Where were your dental products made? Experts warn of overseas production

More than one-third of the dental laboratory products placed in the mouths of U.S. patients are made overseas, experts said.

The products face few, if any, health and safety inspections or regulations, depending on the state. It’s one of the many ways our country and state fail to regulate the industry.

“We’re the only non-third world country that doesn’t have some form of requirements for dental technicians and dental laboratories,” said Elizabeth Curran, a certified technician who runs Ahwatukee Dental Laboratory.

Curran has been advocating for stricter standards in her industry for years.  

She’s also done research for the National Association of Dental Laboratories (NADL), which estimates that nearly 40 percent of dental lab products are made overseas.

The NADL also estimates those products come from as many as 40 different countries.

“You don’t know where your crowns come from,” Curran said. “You don’t know what material is in it. You don’t know who made it. You don’t know if they made it specifications.

“Because it’s part of your body, it’s critical you should have access to that information,” she said.

In 2008, dental products shipped in from China made national headlines when dangerous levels of lead were discovered.

Bennett Napier, an executive with the NADL, says there are also U.S. labs that take orders from dentists, ship the orders overseas, and then repackage the products once they return.

Despite the warnings, only 10 states require labs to disclose some level of information about where materials were made and created.

Arizona is not one of those states.

Earlier this week, ABC15 also exposed how dental laboratories and technicians in Arizona face virtually zero regulation - a lack of oversight that experts say can put patients at risk.

Labs are not required to register with the state, and there are no health or safety inspections. For technicians who make dental products, Arizona doesn’t require any sort of certification or education.

Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at dbiscobing@abc15.com.

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