Most people probably have no idea what happens to their teeth and fillings once they’re extracted. Maybe it’s something you’ve never given a lot of thought to, but it’s actually pretty fascinating. Dr. Stephen Hill gives the lowdown on what happens to your teeth once they leave your mouth.
When you were a kid, and you lost your teeth, if you were like many American kids, your parents probably tucked it under your pillow and told you the tooth fairy took it while you slept. Why the tooth fairy needed so many teeth is anyone’s guess- but believe it or not there are uses for teeth once you’re done with them!
- Biomedical Waste- Yes, most teeth probably just end up incinerated as biomedical waste if they have no fillings. Sure, it’s not exactly glamorous, but this is the safest method of disposal. After extraction, the tooth is sealed in a hazardous waste container until a medical waste removal company picks them up and brings them to be incinerated.
- If there are metal fillings present, the extracted teeth go to a special recycling facility that removes the filling before sending the tooth on to the incinerator. The reason for this is the mercury in amalgam fillings becomes hazardous if put into the incinerator and must be disposed of independently of the tooth.
- Your metal fillings can also go to a scrap metal dealer who will remove the metal and melt it down for re-purposing.
- Teaching - Sometimes teeth are sent to dental schools for students to practice on. While model teeth are available for this purpose, it’s not the same as working on an actual tooth.
- Research- Similar to teaching models, teeth used for research often are used in the lab to test fillings, toothpaste, and any dental procedures or products where accurate results couldn’t be produced on a model.
Of course, the best place for your teeth is to stay in your mouth! So keep them healthy by brushing twice a day, flossing, and getting regular exams. If it’s time to set up an appointment for your next exam, give Dr. Hill a call at 469-640-9550.