A Staff Report from the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board

Can dentures be recycled?

Dear Straight Dope:

I have a rather unusual question. I currently have several pairs of dentures from family members who died. Are dentures recyclable? Do denture companies buy used dentures? What can you do with old dentures besides putting them in the trash?

I have now asked three dentists, independently, in three different states. Admittedly, this is not a statistically valid survey, but the first reaction was laughter. Two said that although it is theoretically possible to recycle dentures, they do not know of any organization that does so. The third said it isn't even theoretically possible. Unlike eyeglasses, say, which are pretty easy to adjust to someone else's head, dentures are made to fit an individual mouth, and it is impractical to hope that you could find another mouth that they fit. One dentist said that the teeth in the dentures could (again, theoretically) be reused, but he knew of no place that does that. One suggestion [warning: classical reference follows]. if you don't want to just toss them, is to plant them and see if anything comes up (like an army of armed warriors). Dentists, they're a laugh a minute.

Me, I'd make a modern art sculpture out of them -- nail a few old dentures onto a wooden grave marker, call it "Teeth and Sympathy" and see if you can sell it at an art fair. Alternatively, you can do like an old state senator I used to know -- he'd wrap up his old dentures in copies of draft legislation and say, "Here's a law with some teeth in it."

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