One hundred billion dollars is a great deal of money, particularly when it leaves the U.S. That amount of dental work is done for U.S. patients in other countries, and the work can put the U.S. dental patient at risk.
Many foreign dental prosthetics use materials that are not close to being similar to materials approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and they often are subpar. Permanently affixing -- without disclosing -- foreign dental prosthetics to someone's mouth is concerning.
I ask the next U.S. presidential administration not to forget dentistry or the hardworking American dental technician.
If President-elect Trump is serious about ending trade deficits, the dental industry is a quick fix and would protect the American public and jobs. It used to be that technology from other countries would set them apart -- we were beaten in almost every area.
Today, that is not the case dentistry. The technology and engineering skills that Americans have make us more competitive than ever. We could actually be close to the same cost per unit. However, U.S. dental laboratory technicians are being totally left behind because of work being done in foreign labs.
The laboratory I built was proud to have recently hosted U.S. Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), the White House transition team's congressional liaison who has seen firsthand the struggles of small businesses and dental laboratories.
In my experience, much of the dental work done elsewhere and returned to this country often does not have appropriate inorganic materials, and these components end up affixed to an individual's mouth. Dentists and patients have no legal recourse if something goes wrong with Chinese or foreign prosthetics.
Many U.S. dental laboratories have closed in just over a decade, along with dental laboratory schools. The reason dental laboratories have closed in the last years is the availability of low-cost laboratory services outside of the U.S.
This column is not a request for government subsidies; it is a request to put the safety of Americans first. It is requesting that the U.S. government require that patients are notified of foreign prosthetics, foreign materials, and foreign laboratories before a dental prosthetic is placed in their mouths.
The laws governing U.S. dental laboratories are obsolete. The country's dental laboratory industry is technologically prepared to compete with any foreign prosthetic market. Perhaps we just need a chance.
A version of this Second Opinion originally ran in the Buffalo News. DrBicuspid.com appreciates the author's willingness to allow us to reprint it.
Andy Jakson is the CEO of Evolution Dental Science.
The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.