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145: Recycling false teeth

Problem:

Dental crowns, bridges, and PFMs are alloyed with gold, platinum, palladium, and silver, nylon and acrylic. When their wearer changes them or dies, they must be recycled in order not to end up in the landfill.

Solution:

In 2006, Isao Miyoshi was running a dental laboratory in Sakado, Saitama Prefecture, Japan. Every day, he visited the dentistry department at the local Meikai University Hospital, where he collected dozens of plaster impressions of people’s gums and their remaining teeth. Back at Miyoshi’s lab, his 12 dental technicians then crafted new dentures as replacements for the patients’ lost teeth.


But then 63-year-old Miyoshi came up with a solution. In his lab, they were making about 30 new dentures a day. People on average get new dentures every three years, because the condition of their teeth changes. Once the new ones are made, dentists usually give the old ones back to the patients. But most people don’t know what to do with them and they end up keeping them in a drawer.

That’s really a waste of something useful.

What if he were to collect crowns, bridgework, dentures, inlays, clasps, gold teeth and other metal extractions, then remove the metals and re-sell them for recycling while discarding the rest.

With 5 grams of these alloys worth around 2,000 yen, once they are separated from the dentures recycle used dentures, if all of the 3.6 million dentures with precious metals discarded each year in Japan were recycled, they would be valued at up to 7 billion yen (roughly $83.3 million).

Miyoshi founded a non-profit Japan Denture Recycling Association and it was not long before the program was able to donate all its earnings to UNICEF and has since given over $400,000 to charity

Founded in 1892, Garfield Refining in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is one of the oldest and most respected precious metal refineries in the world. Recognized in North America as DentalTown’s “Best Dental Scrap Refiner” for 9 years in a row, for Garfield refining is recycling.

In England, Simple Refining, a family run company based in Cheshire, also specialises in gold refining and recycling of dental scrap. While in France a D3E (ou DEEE) dentaires are recycled Récyclum (formerly Recydent)

What you can do: Ensure that yours and your family’s false teeth etc are sustainably recycled.

Discover Solution 146: Faux fur

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