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Before cremation, are gold teeth removed?

Who does it? Who gets the teeth? Is it legal? Why isn’t the family notified?

Actually, when one signs the agreement form to arrange for cremation of a loved one, part of the standardized form states that metals – such as artificial metal joints, surgical staples, and pacemakers, medication, and insulin pumps, and dental metals and appliances – silver fillings, bridgework and dentures, gold crowns and inlays, etc. – are the responsibility of the cremation provider to dispose of.

Cardiac pacemakers and other implanted pumps must be removed prior to the cremation, as they can explode within the cremation oven and damage it – that is the responsibility of the cremator.

However, the party paying for the cremation may stipulate that these metals, other than the pacemakers and pumps, must be returned to the family if they wish. Pacemakers and pumps are returned to their respective manufacturers.

What is little known, is that dental gold does not melt in the oven, so it is not “commingled” with the cremains, as is stated in the contract. Also little known is that the cremains generally are not just fine ash – some of the major and densest bones are not completely broken down, though they are thoroughly decalcified by the heat and flames.

Hence the bone particles – teeth, part of the jaw and/or skull, and things like the head of the hip and thigh bones, are run through a processor – just like a food processor but with larger channels. when the bone and teeth hit the teeth of the processor, they are pretty much instantly pulverized into ash or dust particles.

They are then scooped into the rest of the cremains for return to the family. Dental silver fillings (silver amalgams) are commingles with the ash, as the silver is indistinguishable form the ashes once the mercury, which is roughly 50% of their composition, boils off early in the cremation process. However gold crowns, fillings, and inlays remain whole, as they are not pure gold, and their melting point is higher than the roughly 1800 degrees of the oven.

They remain intact, and when the tooth goes through the processor, the intact gold remain in the processor, or passes though the device, and is easily picked out of the ashes and/or the processor.

As a legal release has been signed turning over these materials to the cremator, you can imagine who keeps (disposes of) – and profits – from them.