Dr. Dawn Webster takes an initial look into a patient’s mouth. It’s after an exam like this one that she can determine if a patient will need to have a gold tooth removed and replaced.

Smile: those teeth are worth something

Victoria dentists collect gold crowns and fillings to fundraise for Jeneece Place in View Royal

Bits and pieces of old teeth with shiny bits of gold transform into cash for a cause.

Matt Evans and Dawn Webster, dentists at Fort Street Dental Centre, collect all unwanted gold teeth pulled from patients mouths. Then they have it melted down and donate the money to charity.

“We just ask every patient who needs to get an old crown or gold tooth pulled out if they want to donate it,” Webster said. Most people would get between $30 and $40 for crown from a gold vendor. “We have a gold vendor who knows it’s for charity and gives us a bit better rate.”

After cashing in more than two years of teeth the husband and wife dentistry team received a cheque for $8,7000 and then the topped it off with their own funds to donate $10,000 to Jeneece Place. Jeneece Place, near Victoria General Hospital, is a place where families can stay while their children receive care at the hospital.

“I had the pleasure of getting the phone call,” said Jessica Woollard, communications officer for Children’s Health Foundation of Vancouver Island that operates Jeneece Place.

“We always tell people who want to fundraise for us to use their skills and interests to get creative. This is by far the most unique fundraiser,” Woollard said. “By getting their patients to donate they are spreading philanthropy with very little cost to the (dental) patients. They’ve had those teeth for a long time.”

The donation goes toward the $325,000 annual operating costs for Jeneece Place this year.

The dentists decided to donate to Jeneece Place after their daughter Amelia Mae became very ill at only seven weeks old.

Vomiting large amounts of blood, Amelia Mae spent two days in hospital and her parents witnessed many children with other serious illnesses. The couple did not use Jeneece Place, but began thinking about out-of-town families with sick children.

“I got to wrap my baby and take her home,” Webster said.  “We were sitting at the hospital with the rest of the sick kids and it tore our hearts out.”

The 200-tooth collection started after Amelia Mae’s illness. Now Amelia Mae is a healthy two-and-a-half year old and has a younger sister eight-month-old Sarah Elaine.

“Maybe one in 50 people say they want to keep it, the rest donate,” Webster said. “People who refuse are often jewellers or gold collectors.

This is not the first time the couple donated gold from patients mouths. They began collecting dental gold in 2005 and have made previous donations to other charitable organizations. Most donations have spanned between $2,000 and $4,500.

 

Fort Street Dental Centre continues to collect gold, choosing a different charity each time. Gold donations can be dropped off at the centre at 102-1780 Fort St.

 

The truth on gold teeth

A gold tooth is less expensive than a porcelain one. “It’s cheaper because the lab doesn’t charge to add the porcelain on it,” said Victoria dentist  Dawn Webster.

Aside from price, Webster explained how she advises her patients to opt for gold.

“It’s less abrasive and it has a better fit. It’s less likely for bacteria to get under it,” she explained.

The gold crowns  and teeth also wear very similar to natural tooth enamel.

 

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