Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Consumer Activism: Better Watch Your Mouth


In the wake of a Midwestern woman being sickened by lead-tainted dental work that was outsourced to China, consumers are being asked to inquire about the origins of their crowns, veneers, bridges and dentures.

Millions of dental prostheses are being prescribed by dentists in the United States, but are made in labs in China, India, the Philippines, Mexico, Eastern Europe, Costa Rica and elsewhere. Many experts are concerned about the outsourcing because raw materials used abroad may not meet U.S. standards.

Foreign labs produce a substantial proportion of Americans' restorative appliances, and are supposed to follow rules, said Bennett Napier, co-executive director of the National Association of Dental Laboratories in Tallahassee. "The FDA regulates the raw materials used....[and] these labs have to register with the FDA and they are supposed to use FDA-approved materials. But the FDA is inspecting less than 1 percent of the restorations that are coming in from foreign dental laboratories," he said.

The new scare rekindles memories of lead-contaminated products from China last year.

Long Island dental lab owners Leslie and Terry Cloper say consumers should be concerned because "patients do not know where their lab work is being done. When you buy food or clothing there is a label requirement," she said. "But when you have something inserted in your mouth there isn't," Leslie Cloper said.


The American Dental Association encourages patients to discuss concerns about the safety of their dental crowns or other prosthetic devices with their dentists. The quality and the safety of dental materials you receive should matter most. Some questions you can discuss with your dentist:
  • Do you fashion your own crowns, bridges and other dental materials in the office or buy them from a dental lab?
  • Where is the dental lab located?
  • Does the lab outsource crowns or bridges to a foreign country?
  • What materials are being used in my restoration?
  • What other options do I have?
Chinese Dental Labs Turn Lead into Gold?:

As a dentist, it’s your job to make sure you can stand behind the safety of any restorations you do.

1 comment:

a flittermouse said...

Thank you, Dana!