The Australian Dental Association (ADA) has recently published an article in which it discusses the best practices for recycling dental scrap. Although many dentists treat it as waste, dental scrap can be recycled by an experienced refiner. This is an environmentally friendly solution that will generate additional income for the dental practice.
Dental offices often discard dental scrap without considering the value of recycling it, the potential revenue this could produce or its impact on the environment. It is true that materials such as silver and mercury can negatively affect the environment and should, therefore, be responsibly recycled. Moreover, since dental scrap such as bridges, inlays and different types of crowns, including porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns, typically contain a mixture of gold, platinum, palladium or silver, recycling can be profitable. With the help of an experienced refiner, the precious metals in the dental scrap can be easily isolated and later sold instead of ending up in landfills.
According to the article, amalgam waste and dental scrap are two completely different materials that should not be treated in the same way by dentists. Instead, valuable dental material should be separated from amalgam.
Every dental alloy is unique and requires an assay to determine its composition. Similarly, the combination of materials of which dental implants and other restorations are composed differs. According to the article, one bridge could contain 17% gold, while another one could contain up to 50% gold, which is why recycling all dental scrap through a metal refinery is the only way to ensure fair compensation.
Besides gold, recycled palladium could bring profit to the dental office. The article cautions that dentists who only collect scrap material with a golden-yellow colour could be wasting up to 50% of the value in their dental scrap.