Not many prosthodontists in Australia can say they have a technician in the same building preparing their patients dental prosthetics. But for us at the Western Prosthodontic Centre, it was important that we invested in the staff and equipment so that our laboratory was in the same building.
The Problem with Overseas Labs
More dentists and specialists are organising to have their dental appliances made overseas than ever before. But there are cases around the world of patients suffering adverse reactions to prosthetics that contain contaminants such as nickel, lead and bacteria. Unless dental appliances are sent off for testing after arriving in Australia, no one knows what raw materials were used during their manufacture.
The standard of hygiene of overseas manufacturing facilities is also unknown. Banned materials, contaminants and bacteria in dental appliances can lead to compromised patient health.
The cost savings of using overseas manufacturers is rarely passed on to the patient. The dental provider may not tell the patient that their dental appliances are being made overseas so they can benefit from the higher profit margin.
Inquiry into Overseas Dental Appliance
In 2015, an Inquiry into the Sourcing and Supply of Dental Prostheses and Appliances to Australian Dental Practitioners from Overseas was held. Evidence provided to the Committee suggested that around 50 to 60 per cent of the market for custom-made dental devices is likely to be sourced from overseas manufacturers.
Twenty years ago, most custom-made dental devices were manufactured in Australia. The Committee heard that current regulatory arrangements aren’t adequate to ensure that imported dental devices meet minimum Australian safety and quality standards. A crown made in Asia can cost as little as $20, less than the cost of Australian regulated materials. The Committee heard that imported dental devices are more likely to contain unapproved, harmful substances, such as heavy metals.
The devices are often made by factory workers who are trained to complete a small part in the production line rather than a trained technician.
Why We Choose In-House Laboratory
There are several reasons patients benefit from seeing a prosthodontist that has an in-house laboratory.
Many prosthodontic patients want their devices made as soon as possible to minimise the time they’re without their new dentures or bridge and to finish treatment quickly so they can get on with life. Our in-house prosthetics technician means there’s no delay with sending moulds away and receiving the final product. Being in the same building, devices can be made and fitted on the patient, sometimes within hours.
Being made in Australia is always safest. Our specialists enjoy complete peace of mind knowing the devices they supply to patients are made in the same building using regulated and safe raw materials. Some patients have compromised immune systems or chronic health problems so any dental device needs to be free of contaminants or materials that may cause illness.
Life of the Product
Some devices made overseas don’t last like Australian made devices. Poor quality materials and a lack of manufacturing skill can result in poor fit, breakage and poor aesthetics including shape, shade, and finish.
Highly qualified technicians produce devices that match surrounding teeth in shape and colour. We’ve seen many patients looking for replacement devices due to aesthetic deterioration.
Convenient for Fittings
When patients come in to have their devices fitted, it’s normal to need minor adjustments to ensure it’s the best fit and cosmetic outcome possible. Having a technician in the building means minor adjustments can be made without the need for a patient to return for another appointment. In addition, should a further appointment be required, there will be no doubt regarding fit, function or cosmetic outcome.
If you have seen another specialist but would like to hear what our specialist recommends, we often provide second opinion consultations. We may not be the cheapest if your first quote is for a device made overseas, but we’re confident that you will be very happy with the quality of a device made in our lab.
We encourage everyone considering dental implants or dental restorative work to ask their dentist or prosthodontist where the appliances will be made. Any device that it’s placed on or in the body has a chance of causing an adverse impact to your health, so you deserve to make an informed decision about its manufacture.
Call Western Prosthodontic Centre on 9321 1632 or contact us online if you would like to discuss a new or replacement dental device