One of the questions that frequently come up in my public presentations is “What’s the value of the gold crowns in my mouth and will that cover the cost of my cremation?” At the recent Cremation Association of North America (CANA) convention, I met Kevin McKay with DDS Refining, a company that refines the precious metals in dental prosthetics, who helped answer these questions.
The short answer, if you’ve got six to eight gold crowns in your mouth, and depending on the price of gold on any given day, is about $100. That won’t cover the cost for an obituary in many markets, let alone the price of a cremation.
DDS Refining primarily works with dentists to recycle gold and other precious metals when a crown or other dental work is replaced. However, with the growing number of cremations, there’s gold in them thar crematories!
Funeral directors and cremationists are not dentists – they will not remove gold teeth from the mouths of dead people. However, metal survives the cremation process. There are recycling businesses that focus on the titanium in joint replacements and other non-precious metals. DDS Refining suggests collecting the metal that remains in just the skull area, the metal most likely to contain gold.
“Individually, a crown is not worth a lot of money. Collectively, when a funeral home or a dentist would save them, it is worth doing,” said McKay. DDS Refining provides a small jar to fill with gold dental work. Over the course of several months to a year, depending on how many cases are processed during that time, a full jar could equate to some serious cash.
“It’s a pretty wide range, and it’s just a guess based on where the current metal prices are, but I would say if one of these were full of clean metal… you could be looking in the neighborhood of four to seven thousand dollars,” said McKay.
That’s a lot of money. Crematories may donate the proceeds to a local charity or allow DDS Refining to support a number of worthwhile charities. McKay recommends cremationists be transparent about what they are doing with metal recycling proceeds.
“What we also suggest is that they promote it, that they tell all their customers what this is they’re doing. They’re actually handling this material properly, and because there is a surplus value, instead of putting it in their pocket, what they’re then doing is turning around and giving that value back to the community.”
Here’s a video from DDSRefining.com that explains the collection and refining process.