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  • David Silverberg

How dental scrap refining works

Updated: Jan 4, 2022

Written By David Silverberg

A barely-known and under-recognized wrinkle of being a dentist reveals a method for these professionals to establish an extra revenue stream: dental scrap. To the layman, that might connote whatever has been drilled out of teeth and is lying in the bottom of an unsightly bin. Actually dental scrap refers to any dental type of material with a value higher than the cost of processing and recycling it into something new.  Many bridges and crowns are constructed with metal alloys that contain precious metals such as gold, platinum, palladium, and silver. 

Old restorations may have more value than at first glance. For example, the precious alloys used to make yellow gold crowns can sometimes hover around the 10 to 20 karats level. And silver-colored ("white" gold) crowns may also hold significant precious metal content. Dentists have to also build that hidden metal substructure of porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns and those bridges are sometimes made from precious-metal alloy.  Potentially high-value dental scrap includes inlays, onlays, caps, bridges, crowns, and dental sweeps.

Dentists often extract these restorations and just chuck them in the garbage, unaware they could be netting extra cash by working with a reputable dental refining company such as Muzeum Dental Refining. By ordering a free kit through Muzeum’s experienced staff, dentists can receive clear instructions on how they can send their dental scraps for analysis and value assessment.

It should be noted that interested dentists who are planning to sell dental scrap shouldn’t concern themselves over removing any tooth material, porcelain, or cement. Experienced professionals at Muzeum Dental Refining can separate the metal from other materials using a state-of-the-art refining process.

The fine details of refining

After the refining phase homogenizes the different metals found within dental scrap, the next step is bar analysis using X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) technology. Specialists trained in this next-era iteration of X-ray innovation study the product to determine the breakdown of metal composition including gold, silver, platinum and palladium. When dental professionals work with Muzeum Dental, they get paid on on ALL 4 precious metals as opposed to just gold, which some fly-by-night-operations do. What is this type of X-ray tech? As explained by ThermoFisher Scientific: “XRF analyzers determine the chemistry of a sample by measuring the fluorescent (or secondary) x-ray emitted from a sample when it is excited by a primary x-ray source. Because this fluorescence is unique to the elemental composition of the sample, XRF is an excellent technology for qualitative and quantitative analysis of the material composition.” The steps within the process are also fascinating, even if you aren’t particularly nerdy about physics: 

  1. A solid or a liquid sample is irradiated with high energy X-rays from a controlled tube.

  2. When an atom in the sample is struck with an X-ray of sufficient energy, an electron from one of the atom’s inner orbital shells is shaken up and dislodged.

  3. The atom regains stability, filling the vacancy left in the inner orbital shell with an electron from one of the atom’s higher energy orbital shells.

  4. The electron drops to the lower energy state by releasing a fluorescent X-ray. The energy of this ray is equal to the specific difference in energy between two quantum states of the electron. The measurement of this energy is the basis of XRF analysis.

A reputable dental scrap refining business such as Muzeum Dental would then determine the value of gold or other metals within the dental scrap and use the day’s gold price to determine fair compensation to the dentist. 

The metal component of partial dentures is typically made out of base metal and therefore not attractive to companies working in this industry. But look closely at its color because some partials originating as far back as the 1950's were fabricated using yellow-gold alloys. There is never a wrong time to sell your dental scrap, whether the busy season has just passed or more patients are on the schedule in the next few months. Precious metal prices are valued at impressive highs, if you follow gold-price tickers, and any amount of dental scrap will yield a profitable return. There are no minimum lot size requirements.

Inside the language of dental scrap refining Because it’s integral to understand the terms behind this process, below are a few clarification of certain terminology used within this industry:

Refining is the process of purifying an impure material, whether that refers to petroleum or sugar or metal.  Look at precious metals refining as a way of recycling, and the process takes products or by-products containing precious metals (i.e. industrial, electronic, dental, or jewellery) and isolates the metals back into their pure states for recirculation.

Alloys may mean different things to different people. Metals are often times mixed or melted together, making what is known as an alloy. They exist because their properties can be better than those of the pure component metals. Some metals are stronger, others are less corrosive, and others look better.  For example, stainless steel is manufactured by mixing chromium with steel. Alloys are often used in all dental metals and mostly all jewellery metal. Mentioned earlier in this post was a precious metal known as palladium, whose name isn’t as familiar as gold or silver. This lustrous white material can sometimes be found in some teeth work. It is also harnessed in electronics and jewellery. The metal is mined mainly in Russia and South Africa, and extracted as a secondary product from operations that are focused on other metals, such as platinum or nickel, as Bloomberg reports. According to spot-price resources, palladium is selling, as of today, for $2,240 US an ounce compared to gold’s $1,561 US an ounce.

Muzeum Dental Refining has been heralded for being an honest and transparent service focused on giving customer the most return for their shipment of dental scraps. Dentists working with Muzeum Dental have been extremely satisfied with the value of their dental scrap, which is why repeat business is very common for us.

If you have questions about receiving a free kit or how our refining and assessment process works, contact us anytime.

Later this month in the Muzeum Dental Refining Blog section, find out how the value of dental scrap is determined via a special interview with Daniel Gruz, refining specialist at Muzeum Dental Refining. David Silverberg

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