Finally! It’s been so long since we’ve posted about anything tainted with lead that we were starting to wonder if all the world’s trade problems had been resolved—but now comes a new study that found 210 parts per million (ppm) of lead in the porcelain veneer of a dental crown ordered from China. That’s a lot less than the CPSC’s current 600 ppm threshold, but a lot more than the international standard of only 90 ppm. The good news is it’s highly unlikely developing children will need a mouth full of crowns and bridges. The bad news is it’s yet another example of how hazardous material can slip undiscovered into the marketplace—and your mouth.
The Columbus Dispatch says that an estimated 7 million dental appliances in the U.S. come from foreign labs, and make up about one-fifth of the market. A Columbus television news station decided to test a few:
Working with a Columbus dentist, WBNS ordered eight supposedly identical dental crowns from four labs in China, the source of a growing number of dental implants used by U.S. dentists. The labs are regular advertisers in industry publications distributed in the United States.
A certified testing facility in Cleveland found that the porcelain veneer of one of the crowns contained lead — 210 parts per million.
In response, the ADA announced that it’s alerted the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and that “it has begun its own ‘larger-scale investigation into the safety of both foreign and domestically produced dental crowns and other dental prostheses.'”
Until the results are available, the ADA says patients with concerns might want to ask their dentists these questions:
- Do you make your own crowns, bridges, etc., or buy them from a dental laboratory?
- Where is the lab located?
- Does the lab outsource crowns or bridges to a foreign country?
- If the lab is in a foreign country, does it provide written documentation that it is registered with the FDA?
- Does the lab provide written documentation that it uses FDA-approved materials?
- Have you noticed any problems with the crowns, bridges or other items produced by this lab?
We think the first three questions are good, and the last three questions are busywork from the ADA to make you feel like you’re doing something to protect yourself. If you’re really concerned about lead in foreign-made dental crowns, look for domestic or local labs.
Any dentists or dental lab techs lurking? Have you heard anything about this topic?
(Thanks to Cassandra!)