Solo initiative turns used dentures into a goldmine for needy children.

Partial dentures
Partial dentures

Isao Miyoshi runs a dental laboratory in Japan. He and his dental technicians craft new dentures as replacements for patients’ lost teeth.
But these days, Miyoshi is also dealing with used partial dentures — which he’s in the business of recycling. It’s a project he started that’s making a difference to many people, including himself.

No matter how many teeth were on them, all the dentures had metal clasps — and these are what Miyoshi is recycling.
Clasps and other metals used to stabilize dentures are often alloys of gold, silver and palladium. According to Miyoshi, 5 grams of these alloys are worth around 2,000 yen once they are separated from the dentures.
“People on average get new dentures every three years, because the condition of their teeth changes,” Miyoshi said. “Once the new ones are made, dentists usually give the old ones back to the patients. But most people don’t know what to do with them and they end up keeping them in a drawer. That’s really a waste of something useful. In our lab, we make about 30 new dentures a day, that means 30 more are thrown away.”
He decided he would ask people to donate their disused dentures with metal on them, then take them to a refinery and donate the earnings from selling the pure metals to UNICEF.
Source: The Japan Times

How to donate

Step 1
Clean and disinfect your dentures. This can be done by pouring boiling water over them. Although dental solution can be used to clean them, it doesn’t always kill all the bacteria and fungi that can grow on dentures. If you prefer not to pour boiling water, you can carefully place them into a pot of water and bring it to a boil, and then turn off the heat and wait for the water to cool to remove them. Alternatively, you can soak them in a solution that is equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water for thirty minutes, then rinse and let dry completely.

Step 2
Wrap them in tissue paper, bubble wrap or other cushioning packing material. Then place the well-wrapped dentures into a padded envelope.

Step 3
Address the package to: Japan Dentures Recycling Association, 350-8799 Kawagoe Post Office Stop, Japan.

Step 4
Determine the cost of shipping by visiting your local Post Office and have it determine the cost of postage for you, or use a courier company, (like UPS).