Mon, Nov 13, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Dentists `recycle' molars for cash

WASTE NOT, WANT NOT A dental association is using the money raised from the program to sponsor several local charities, including a society for disabled swimmers

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

Chen Ya-yi, senior attending dentist at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and director of the Taipei Dental Association's (TDA) board of executives presents a dozen used dental crowns yesterday as part of the TDA's project to extract useful metals from used dental amalgam to raise money for charity.

PHOTO: LIN HSIANG-MEI, TAIPEI TIMES

For decades, used dental crowns have been simply discarded as medical waste here in Taiwan, but the Taipei Dental Association (TDA) has discovered that with a little cooperation from its mem-bers, there's gold in them thar molars!

"It was difficult for the project to gain acceptance," said Chen Ya-yi (陳雅怡), senior attending dentist at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and the director of the TDA's board of executives. "But now we've turned something that was previously useless into a resource."

Not just gold, but platinum, silver and palladium can be recovered from used dental amalgam. Two hundred and twenty- five dental clinics participated in the waste crowns recycling program this year, contributing more than 40kg of used crowns, yielding more than NT$1.1 million (US$33,000) worth of precious metals. All the proceeds from the program will go toward the TDA's charity projects.

One charity that benefitted is the Taipei Disability Swimming Association (TDSA).

"We were able to send 18 competitors to the International Down Syndrome Swimming Championships in Ireland this year thanks in part to the TDA," said Angela Huang (黃桂瑛), general-secretary of the TDSA and the mother of a 28-year-old contestant who bought home one of 13 gold medals won by the Taiwanese team along with nine silver and six bronze medals.

"A stroke that takes 10 tries to learn for a regular person can take 100 tries for someone with Down Syndrome," Huang said.

"But the confidence and pride they gain from it can work wonders for their development,"Huang said.

In another project involving Down Syndrome sufferers, TDA is sponsoring a program that will teach children with Down Syndrome how to brush their teeth correctly on their own.

Wang Kwei-feng (王貴鳳), tuberculosis care and prevention section director at the Center for Disease Control, appealed to the TDA for funds to help at-risk tuberculosis patients.

"The government pays for tuberculosis patients' medical care," Wang said.

"However, if the patient does not have enough money to take the bus to the hospital, then their treatment has to be interrupted," he said.

"The TDA provided NT$18,000 which helped 44 patients to recover," Wang said. "Their kindness and generosity has made a real difference."

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