The American Dental Association (ADA) has recommended patients ask five prudent questions of their dentists before having dental work after an Ohio woman became ill because a Chinese-made crown was laced with lead.
The investigation by a TV news programme revealed two cases of sick patients after lead was found in their dental restorations.
The discovery prompted Florida lawmakers to push for full disclosure and the ADA to issue guidelines to its members regarding outsourcing work abroad.
The ADA’s guideline five questions for aptients to ask their dentists are:
• 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 going to be used in my restoration?
• What other options do I have?
As much as 20% of the crowns, bridges, veneers, dentures and other dental fixtures used by US dentists are made in China or other foreign countries.
Like other imports, fewer than 1% of dental products are apparently inspected by the Food and Drug Administration.
Here, the GDC maintain that dentists who commission technical work from laboratories outside the UK – and which do not meet the standards set by the Medical Devices Directive (MDD) – are in danger of being solely culpable if mistakes are made.
By the end of July, registration of dental care professionals is mandatory and all technical work in the UK must be undertaken in a laboratory that employs technicians registered with the GDC.
Additionally, all labs must be registered with the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.
Currently, the only guarantee is via a third party, the laboratory’s ‘authorised representative’ in the UK, who is supposed to be responsible for ensuring that the manufacturer complies with the MDD.