Q: What is “dental gold”?

A: “Dental gold” is the term used to describe an alloy that is made up of primarily gold and is used to make various tooth restorations by dentists.


Q: What is an “alloy”?

A: An alloy is a substance composed of two or more metals. In the dental field, there are precious and non-precious alloys that are used for tooth restorations.


Q: What is a “dental restoration”?

A: Restoration is the term used to describe any man-made alteration placed in a patient’s mouth, i.e. a crown, bridge, inlay, onlay, denture or partial.


Q: What is a “crown”?

A: A crown is most commonly referred to as a “cap”. A full gold crown is usually placed in the rear of the mouth (molars) so that it is less visible when a person smiles. A Porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crown is most commonly used where it will be more visible.


Q: What is a “bridge”?

A: A bridge is easiest explained as multiple crowns joined together. There is a more scientific explanation for a dental bridge but for the purposes of illustrating in simple terms, that is a bridge. Gold or palladium-based alloys are commonly used, as is porcelain.


Q: What are an “inlay” and an “onlay”?

A: Inlay’s & onlay’s are essentially the same thing, it just depends on how much decay and where the decay is on the tooth. They are both restorations that are fitted to a cavity in the tooth and cemented into place. Gold or porcelain are the substances used.


Q: I have a gold colored partial, is it gold?

A: Yes. In the last 30 years or so gold has been replaced with cobalt and chromium based alloys to make partials. A simple way to tell is if a partial is gold it is made with a gold alloy which can have significant value but if it is a silver color, it is made out of chrome or cobalt which are non-precious metals and have very little if any resale value.


Q: Are PFM’s (porcelain-fused-to-metal) worth saving?

A: Absolutely! PFM’s can vary between a high-noble alloy (at least 60% precious metal content with at least 40% gold), a noble alloy (at least 25% noble metal) and non-precious alloys. PFM scrap metal can be very valuable.


Q: Do I need to separate gold from the PFM scrap?

A: No. Through the smelting and assaying process we are able to determine the exact elemental breakdown of the whole mixture. You can collect all of the metal scrap in one container.


Q: Do I need to remove the tooth from the metal?

A: No. Tooth structure, porcelain and cement will all either burn off or separate in the smelting process so there is no need to break it off ahead of time.


Q: Can amalgam be refined with my precious metal scrap?

A: No. Keep amalgam separate from your other metal scrap. Please refer to our amalgam waste page for solutions related to amalgam.