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Another Voice: Proposed rule would protect dental patients

By Andy Jakson

“All politics is local” is a phrase we have all heard many times referring to the reality that real change at the top of government is driven by strong voices in local government.

Erie County Legislature Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo is one of those strong voices when it comes to protecting the health and well-being of his constituents. And now he has a particular interest in protecting the safety of dental patients in our county.

Lorigo is proposing a new health and safety regulation that calls for the disclosure of the country where certain dental prosthetics are manufactured, and what materials are being used in that process. He is aware of the potential lurking danger in the dental industry.

The FDA has regulations for the disclosure of the fiber and materials content and capacity for virtually every consumable in America, including country of origin, manufacturer identity, washing directions and even disclosure demands for the latest trendy gadget, fidget spinners. But especially shocking is that the FDA falls short in its demands for dental implant and dental prosthetic safety. There are zero rules or mandates that regulate what is implanted, placed or permanently affixed in someone’s mouth!

The FDA has not recognized or acknowledged the potential inclusion of lead in some dental prosthetics manufactured overseas, nor the negative and dangerous effect that dental prosthetics containing lead can have on patients.

The National Association of Dental Laboratories was contacted by a dental patient living in Ohio who shared with them documentation of lead contamination in an acquired dental bridge. The patient received the bridge, and very shortly after its placement the patient began to have an extreme negative reaction. When it was being removed, the dentist told the patient the prescription had been sent to an offshore laboratory and the restoration was manufactured in China. The patient sent the bridge for analysis, which revealed the dental material contained a dangerous level of lead.

Often dental clinicians don’t realize that outsourcing the production of their prosthetics to offshore dental laboratories for cost-saving reasons may result in subpar or dangerous products being placed in their patients’ mouths.

I have my own personal experience of working with a laboratory in China that alleged to make permanent dental fixtures using the FDA-approved materials I provided to them to make and process my order. In a stunning actuality, I discovered the laboratory was selling the approved materials I supplied on China’s black market and then distributed and exported other dental products made with inferior materials.

I immediately terminated my relationship with that laboratory, and after several months of internal debate, I finally decided to accept the shipment held at the Chinese border. Not to my surprise, but to my dismay, mold was growing on the models.

I strongly urge every community in the country to follow and support Lorigo’s proposal.

Andy Jakson is CEO of Evolution Dental Science in Buffalo.

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