Lead Found in Outsourced China Dental Work

BonaDent Dental Laboratories, headquartered in Seneca Falls, New York, is urging all dental patients to ask one simple question: Where will my dental restorations be made? This potentially life- saving recommendation comes in the wake of reported incidents of lead contamination and adverse reactions resulting from foreign-made dental restorations. An increasing number of commercial dental chains and laboratories have been outsourcing their dental restorations to China and India, with potentially dangerous consequences.According to a February 26, 2008, statement issued by the National Association of Dental Laboratories (NADL), there was a recent case of a female dental patient in Ohio who suffered an adverse reaction to her three-unit bridge as a result of lead contamination. It was only after having the bridge removed that the patient’s dentist disclosed that her restoration was actually sent to a dental lab in China. The Ohio woman’s bridge was found to have unsafe levels of lead. In an independent study by a Cleveland, Ohio television station (www.10tv.com), an Ohio chemical research center and The Boston University School of Medicine showed crowns from an offshore dental laboratory from China contained as much as 210 parts per million of lead in the crown’s porcelain. The chemical analysis also showed traces of radioactive isotopes. In 2007 the U.S. Congress lowered the acceptable levels of lead in toys to 90 parts per million.“You can’t buy a t-shirt or sneakers without a label that clearly states ‘Made in China’ but dentists currently have no legal obligation to disclose to the patient what country their permanent dental restoration was fabricated,” explains Bruce Bonafiglia President and CEO of BonaDent Dental Laboratories, a third generation Nationally Certified dental lab in Central New York. “Offshore laboratories are not held to the standards that American laboratories are and this most recent case is a clear example of the risks involved when using those offshore labs.”Six months ago Bonafiglia was visited by Congressman Michael Arcuri and his staff to get more information regarding this problem. According to Bonafiglia, “Arcuri and his staff immediately contacted the NADL and FDA to investigate the problem and express their concern. I believe a letter from the Congressman to the FDA was written calling for reform.”There has been a healthcare trend in the United States for years to try to control the costs of dental restorations provided to patients. Bonafiglia believes that if dentists become legally obligated to fully disclose to the patient the country of origin, offshore restoration savings will only slightly decrease the cost of treatment to the patient. Bonafiglia, through his 35 years of experience, believes, “Nearly all private practices in our area use local labs here in the United States. You’ll find that the larger commercially-owned dental chains ship the majority of their crowns and bridges to China while fabricating their dentures in house. When Congress dropped the acceptable levels of lead in toys to 90 parts per million they certainly would be appalled to know that at the same time they are unknowingly allowing dental restorations that live in your mouth for a lifetime to be at lead levels that exceed 200 parts per million!”Four years ago Bonafiglia saw the increase in demand for lower cost dental restorations and the need to maintain U.S. jobs and opened a subsidiary of BonaDent, Danaren Dental Laboratory. Danaren utilizes an assembly-line process and Cad-Cam technology which allows the dental restoration pricing to be more competitive. “Danaren follows the same rules and regulations every other U.S. dental lab has to follow and remains competitively priced with offshore labs while increasing local employment,” explains Erin Bonafiglia, General Manager of Danaren. According to the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor and Statistics there are 12,089 dental laboratories operating in the United States employing 48,000 dental technicians. This figure does not include support and administrative staff estimated at another 20,000. Since 2006, more than 2,000 U.S. dental laboratories closed their doors due in part to the increase in outsourcing. About BonaDent Dental LaboratoriesBonaDent Dental Laboratories is a Nationally Certified family enterprise founded 55 years ago by Bruce’s father Angelo. Bruce H. Bonafiglia, daughters Daniele, Erin and his sister Andrea operate their three laboratories in Seneca Falls, New York and Melbourne, Florida employing more than 200 people. For more information contact [email protected]

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