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Is Dental Gold 16K?


Gold has been used in dentistry for thousands of years.  Higher grade gold is soft and would not survive a career of chewing, so dental gold is typically said to be around 10 – 16 karat.  This estimate isn’t entirely true because dental restorations use not only gold, but alloys.  An alloy is a mixture of two or more metals.  The original dental alloy is gold-silver-copper.  Since then, platinum group metals (PGM) have been used for their superior strength and their resistance to tarnishing.

In fact, some such ‘gold tooth’ alloys are silver-copper-PGM, using little or no gold!  These alloys are made in any one of thousands of dental labs in different combinations.  Refining a dental replacement means separating metal from non-metal, and it also means separating the different metals from the alloy.  A refiner who accepts dental crowns should be willing to specify how much of each precious metal is recovered.  It simply isn’t all 16 Karat gold.

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