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What's happened to a glint of gold in modern smiles?

Published Wednesday 27th April 2016

Selling your broken, outdated or just unwanted gold jewellery is a brilliant way to make some extra cash, and help meet the commercial demand for the precious metal.

As we’ve seen, the electronics industry is constantly in need of gold for the technology we use every day, but one key market for scrap gold has really shrunk in recent years.

At one time, having a gold tooth – or two – was a real status symbol but just like a pair of 1980s earrings, fashion has moved on and people are less likely to want to flash a bit of sparkling precious metal among their pearly whites.

Around 67 tonnes of gold were used annually to mend or enhance people’s smiles 10 years ago, but today, the figure has plummeted. According to the World Gold Council, demand for gold from dentistry has fallen by around 60 per cent since the start of the decade. It says just shy of 19 tonnes of gold were used in dentistry last year.

The high gold prices seen during the recession and the passion for whiter than white Hollywood smiles is being blamed for the fall in demand in the last few years.

Lindsay Richards, dean of dentistry at the University of Adelaide in South Australia, told IOL: “We hardly ever use gold in front teeth now, almost never. I would’ve last done a gold filling 10 years ago in a front tooth. For the back teeth, it’s still an excellent material, but people don’t like the look of it.”

Gold is considered one of the strongest materials for repairing teeth, and unlike porcelain, it won’t crack and split. It’s believed to have been used as a long ago as 630 BC to mend teeth and was seen as a decorative as well as a practical enhancement.

But even if the dentistry market’s demand for gold has dropped, there is still a huge need for scrap gold for so many other purposes. And with the current high prices, it’s definitely worth converting your unwanted pieces into cash.