Open Wide
Part 2 of 2

In some parts of the world, gold teeth are popular and a sign of wealth. This picture by babasteve shows a Tajikistan woman. In the US, grills or tooth caps (see pictures below) are popular hip hop fashion statements too.

Gold was also commonly used for filling cavities and as dental crowns before modern materials came along. Now people with gold in their teeth and who are feeling the recession's "bite" are realizing they could cash them in. The price of gold has skyrocketed to nearly $1000 an ounce as investors flock to gold, the only safe bet in an uncertain financial situation.

Companies like have reported on the new gold rush for dental scrap. A gold tooth could go for as much as $50 depending on weight and so on. Apparently many people kept gold pieces removed from their mouths as the fashion for gold teeth waned or simply had to be replaced. Gold fillings in pulled teeth are removed by chiselling or prior soaking in some cola overnight to loosen the bond (yes, we should lay off pop!). The recovered gold is refined, melted down and resold.

With so many "cash for gold" companies cropping up, it is a buyer beware situation. Check this article for tips on how to spot the unscrupulous ones.

A Hawaiian based jewelry manufacturer, Designs 'N Gold has another alternative. They offer to remake old or broken heirloom jewelry into new pieces so the original materials become wearable and stay in the family as cherished mementos. Recycling makes sense as gold mining is environmentally destructive - about 20 tons of mining waste is generated for every 18K gold ring.

So how do jewelers figure out if the gold pieces brought in by people are real? First they apply a magnet. If it sticks, it's NOT gold. They then do a scratch and acid test. A small mark is made in an inconspicuous spot with a file and a drop of nitric acid is applied. Gold is an inert metal so there should be no reaction. Green in the scratch means the piece is a gold covered base metal. A milky scratch will reveal it as gold over silver.

Dental Grills

Dental grills from flickr image by jyanImage via Wikipedia

The picture below shows a man holding a removable gold tooth caps with fangs or fronts as they are called.

Tooth Caps Once Again A Hit For Hip-Hop Community

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