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What Percentage of Dental Gold is Real?

If you’re thinking about selling a gold crown, filling, or old bridge, you may have wondered “Is dental gold real gold?” The short answer is yes, although it is a bit more complicated than that. Here’s everything you need to know about dental gold, including why dentists use it, how much it’s worth, and how to tell if your dental gold is real.

Why Do Dentists Use Gold in Dental Fillings?

Dentists use gold for fillings, crowns, bridges, and other dental work because of its longevity, durability, and ability to withstand the conditions of being inside the mouth. Saliva doesn’t break down gold dental fixtures as quickly as it tends to do to other materials such as porcelain or porcelain fused to metal (PFM).

How Much Gold is in Dental Gold?
Image via Pixabay by Ri Ya

A gold alloy for your crown also has the capability to stand up to heavy chewing and teeth grinding, so if a dentist can see signs of this on your teeth, they might suggest gold as a longer-lasting and more durable option to prevent chipping and breaking.

One important reason a dentist might suggest a gold crown, bridge, or filling is because it doesn’t seem to wear down the teeth it touches any more than your natural enamel does. Another big plus for using precious metals for dental work is the dentist’s ability to fit the crown or bridge with less reduction to the original tooth.

For instance, undergoing a root canal to fit porcelain or ceramic crown can mean the dentist has to remove the top part of the tooth to better fit the material. With a metal crown, if this part of the tooth is salvageable, the dentist won’t have to remove it. This can also be a money-saver for many dental patients, too, as the dentist has to perform less complex procedures to fit a gold crown.

Do Dentists Still Use Gold?

Dentists DO still use gold today for fillings, crowns, and bridgework. Unlike in the past, though, dentists now commonly use a mix of metal alloys that consist of gold, platinum, palladium, and other precious metals. The gold in these alloys still makes up the majority of the amalgamated metal and consists of a minimum between 40 percent and 60 percent of the combination to achieve safe and durable quality for dental use.

How Much Gold Is in a Dental Crown?

The amount of gold in a dental crown depends on the type of alloy the dentist uses. There are three distinct alloy types: high noble alloy, noble alloy, and non-noble alloy. In a high noble alloy, precious metals including gold, platinum, and palladium make up at least 60 percent of the alloy, with gold accounting for a minimum of 40 percent of that. A noble alloy has a minimum of 25 percent of these precious metals, and a non-noble alloy consists of less than 25 percent of precious metals, gold being the highest
amount in addition to metals like chromium and nickel.

What Karat Is Dental Gold?

Typically, dental gold consists of anywhere from 10 to 22 karats of gold. If the crown or bridge contains a higher karat of gold, it’s usually within a high noble alloy consisting of other precious metals that help protect the piece from damage and warping. Even if the karat count in your dental gold is low, like 10 to 14 karats, a high noble alloy still contains a decent amount of precious metal in it aside from gold that can add up if you have enough of it.

Does Dental Gold Tarnish?

If the dental fixture consists of a high noble alloy with at least 50 to 75 percent of it containing gold, it will usually have a high resistance to tarnishing. The metals in the alloy can also affect a crown’s resistance to tarnish, as alloys with silver, tin, copper, or nickel are often more susceptible to discoloration than precious metals. Even with a non-noble alloy, though, you can remove tarnish on your old crown with a polishing cloth if you’re planning to sell it along with other jewelry and valuables.

What Is Dental Gold Worth?

The amount of money you can get for your dental scraps can depend on a few factors. For one, the type of alloy you have can determine how much gold is in the crown because non-noble alloys have less precious metal content in them than high noble alloys. Secondly, the gold karats can affect how much your dental scrap is worth, as a 22-karat gold crown can be worth considerably more than a 14-karat gold crown.

It can be challenging to tell just how much precious metal is in your crown and how much of it is real gold, so to find out for sure, you can visit a gold dealer who can test the fixture with X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry (XRF). This can tell you about the types of metals and how much of them are in your crown.

Essentially, you might expect yellow gold crowns, bridges, inlays, and overlays to be worth the most. White gold and silver-colored fixtures that have more than a 40 percent gold content are also worth more than other metal alloys. That being said, a lot of gold and jewelry dealers avoid single gold crowns or a few small gold fillings because they’re not enough to make a profit off of. So unless you’ve been saving all your gold crowns when you’ve replaced them, you may want to hold on to your dental scraps if you only have a crown or two.

Where Can I Sell My Dental Gold?

Your best bet for selling your dental gold is to visit a gold dealer who specializes in recycling precious metals. You can always visit a gold and pawn store, but you’ll likely get a better offer from a business that specializes in buying and selling rare valuables and precious metals. At Las Vegas Jewelry and Coin Buyers, we do just that. We’ll appraise your dental gold and discuss your selling options to help you get the most from it.

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