The coronavirus is a poignant example of why all states should adopt dental laboratory registration and disclosure so that all dental laboratories are accountable to provide written disclosure to the dentist of material content and point of origin of all dental restorations provided to the dentist.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says it is possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes. ( https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html ) It is reported that the virus may last on an infected surface for as long as 9 days (https://www.livescience.com/how-long-coronavirus-last-surfaces.html). Imagine if a dentist were to place an infected import from a country where COVID-19 is spreading into a patient’s mouth.
In most states, disclosure is not required. Many dentists do not know whether the dental laboratory they ordered from made the restoration themselves or imported it. In states without disclosure it is perfectly legal for a dental laboratory to provide an imported restoration without disclosing it.
This systemic failure poses a completely unnecessary risk to dentists, everyone in the dentist’s office, dental patients and the general public.
Most dental laboratories are conscientious and ethical. However, in states without dental laboratory disclosure and registration there may be little or no practical way to hold an unscrupulous dental laboratory accountable were they to falsely represent that they made the imported restoration. And how many cases would it really take before we have a problem in the United States?
We will continue to look for more ways to get this message out. It is more important now that ever for dentists, dental laboratories and patients to go to www.whatsinyourmouth.us to help spread the word through through your social media contacts, websites, networks and more.
Dentistry is regulated at the state level. Accordingly, it is incumbent upon state dental societies to take some leadership in creating an accountable system for dental laboratory registration and disclosure. We especially urge dentists to contact their state dental society and ask them what they are doing to implement dental laboratory registration and disclosure to protect dentists, their staff and their patients.
The impact on dental practices is twofold. Practices may find a delay in products and supplies shipped from China due to the quarantine and work stoppage. Practices also find they need to take precautionary steps to protect staff and patients while doing their part to minimize the potential spread of the virus.
As today that the dental clinics are slowly reopening, not only orders from laboratories are delayed but also the patients, as they are needed to be checked before to be accepted for dental procedures. Although there might be delays, safety for every individual is prioritized.