Post your comments about foreign dental labs to our blog.
When we asked whose responsibility it should be to protect the public from tainted dental work, the most common answer was "dentists." However, some feel the FDA should enforce regulations, while others think the dental labs should police themselves. Very few respondents suggested that patients who are concerned should be responsible for checking with their dentists.
Read the dentists’ comments for further insight.
Who should be responsible for protecting the public from tainted dental work?
Here’s how dentists replied to that question:
- 31% said the FDA
- 25% said dental labs should police themselves
- 41% said dentists should take responsibility; and
- 3% said the burden should be on patients.
General dentists were twice as likely as specialists to feel that FDA should be in charge of safety standards.
Specialists were more likely to say that dentists should bear responsibility for the safety of dental prostheses.
We also asked respondents if the current fuss about possible lead contamination in dental crowns from China is the next big scandal or just a
tempest in a teapot.
One-third of dentists feels this will be the next big scandal, while the remaining two-thirds see it as nothing more than a tempest in a teapot.
General dentists were more likely than specialists to minimize the importance of this recent news. Specialists are 50% more likely than GPs to
say this will be the next big health scandal.
Finally, we asked dentists if they know where their lab work comes from. Sixty percent are certain that all restorations are manufactured within the USA, and another 20% believe that to be the case. Only 10% acknowledge that they know they use products made overseas.
Current estimates suggest that significantly more than 10% of US dentists are actually placing foreign-made dental prostheses (perhaps as high as 25% of dentists). However, some of these dentists may not realize their dental labs work is not produced in the USA.
For more insight, check out these comments!!
- "Patients have been systematically kept in the dark when it comes to dental procedures. Patients should be given informed consent when choosing materials. Otherwise dentists will continue to do what they want to do." (California dentist)
Dentists should take responsibility
- “Too many dentists are accommodating low insurance payment schedules by buying their dental materials and laboratory fabrications that are too cheap. It doesn't seem to matter that it compromises the health of the patient.” (Maryland dentist)
- “We dentists are responsible. Get a list of the elements in your metals used. Use brand-name, approved resins.” (Ohio dentist)
- “Recent events suggest the FDA may not be capable of accurate and honest regulation, and government oversight would not prevent an unscrupulous lab from farming out work. As with most business relationships, one of the best ways to really know what you getting is for the doctor to establish a personal relationship with the lab. This means meeting the owner/director, asking questions, and judging the lab's honesty.” (Pennsylvania dentist)
How much do you know about your lab?
- “My local lab is placing "made in America" on all of the return cases for the patients to see.” (California dentist)
- "This will not change how I operate at all. My partner and I own an in-house lab attached to our office." (Prosthodontist and lab owner)
- “I am very concerned and will be on guard with every lab that I use.” (Florida dentist)
Who do you trust?
- “My lab has assured me that their products are all manufactured in the US. But so what? People don't always tell the truth, but we must put trust in something. I trust my lab and I hope the system is not broken.” (North Carolina dentist)
- “I expect that my US labs are not sending my work off shore and using the quality of material I specify, but how do I know for sure?” (Michigan dentist)
Serious health concerns
- “If you wouldn't put it into your own mouth, you don't put into a patient's mouth.” (Illinois dentist)
- “Hopefully the breaking news leads to mass panic, and everyone heads to the dentist to get checked for leadhead!” (California, not a dentist)
Let’s not overreact
- "We don't know if this is a crisis. The labs and FDA need to test a large number of prosthetics that are produced in USA with foreign materials and in foreign countries. Labs need to be up front when the dentist asks if their work is safe.” (Washington dentist)
The FDA should be in charge
- “The FDA should bear the responsibility, because the labs won't and the dentists can't.” (North Carolina dentist)
- “An appropriate role for the feds. At least there needs to be a requirement for disclosure by the labs, then it becomes the dentists' responsibility.” (Washington dentist)
- “I say the FDA should be in charge, but also a big part of me does not like the idea of federal regulation, which already does not work particularly well. As for the other choices – ouch! The whole dental lab industry is being crunched. Demanding 'US Only' products is not fair, but the cheapest option is not always safe. Having the doctor take responsibility, that's a double ouch! We are not equipped to test, and I doubt the ADA wants to take on that ball of wax. There are basic standards, and if those standards are not upheld here, what are the consequences? Whether it's a faulty tire, a lead dental crown, or a teddy bear stuffed with pins and needles makes no difference.” (North Carolina dentist)
The labs should police themselves
- "The last thing we need is more regulation. Let the labs police themselves. It is up to the dentist to select the best lab for the work
they want to pass on to their patients. It is about time we stopped letting the almighty dollar rule our decisions. How can open communication between lab technician and dentist happen when the prosthesis is being created offshore?" (Pennsylvania dentist)
- “I think that the labs should be held accountable for their work, and the FDA should enforce those regulations. The dentist receives a case from his or her lab and in good faith believes that it is the highest quality work.” (Michigan dental office worker)
Dentists & dental labs
- “If dentists are communicating with their labs and specifying which type of metals to be used, they should be confident the lab is giving them that. If the lab is trying to cut costs by using metals that may contain hazardous materials and are not making dentists aware, the lab should be held responsible. However, if the dentist is using a questionable lab to make a better profit, they should be held responsible. With the cost of dentistry
today to the public today, there should be no reason to skimp on what we are giving our patients.” (Kentucky dentist)
- “Most of us use foreign labs for zirconium cores for porcelain crown work.” (Virginia dentist)
- “Are you passing the savings on to your customers??” (Ohio Dental Lab)
- “How can dentists be held responsible for the lab work if they are not aware that lab is using foreign services?” (Pennsylvania dentist)
No lost love for foreign labs
- “I have used the same local lab for twenty-five years and have not sacrificed my standards for the benefit of my bottom line. China is going to continue to 'eat our lunch' as long as we allow them access to our business inner workings.” (Tennessee dentist)
- “I don't use labs that outsource to foreign countries. Those that choose to do so owe it to their patients to inform them of the practice.” (Arizona dentist)
- “I refuse to use an out-of-country dental lab. I have for the past 35 years used reputable local dental laboratories. I think that it is a disservice to the patient and probably unethical to place unknown alloy dental prostheses into their body.” (Washington dentist)
- “Patients are not responsible. The FDA, labs, and dentists should all be responsible. The dentist should get assurances from their lab that the dental work is safe for patients. The lab needs to be responsible to know where their products are produced and that they are made of safe materials. The FDA needs to inform us as to what materials from which countries are suspect. The lab should not be processing their work from tainted material nor sending the work to suspect countries.” (Washington dentist)
Note: Survey sample included 144 respondents.