The Gold Tooth Standard: What You Can Buy With a Mouthful of Metal

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Gold closed at yet another record high. People are now willing to pay $1852.20 per ounce of the gleaming metal. This means that even tiny amounts of gold are now worth quite a bit. 


This got me thinking. What about gold teeth? I called up gold-buyer GoldFellow and asked their VP of marketing, Janis Rafkin, if she could weigh a gold tooth they'd recently gotten in. She was nice enough to comply and came back with a weight of three grams. Most gold teeth are only about 2/3 gold, so you figure it actually contains two grams of gold. That makes the theoretical value of such a gold bit on the world market $132. (For a lot of reasons, selling a tiny amount of gold will never fetch its world per-ounce price, but go with the hypothetical for a few minutes.)

Your mouth has 32 teeth, so imagine that you sold 32 gold teeth at the current world market price. You're looking at $4,234! Here's what you could buy or pay for with that amount of money. 

The point here is that gold is worth a ridiculous amount of money. You can buy a lot in the real world for the tiny amount of gold contained in artificial teeth. That's one reason the gold buying business has taken off. 
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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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