By Michael Sherbekow, Core-Scientific
The crown and bridge material pictured here may not look all that exciting on the surface, but the precious metal value contained within it should certainly grab your attention. Most dentists are aware that dental scrap crowns and bridges contain precious metals like gold and palladium, however the vast majority of them do not keep track of precious metal prices and almost never make the decision to sell their scrap based on market conditions. You may be asking yourself how the small amount of scrap pictured above can be worth so much money. The answer is palladium.
Palladium is a platinum group metal used primarily in catalytic converters to help reduce toxic emissions from automobiles. Of all the platinum group metals, palladium is the least dense and has the lowest melting point. It is non-corrosive and has excellent bio-compatibility in an oral environment making it an ideal fit for use in dentistry.
Historically, the price of palladium has been very low compared with similar precious metals like gold and platinum. For decades, this economic advantage over other precious metals along with its superior physical properties made palladium a top choice for dental professionals worldwide. Most crowns and PFMs being removed today are alloyed with a considerable amount of palladium.
Over the course of the last two and a half years, the palladium market has exploded! On May 25th 2017 the market price of palladium closed at $767 per troy ounce. Since then the price has increased by nearly 150% ballooning to over $1,900 per troy ounce in December of 2019. Gold by comparison, is up only 15% over that same time frame. The volatility of the palladium market has certainly been on full display these last few years and most economists would agree that a correction is coming. In other words, the time to sell is now!
While it has become common-place for dentists to save and cash in their dental scrap, most dental practices still fall victim to middlemen, outdated refining companies or even outright scams. Here are a few important things to look out for when selling your scrap to ensure you’re getting the most for your metal:
1. DO NOT TAKE CASH ON THE SPOT
Anyone offering to pay for your dental scrap on the spot is a middleman and will re-sell your material to a refiner, pocketing the difference. Selling your scrap for cash on the spot can cost you up to 80% of the value of your material.
2. MAKE SURE YOU ARE USING A REAL REFINER
There is only one way to accurately determine precious metal content in dental scrap. It must be melted and properly assayed by a precious metal refiner. Some middle men have been known to masquerade as refiners by putting the word “refining” in their business name. All real refiners will melt and assay your material prior to quoting a value and will also provide an assay report detailing the findings of their analytical process. If you are not receiving this report, you are not working with a real refiner.
3. DEMAND TRANSPARENCY
A legitimate assay report should include incoming weights, processed weights and the spot prices for each metal. Any reputable refiner reporting on the values alone and not providing weights, is leaving crucial information out of their reports. BEWARE OF REFINERS THAT DO NOT LIST THE PALLADIUM PRICE ON THEIR REPORTS. Some of the most “reputable” refiners serving the dental industry have been known to leave the palladium price off of their reports. You have to ask yourself why they would do this. Better yet, ask them!
By following these tips, you should position yourself nicely to get the most back for your dental scrap. Palladium is at an all-time high, so if you’ve been waiting to sell your scrap, the time to take action is now.
Michael Sherbekow is the Head of Sales and Purchasing at Core Scientific Precious Metals Refinery and has spent the last decade educating dental professionals on the value and composition of their dental scrap as well as the best way to go about monetizing it.