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Inside Dental Technology
July 2017
Volume 8, Issue 7

Response to the Bloomberg/Businessweek Article on the Dental Laboratory Industry

In April, an article was published online on Bloomberg.com and also appeared in the April 24th print version of Businessweek magazine related to imported dental restorations and potential tariffs on imported products. This is the first time a national media outlet has covered any aspect of the dental laboratory industry in over 30 years.

In early March 2017, the reporter who wrote the article contacted NADL to gather information about the dental laboratory industry. The original storyline of the article was going to focus on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and import trade tariffs and whether or not tariffs would reduce the amount of dental laboratory work coming in from Mexico. NADL educated the reporter on the dental laboratory market and the larger issues facing dentistry. NADL provided the names of nearly 20 individuals involved in the US dental laboratory industry to the reporter that he could speak with to gather more information and diverse viewpoints. Those recommended by NADL included owners of small, medium, and large dental laboratories, as well as several suppliers/manufacturers.

As with any news article, NADL had no control over the content of the story, nor the storyline. At the very beginning and throughout the story development process, NADL provided detailed government data to the reporter. NADL also provided the reporter specific elements of NADL market research. As the trade association representing the dental laboratory industry and profession in the United States, NADL would have preferred a focus on additional topics within the story.

Given the storyline, the article did not provide information on the valuable role that dental laboratory technicians and dental laboratories play in dentistry, and it had other shortcomings. It is widely known in our industry that dental technicians in general are formally educated and have considerable job experience, and referring to them as cobblers did not reflect that. Dental technicians provide a high level of consultation to their dentist clients on the most complex of cases.

The article also left the reader with unanswered questions. Most articles, especially when published online, prompt thinking and reaction and don’t have the word count to put forth any solutions. This article did not guide the reader to take any specific action; rather it provided information on market trends.

Its title also did not depict the contents accurately. News outlets seek readers and the title used online was selected to spark engagement and click-throughs by Bloomberg readers. The title of the print version article was, “US Dental Labs Are Gritting Their Teeth,” while the Bloomberg.com article was titled, “Trump’s Trade War Will Make Your Dentist Visits Even Costlier.” Clearly these two titles evoke different reactions even though the content is the same.

NADL has maintained communication with the reporter, and a possible second story on the dental laboratory market may be published. It appears a second story would focus on the supply chain and transparency from the material supplier to the dental laboratory, to the dentist, and ultimately to the dental patient.

The Bloomberg article can be found at bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-21/your-imported-teeth-are-a-battlefield-as-trump-takes-on-trade

Here is the complete NADL response: nadl.org/news/index.cfm?#n2311

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