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Saturday, April 12, 2008

Where is my crown from? Does my dental crown have lead in it??

You may have heard recent news reports about lead in dental crowns made in Chinese labs. Who knew? Who would have thought, right? Most Americans have probably never given any thought to where their dental restorations are being made. Most probably assumed they were made here. And, historically that has been true.

The new global economy is changing everything, and that includes the dental profession... or SOME of the dental profession. Cheap overseas labor and shrinking profit margins have forced some dentists to outsource their lab work to foreign labs. These dentists are typically those who participate in low-fee "managed care" insurance programs such as HMOs or DMOs. When dentist signs a contract with these plans, he or she must agree to the insurance company's fee schedule, which is typically 50% or even LESS than their normal fees. Ultimately, to remain in business, corners MUST be cut if you're reducing your fees by 50% or more. One way to lower expenses is by sending lab work to China where the costs are pennies on the dollar compared to American labs.

The potential problem is quality control. At least in the U.S. there is accountability. If a lab used contaminated or poisonous materials, there would be significant liability. If a lab in China does it, what is the American consumer to do? What recourse can we have with a lab 7,000 miles away? Is there some regulatory body in China whose purpose is to protect American consumers? Of course not. In the U.S., the materials used by dental labs in making dental restorations must meet very strict quality standards.

Here's the bottom line: Ask your dentist where your dental restorations are being made. And, remember the saying, “The bitterness of poor quality is remembered long after the sweetness of low price has faded from memory.” And, in the case of lead-contaminated dental crowns, that poor quality may have negative effects on your health. There are certain things for which you shouldn't shop for the lowest price.

At Palm Beach Smiles, our dental crowns are made only in U.S. labs. Only certified, high-quality materials are used. Palm Beach Smiles is located in Boynton Beach, Florida. We can be reached at 561-736-2377, or visit our website at:

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