Tallahassee, Fla. – Proposed nationwide regulations for dental laboratories may be the perfect prescription for the oral health care profession – especially when dentists and consumers understand why the need for minimum standards is so great. Today, dental laboratories in more than 40 states in the U.S. remain unregulated and the person who flipped burgers today could be your dental technician tomorrow.
In a 2009 American Dental Association (ADA) member survey, nearly 65 percent of dentists responded that they believe dental technicians and laboratories are licensed in their state. This is not the case. In fact, only four states in the U.S. require either certification or continuing education.
Poorly-made dental restorations can lead to a range of health consequences for patients and, in turn, legal consequences for dentists. Growing demand for dental work has created a market that features both high-end and economy-priced work. This has inspired some unqualified producers to set up shop almost anywhere, with a strong disregard for standards, like the Ohio laboratory exposed in a news story in 2013.
“Hairdressers, nail technicians and salons are all required to be licensed,” said Gary Iocco, National Association of Dental Laboratories (NADL) President and Co-Chair of NADL’s Public Awareness Committee. “Why is this not the case for dental laboratories and the technicians who make a device that in some cases is permanently placed in the mouth?”
In November 2013, the ADA urged states to enact dental laboratory registration as a means to enhance patient health and safety. NADL proposed standards include requiring laboratory registration, requiring a Certified Dental Technician in each laboratory, requiring minimum continuing education, disclosing what materials are present in the dental restoration and disclosing where the restoration was manufactured.
“What has been missing is a tie to enforcing dentistry best practices,” said Iocco. “Our hope is that dentists will aspire to deliver quality restorations to their patients by ensuring that the dental laboratories and the technicians they use are qualified.”
NADL’s “What’s in Your Mouth?” campaign is a resource that gives patients, dentists and the dental laboratory community the information necessary to make informed decisions about their dental needs.
For more information, please visit the NADL website Public Awareness link at www.nadl.org.