Most dental patients do not know the answer to this question – most also do not know that poor-quality dental restorations can contain harmful materials that could lead to a range of health consequences. With tooth loss and other dental issues prevalent among seniors, it is important that all, but especially older people, are aware of where their dental restorations are coming from to avoid complications and health issues.
From dentures to bridges, many patients assume these common types of restorations are made by their dentists. However, most dentists do not make restorations themselves. Many dentists work with laboratories and technicians, either in the U.S. or abroad, to order customized dental restorations for their patients.
Shockingly, dental laboratories in more than 40 U.S. states are unregulated, and only four states require certification for those who create dental restorations. About 38 percent of restorations are manufactured overseas, and foreign laboratories may not be held to the same government-issued standards.
The National Association of Dental Laboratories (NADL) encourages transparency and accountability to advance the standards of the dental laboratory industry. NADL has launched the “What’s in Your Mouth?” campaign to raise public awareness on safety issues related to dental restorations. NADL’s goal is for patients to take control of their health by asking their dentists the following four questions:
Do you use a Certified Dental Technician (CDT) for your laboratory work?
Dental technicians are responsible for creating restorations for dentists. The CDT designation places these individuals at the top of their profession by taking the extra step to be certified. Anyone working in a health-related field should be certified, and dental technicians should be no different. You can locate a CDT in your area at https://nbccert.org/directories/nbc-whos-who/.
Is the laboratory you work with certified?
Certified Dental Laboratories (CDLs) meet specific standards for safety in manufacturing. You can locate a CDL in your area at https://nbccert.org/directories/nbc-whos-who-cdl/.
Where is your dental laboratory located?
Understanding where a dental laboratory is located can help you access the regulations put in place for that state or country. While all laboratories are required to comply with certain Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, some states require additional minimum standards aimed at patient protection. See which states have additional standards at www.whatsinyourmouth.us/state-regulation/.
What materials were used to create my restoration?
Patients should have access to their personal dental records that outline the patient contact materials that are used in their restorations and also in what country such finished restorations are manufactured.