Do you have dental gold, for example, an old filling that you are thinking of selling? Many people sell their gold crowns but first, it is important to know how much gold the piece contains.
In this article, we answer the question of what karat is dental gold most likely to be and how to find out the value of your gold dental work. So continue reading to find out what your old gold fillings could be worth.
Why is Gold Used in Dentistry?
Although modern materials such as ceramic and porcelain are more popular than gold in dentistry today, gold is still sometimes used in dental work. There are several benefits to using gold in dentistry and why some people may still opt for gold instead of the more modern options.
Gold is highly resistant to corrosion and creates a high-quality seal, which prevents further decay and leakage. Using gold requires a minimal amount of the tooth to be removed. It is also highly fracture-resistant and very biocompatible.
Gold crowns are likely to last longer than other types of fillings. They do come with a higher price tag compared to porcelain or ceramic. However, because of the gold content, you can sell them if you need a replacement filling.
How is a Dental Crown Valued?
The value of a gold dental crown is based on how much it weighs and how much precious metal it contains. Finding out what it weighs is easier. Finding out how many karats the gold is can be trickier.
Most dental patients do not know the exact precious metal composition and the karat value of the dental work carried out by their dentist. Sometimes, this information can be recorded in the paperwork associated with your treatment. Check your dental insurance form and your dental work receipt since they may have details of the karats.
However, in most cases, the karat value or the metal composition will not be detailed on the paperwork. Often the only way to find out the exact karat value of your gold crown or inlay is through a metallurgical assay.
What is a Metallurgical Assay?
A metallurgical assay or test is done to identify the makeup of a piece of metal. There are different ways a gold buyer can do the test. The simplest way is the touchstone test, which has been used to test precious metal content since ancient times.
It uses a dark stone and when gold, which is a softer material, is drawn across the stone, it leaves a visible line. The line’s color is then used to determine how pure the gold is. Sometimes the touchstone is treated with some chemicals that react to certain purities of gold.
Another way to determine the purity is to use an electronic tester, which measures the electrical resistivity of the piece of metal. A fire assay is usually only used for large quantities because it melts the pieces, so it would not be used to find out the karat value of a dental crown.
The last two assay methods include using X-ray fluorescence, XRF for short and ultrasound assay. XRF is fast and accurate but more complex than using a stone assay and involves bathing the sample in X-rays. An ultrasound assay uses ultrasonic waves to detect changes in the metal for example from tungsten to pure gold.
Precious Dental Alloys
Gold is not the only metal used in dental alloys. Your dental alloys will belong into one of these three categories; precious, semi-precious, and non-precious. The first category, also known as high noble alloy, is where you will find gold crowns.
High noble alloys can include gold, silver, platinum, and palladium but must be at least 40% gold. In dentistry, this alloy composition is often used for dental bridges and crowns, as well as the metallic substructure under the porcelain crown on the surface.
Semi-precious or noble alloys contain at least 25% of precious metal. In addition, they may contain metals such as cobalt, zinc, and tin. Non-precious or non-noble alloys have no precious metals.
How Many Karats Are in Your Dental Crown?
Pure gold is rarely used in dental work. Most often, a yellow-colored gold crown contains 67% gold, which means it is 16-karat gold. However, the carat value can be as low as 10 or as high as 22. The gold will usually be mixed with one of the other precious metals.
How Much is Gold Dental Work Worth?
The value of the crown depends on the karat value, its weight, and the spot price of gold. Since gold prices change, the value of your piece of gold dentistry can go up or down in value, depending on the gold market.
In most dental work, the gold used will be a mix of gold with other precious or non-precious metals. However, sometimes, especially with smaller pieces such as a single gold tooth, it can be pure gold.
The more gold the piece has, the more valuable it is. This means that sometimes a smaller piece can be worth more than a larger piece, like a dental bridge if the cap was made with pure gold and the bridge with, for example, 10-karat gold. However, a 20-karat bridge is often more valuable than a 24-karat cap, because size matters, too.
An Example Valuation
Here is an example of how to calculate the value of gold dental restorations such as crowns. The average gold crown weighs around two to three grams. If the spot gold price was $1,000 for an ounce, your crown was 10-karat gold, it could be valued at $40. If the price was the same, but your crown was 22-karat gold, it could be worth $92.
When selling a dental crown or bridge, remember that you are selling a piece of dental scrap metal. This means that you may not get as high a price since the gold is not usable as it is and will need refining. The dealer will need to consider the refining costs before they buy any gold scrap, including gold caps, crowns, or any other dental work.
What Kind of Dental Work Can Be Sold?
What dental work a buyer will accept can vary but many of them will buy gold teeth, crowns, caps, onlays, inlays, bridges, partial dentures, and implants.
When you are selling any dental work, check with the dealer what they will take. There will be jewelry and gold dealers who will not buy individual gold crowns as they would not make enough profit from it.
Where to Sell Your Dental Gold?
You can search for dental gold buyers online or if you have a local coin shop or a jewelry dealer, you can try them. Check what they are offering for gold scraps and compare to get the best value.
However, what they offer is not the only factor you should consider. If you are selling your dental gold to an online dealer, check their ratings and reviews. Sometimes, it may be better to go with a reputable company even if the prices they are offering are lower.
With an established dealer who is experienced in buying dental gold, you are less likely to get surprises later on. Also, check what pieces they buy, if there is a minimum requirement, and how they would like you to send your gold dentistry to them.
Should You Sell to a Refinery?
Sometimes, it may be better to sell your gold dental pieces to a refinery rather than a coin, gold, or jewelry dealer. Because the dealer will need to send the dental work to a refinery, you will get less cash for them to make a profit.
Selling directly to a refiner can be more profitable for you as you will receive the full price the refinery would pay to the dealer. Again, it is important to do your research, compare the valuations and reviews, and go with the one that works best for you.
If you have an old piece of gold dental work or are about to have some golden dentistry removed, you might be thinking of selling it. If you are, then it is useful to know what the karat in your dental gold is. Sometimes you can find this information in the paperwork but more often, it will need to be tested to find out how pure the gold is.
If you are selling a piece of golden dentistry, you need to do your research to find the best company to sell it to, either online or on the high street. Ensure you compare the prices as well as the reviews and if selling a single piece of dental gold, check they accept single pieces.