OK. I will admit it. I chose this provocative title to get your attention.
Nearly everyone has heard the news surrounding Lumber Liquidators and the flooring containing elevated levels of the chemical formaldehyde. Formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, was found in flooring manufactured in China and sold by Lumber Liquidators.
Understandably, people do not want to live in a home where there might be elevated levels of formaldehyde. But did you know that tens of thousands of Americans are walking around with crowns and dentures in their mouth that were made in China with possible toxic chemicals?
Toxic Chemicals in Dental Crowns from China
Let’s look at incidents from across the world where toxic chemicals were detected in dental crowns and bridges from China and other Asian countries:
- In Ohio, a woman’s dental bridge that came from a lab in China was tested and found to contain high levels of lead. Additional crowns were then ordered from Chinese labs and some were found to contain lead at a concentration of 490 ppm – nearly five times above the 100 ppm for children’s toys set by the CPSC. Based on this article, the dentistry was performed by Aspen Dental.
- In this news report out of Australia, they found lead, cadmium and beryllium in many all-ceramic cosmetic dental crowns originating from several Asian countries.
- This report from the UK talks about the surge of Chinese crowns being brought into Britain and the lack of oversight over the materials used.
This is not just restricted to wood flooring and dental crowns. Remember the lead paint made in China that was used on Mattel toys?
In the United States, the FDA has the authority to inspect and investigate any dental lab. And there are strict laws governing the contents of dental materials. Do you think China has similar safeguards?
You Get What You Pay For
As a dentist in Connecticut, I only use United States based dental labs, and I know my lab fees. From the advertisements I receive from Chinese labs, I could get prosthetics at one fifth the price. So that means if I have to pay a Connecticut based lab $250 for a crown, I could probably have it done in China for around $50 or even less.
At my office, we will periodically get phone calls from patients asking about our fees for crowns. Since we only do high quality dentistry, our fees are higher than many other offices. How do you think dental offices are able to offer $400 crowns? You guessed it – they’re most likely made in China. In fact, if you believe this post, one large corporate dental chain uses labs in China for their crowns. The use of Chinese labs by this corporate chain owned by a Wall Street Private Equity Form was also noted in this article.
So, if you shop around thinking “all crowns are the same” you will likely end up with an inferior or substandard crown. Remember this famous saying: the bitterness of poor quality is remembered long after the sweetness of low price has faded from memory.
Your Rights as Dental Patients
In the wake of these findings, legislation was introduced in several states regarding dental materials. Laws can and will change. In general:
- You have the right to ask your dentist where your crown and/or denture was fabricated.
- You have the right to ask your dentist about the materials used in any dental prosthesis.
In general, if your dental office doesn’t want to give you this information, you should be suspect. As a dentist in private practice, I welcome inquiries from my patients, since I only use dental labs based in my home state.
And lastly, there are no known cases of crowns containing formaldehyde. I only included this given the news surrounding Lumber Liquidators and the Chinese laminate flooring.
Legal disclaimer: the information presented in this article about two large corporations was derived from news reports. Those sources are referenced and linked to. This blog post does not purport to verify the accuracy of those news stories. As always, conduct your own research prior to making conclusions and deciding from whom to receive dental care.