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What To Do with Old Dentures

So, you’ve made the decision to replace your old dentures, or perhaps you’ve come across a pair that once belonged to a beloved family member.

Now you’re faced with the question: What to do with those old dentures? This might seem like a small detail in the grand scheme of things, but given the materials used in dentures and their personal significance, it’s a question that merits some thought.

tl;dr: Reuse, recycle, or donate your old dentures, ensuring you prioritize environmental concerns and sentimental value. Read on for a detailed guide on the various ways you can handle them.

Understanding the Composition of Dentures

To understand what they’re made of. Traditional dentures are crafted from a combination of metals and acrylic resin.

The teeth themselves are usually made of porcelain or plastic. This combination makes them durable but also challenging to recycle.

Note: Many recycling centers do not readily accept dentures due to the mixed materials. Always check with your local recycling center.

Reusing Dentures

If you’re the crafty type or have an appreciation for unique art projects, old dentures can provide a surprising resource.

  • Jewelry and Art Projects: For the artistically inclined, dentures can be turned into distinctive pieces of jewelry or incorporated into quirky art installations.
  • Educational Purposes: Dental students or professionals might benefit from having a pair of real dentures for reference or demonstration.

I recommend getting creative and brainstorming how these old items might serve a new purpose in your life.

Donating Dentures

One man’s trash can indeed be another man’s treasure.

  • Dental Schools: As aforementioned, dental students often benefit from real-world materials for their studies. Your old dentures could serve as a practical study tool.
  • Non-Profit Organizations: Some organizations refurbish old dentures for people who can’t afford new ones, especially in developing countries.

Note: Always ensure you clean and sterilize the dentures thoroughly before donating.

Recycling Dentures

If you’re leaning towards an environmental solution, recycling is the way to go.

  • Specialty Recycling Centers: Some centers specialize in recycling dental appliances, separating metals from acrylics to process them properly.
  • Dental Clinics: Some clinics have established partnerships with recycling centers and can help facilitate the recycling process.

Sentimental Keepsakes

For many, dentures might hold sentimental value, especially if they belonged to someone close to you.

  • Memory Boxes: Placing dentures in a memory box along with other mementos can serve as a touching tribute.
  • Create Casts: Using the dentures, you can create plaster casts or impressions which can be framed or displayed.

I recommend always honoring your feelings. If the dentures mean something to you, there’s no harm in holding onto them.

Proper Disposal

If you’ve decided none of the above options work for you, ensure you dispose of your dentures responsibly. Given that they’re non-biodegradable, they shouldn’t be thrown into regular trash.

  • Medical Waste Disposal: Contact your local waste disposal service to find out if they accept dentures as medical waste.
  • Dental Clinics: Some clinics might assist in ensuring dentures are disposed of properly.

Making the Most Out of Old Dentures

When you first get dentures, the last thing you’re probably thinking about is what to do with them once they’ve reached the end of their lifecycle.

However, as we’ve established, there are numerous avenues to explore when it comes to disposing of or repurposing them.

Environmental Impact and Sustainability

Understanding the environmental implications of discarding dentures is crucial. Given their non-biodegradable nature, discarded dentures can contribute to landfill waste, which is already a pressing concern.

  • Eco-friendly Dentures: Advances in dental technology have brought about options for biodegradable dentures. If sustainability is a priority for you, consider switching to these when you next need a replacement.

I recommend looking into eco-friendly dental clinics or asking your dentist about sustainable denture options when seeking replacements.

Crafting and Upcycling Ideas

Beyond the earlier-mentioned artistic ventures, there are various ways to upcycle old dentures if you’re keen on preserving them in some form.

  • Decorative Pieces: Believe it or not, dentures can be turned into unique decorative items. Think mounted displays or incorporated into mixed media wall art.
  • Functional Art: Imagine a quirky holder for your glasses or a one-of-a-kind paperweight. These can be conversation starters!

I recommend collaborating with artists or crafters if you’re unsure of how to transform these dentures into masterpieces.

Denture Care and Maintenance for Reuse

If you’re considering donating or repurposing your dentures, maintaining them is of utmost importance.

  • Sterilization: Dentures should be soaked in a denture-cleaning solution or a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar for at least 30 minutes. This helps in disinfecting them.
  • Physical Cleaning: Use a soft toothbrush to scrub away any remaining debris gently.
  • Storage: If you’re not immediately donating or using them, store your cleaned dentures in a sealed container to prevent contamination.

Note: Always handle old dentures with care, especially if they aren’t yours. Gloves are a good idea during cleaning.

Navigating the Emotional Attachment

Old dentures, especially those belonging to a loved one, can hold significant sentimental value.

  • Memory Crafts: Consider embedding them in a clear resin block, creating a tactile memory piece that preserves them indefinitely.
  • Oral History: Pair the dentures with written or recorded stories about the person who wore them. It serves as a unique way to pass down memories through generations.

I recommend seeking counsel if you’re struggling with the emotional implications of discarding a loved one’s dentures. Sometimes, a fresh perspective can help in making an informed decision.

Rethinking Denture Disposal

If after all considerations you decide to dispose of the dentures, it’s vital to do it correctly.

  • Incineration: Some medical waste facilities offer incineration services, turning the dentures into ash and reducing environmental harm.
  • Eco-bricking: Although this is a less conventional method, you can put old dentures into eco-bricks (plastic bottles filled with non-biodegradable waste). These bricks can then be used in construction, creating a sustainable disposal solution.

I recommend always checking local regulations or seeking guidance from dental clinics when opting for any disposal method.

In the grand scheme of things, dentures may seem like small items. However, their disposal or repurposing can make a significant difference, both environmentally and emotionally. Whether you choose to turn them into a work of art, donate them, or seek out sustainable disposal methods, remember to handle them with care and thoughtfulness.


Deciding what to do with old dentures is a blend of environmental responsibility, creative thinking, and personal sentiment. Whether you choose to transform them into art, donate them, or simply dispose of them properly, always ensure you’re making a choice that aligns with your values and the greater good of our planet.


Can I sell my old dentures?

While it’s technically possible, there’s limited demand for used dentures. Cleanliness is a concern, and most people prefer custom-fit dentures.

Are dentures biodegradable?

No, traditional dentures are made from a combination of metals and acrylics which are non-biodegradable.

Can I repurpose the metal in dentures?

Yes, if you can separate the metal from the acrylic, the metal can often be recycled or repurposed.

Is it safe to keep old dentures at home?

Yes, but if you intend to reuse them in any capacity, ensure they’re cleaned and sterilized regularly.

Remember: Always prioritize your safety and the environment when deciding what to do with old dentures.


  • Chris Chamberlan

    Chris Chamberlan, passionate animal welfare activist and USC graduate, conducted undercover RSPCA missions exposing slaughterhouse malpractices. A vegan and advocate for humane treatment, Chris has spoken at international conferences, been involved in vegan outreach, and founded Solarpunk Solutions for sustainability. His blending of animal welfare with eco-living principles for a compassionate future.

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