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Editorial: Patients deserve to know where their dentures were made

It’s enough to give pause to anyone with dentures or crowns in their mouths: the possibility that labs in China may have used substandard or even dangerous materials in making them.

Erie County Legislature Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo wants to at least require disclosure of where the prosthetics placed in patients’ mouths are made. His proposed law is expected to be sent to the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee for discussion.

It is an important health issue that really ought to be addressed at the state level, if not nationally.

Lorigo, who has an appointment to receive his first dental crown later this month, has taken up what he correctly said should be a bipartisan issue.

Meantime, the public has something to chew on.

As News staff reporter Sandra Tan wrote, the proposed local law started with Andy Jakson, owner of Evolution Dental Science lab in Cheektowaga. Jakson had supplied FDA-approved materials to a lab in China that was supposed to use them to make crowns and other permanent dental fixtures.

Turns out the company was selling those FDA-approved materials on the black market and using inferior products.

The Food and Drug Administration has standards for dental prosthetics, requiring them to last seven years. But, as Tan wrote, many people walk around with these dental fixtures for 20 years or more. And if the right materials aren’t used, patients can run the risk of absorbing bacteria or having contaminants leech into their bodies.

The American Dental Association and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not found “sufficient evidence” that the public has to worry about having dental work made by overseas companies. But, as Tan wrote, an investigative report from 2008 tested multiple crowns made in China and found unacceptable levels of lead.

“It’s silly that we’ve got to know where shoes are made because they’re going to be touching your skin, but something that is permanently placed in your mouth has no disclosure at all,” said Jakson.

We agree. There is nothing wrong with requiring full disclosure about the origins of a prosthetic that may become part of someone’s body for many years.

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