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What Happens to Gold Teeth When Someone is Cremated?

Can you remove someone’s gold teeth prior to a cremation? Will the cremation destroy the gold? Find out what happens to gold teeth before cremation.
What Happens to Gold Teeth Before Cremation
What Happens to Gold Teeth Before Cremation

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Most people have little experience with cremation until a loved one passes away and they find themselves arranging funeral services. Others are mostly in the dark about the cremation process until they begin pre-planning funeral arrangements for themselves. 

We love educating people about the cremation process, particularly how we make cremation more eco-friendly. Demystifying the process is an important part of empowering consumers so they can make the best disposition choices. One of the questions that we answer frequently is, what happens to gold teeth when someone is cremated? 

Misconceptions Based on Old Anecdotes

There’s a reason people often ask about the removal of gold teeth. You’ve probably heard old tales of grave robbers that would dig up bodies to take jewelry and other valuables, including gold teeth. These stories have stuck around despite the fact they were rare and today it’s virtually a non-issue. 

Still, many people question what happens after a body arrives at the funeral home, and how the body is treated. There’s genuine concern that the body may be mistreated, and one way that could happen is removing gold teeth. 

Rest assured when you work with a reputable funeral home like Cremation.Green that isn’t a concern. Bodies are treated with the utmost respect according to the wishes of the family. 

The Value of Gold

The reason people care about a family member’s gold teeth is largely the perceived value. Unfortunately, gold teeth aren’t as valuable as many people believe. They aren’t like gold jewelry, bars or coins. Let’s take a closer look at what impacts the value of gold that’s used for filler in teeth. 

The Price of Gold at Different Karats

The first factor to consider is the karat value that’s used for gold teeth. Karats range from 1-24 with each karat equaling 4.1667% pure gold. The higher the gold karat value is the softer the gold will be. For that reason, often 10 karat to 22 karat gold is used rather than pure 24 karat gold for teeth filling. The most common gold used for teeth fillings is 16 karat gold. At this karat the gold is 67% pure. The rest of the gold filling is a mix of other metal alloys. This mixture of gold and metal alloys is what’s known as dental gold. 

Factoring in the Weight

As of December 29, 2023 the price for an ounce of pure 24 karat gold was $2,077. The price has increased over time and will likely continue to do so. But gold teeth are far from an ounce in weight. According to The Atlantic, usually a gold tooth filling is around two grams in weight. That’s just one fourteenth of an ounce. 

Calculating the Value of Gold Teeth

So, if you factor in the weight and the karats, the average gold tooth is around $100 each. Here’s how it breaks down:

  • One ounce of 16 karat gold is $1,392
  • There are 28 grams in an ounce
  • One gram of 16 karat gold is $49.71 
  • There are 2 grams per gold filling
  • Each gold tooth is $99.43 

$1,392 / 28 = $49.71 x 2 = $99.43

There you have it. This is a pretty reliable calculation given that the only variable that’s likely to change over time is the price per ounce of 16 karat gold, and that doesn’t go up and down too dramatically. Whether or not it’s worth it to remove the gold teeth before cremation will depend on how many gold teeth a person had. 

Do Funeral Directors Remove Gold Teeth Before Cremating?

The short answer is no. Some medical devices must be removed prior to cremating, but the standard protocol is to cremate the body without removing the gold teeth. 

Regardless of whether or not a family wants gold teeth to be removed, that shouldn’t be done by a funeral director. Funeral directors are capable of performing a lot of services, but teeth removal isn’t allowed. It’s a technicality of the trade. Funeral directors can’t legally remove teeth because that is considered practicing dentistry. That means only a licensed dentist can perform the service.

Do Gold Teeth Need to be Removed Before Cremation? 

You may be wondering if cremating gold teeth will affect their value. The answer is yes. The temperature inside a cremation retort gets as high as 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Since gold teeth are 16 karat gold, the metal will melt and dissolve during a cremation. Once melted the gold mixes with the bone, and it can’t be separated with a magnet like other metals. 

So, if you want to preserve the gold teeth for whatever reason, they’ll need to be removed before the cremation. 

How to Have Gold Teeth Removed Before Cremation

For all of those who do want a loved one’s gold teeth removed, it is possible. You just have to request to have them removed in advance, and it has to be done by a state licensed dentist. 

In metro areas there are plenty of dentists, however finding one that removes gold teeth from the deceased may be difficult. Most dentists don’t remove teeth or perform any sort of dental procedures on a cadaver. 

Even if you are able to find a dentist that will perform the removal the cost may not be worth it. A simple tooth extraction generally costs somewhere between $75 and $200. Given that a gold tooth is worth around $100, it may not make financial sense to hire a dentist even at the lowest rate. 

We’re happy to provide further details about teeth removal prior to cremation and answer any other questions you may have about the process. You can reach us by phone, text or email any hour of the day. 

Picture of Marlaena Gonzales

Marlaena Gonzales

Funeral Director
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