Can dental offices survive a 39% reduction in U.S. dental labs? If that happens, will patients get the same quality restorations?
From 2006-2017 the number of dental laboratories in the U.S. will be reduced by 39%, according to predictions reported by the National Association of Dental Laboratories (NADL). Data was compiled by Valmont Research and the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As the number of dental laboratories in the U.S. shrinks, dentists will have fewer domestic options when deciding where to supply their patients’ dental restorations. Already, many dentists are using dental restorations produced in other countries.
“Every day Americans depend on dentists to place long-lasting to permanent dental restorations without any knowledge of where or how that restoration was produced,” said Gary Iocco, co-chair of the NADL Public Awareness Committee. “Dental patients should have trust in their dentist, but they should also be an informed consumer.”
Although most patients never see dental laboratories, the quality of dental restorations could severely impact patients’ health. Patients should hold dental laboratories to the same standard of cleanliness and professionalism that they expect from their dentists.
NADL is promoting transparency in dentistry and the role and value of trained dental technicians by promoting public awareness of these issues which affect many dental patients. In order to spread the word about the need for standards, NADL has launched the “What’s in Your Mouth?” campaign to provide dental consumers, dentists and the dental laboratory community with the knowledge they need to make important purchasing decisions.
“What’s in Your Mouth?” encourages patients to assess the quality of their restorations by asking their dentist these 5 basic questions:
1) What are the qualifications of the dental technician that will create my restoration? Are they a Certified Dental Technician?
2) Is the laboratory you work with certified and by whom?
3) Where is your dental laboratory located?
4) What patient contact materials are in the restorations you are prescribing for the treatment plan?
5) How does your dental practice ensure that it is not using misbranded or grey market dental materials?
So what does this mean for you as a dentist? Be prepared for patients to ask more questions about your lab and materials used in restorations as the NADL continues their “What’s in Your Mouth?” campaign. And, if the number of U.S. dental labs declines as predicted, let's hope that patients continue to receive the same quality restorations from their labs.
How well do you REALLY know your lab? Read more.