Granted it’s something you think about a lot, but for the curious you might find yourself wondering what happens to certain body parts when you die.
Thankfully American mortician and YouTuber, Caitlin Doughty, has the answers.
In one of her videos she focuses on the question “where do gold teeth and blood go when we die?” Yes, you read that correctly.
So, let’s talk about the blood.
Caitlin said: “When a body is embalmed, the blood isn’t circulating anymore, it’s just sitting there like a stagnant pool because your heart isn’t pumping.
“That blood is then pushed out of your body, and replaced with a formaldehyde based solution which will fix the tissues and keep the body preserved for a little longer.”
Long story short, the blood exits the body through an open vein like a jugular vein, runs down the table and goes down a regular drain, like one that’s connected to a sink or a toilet.
She continued: “Once the contents of the body goes into the sewer system, it then goes to a wastewater treatment plant to be cleaned and sanitised, it’s then released into the environment or reused for water in factories or farms.”
Many of you might be thinking, is that even safe? Caitlin has the answer to that too.
“It’s been ingrained into us that blood is dangerous, and to some extent, that’s not wrong. Living people can certainly transmit blood borne pathogens to each other.
“We naturally fear blood as a contaminant, and to be fair, when you say ‘the blood of the dead’ it sounds pretty daunting, but the older the deader the better, because most pathogens can’t live for more than a few hours in a dead body.”
Surprisingly, it’s actually the formaldehyde that is more dangerous for the embalmers than the body fluids.
In a nutshell, we don’t need to worry about corpse blood pathogens in water, as they don’t survive the cleaning process, panic over.
Next, let’s talk about teeth.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, real human teeth were used for dentures that were taken from corpses.
If we fast forward to the present day though, what happens if a corpse has a gold tooth?
Caitin said: “When families ask me if they can get the gold tooth after cremation, which honestly isn’t asked much, my answer is that I don’t feel comfortable extracting those teeth myself, but if you’d like to bring in a dental professional that’s fine.”
“Finding an oral surgeon who is willing to do this kind of extraction is not easy, and let’s be honest, it’s not likely to make financial sense.”
The gold, used in gold crowns, is not 24 carat gold as it would be way too soft, it’s usually an amalgam which can contain 0.1 oz of 16K gold.
“It’s nearly impossible to tell without having the crown analysed, so the average goldish crown price wise is as little as $25 with an average of $50.”
Unfortunately, you’re probably not going to make much money for your grandma’s teeth, purely because the cost of the extraction will outweigh the price of the gold tooth.