San Francisco, CA (PressExposure) June 11, 2008 -- Reports of lead in dental crowns have left dentists understandably worried. A recent poll by dental marketing website The Wealthy Dentist revealed that fully 40% of dentists feel that lead in dental work is definitely not safe, with another 40% feeling that it might be dangerous and requires more research.
News reports surfaced earlier this year of lead in dental restorations. Though the scope of this potential public health crisis is not yet clear, shockingly high levels of lead have been discovered in dental crowns. Chinese dental labs were initially blamed for the contamination. Recent evidence suggests the problem may be even more widespread than previously thought, as dental products from labs in the US and Thailand have also tested positive for lead.
Authorities agree that there is no benefit to having lead in dental work. (In fact, the acidic environment of the mouth may encourage lead to leach out of the dental restoration and into the patient's bloodstream.) The FDA agrees that there should not be lead in these restorations, as all components are supposed to be lead-free. Consequently, no one is certain of the underlying cause for the contamination.
"Lead in dental casting alloy? Outrageous!" exclaimed a Colorado dentist. "There is no sound reason to have lead in dental restorative materials," agreed a Washington dentist. "There is no place for lead in dentistry," declared a Colorado orthodontist.
Though the exact risks of lead in dental work are not known, lead itself is a known toxin. "Lead is bad for the health," said an Ohio dentist. "Highly synergistic toxicity, especially with mercury," warned a Wisconsin dentist.
Everyone agrees on the need for additional research to determine the scope of this problem and prevent future problems. "We should test products and eliminate sources of contamination," suggested a South Dakota dentist.
Some dentists downplay the threat. "This is no more dangerous than leaded crystal or the lead in fine china, but research is warranted," said a Texas dentist. "Recent articles have debunked the worry over the amount of lead in the 'farmed-out' crowns. Still, we need to monitor that work," agreed a California dentist.
"We still don't know if this is a widespread problem or not," said Jim Du Molin, dental continuing education guru and founder of dental management resource The Wealthy Dentist. "This could be a huge public health scandal. Or it could be a minor issue, easily corrected. What's so frustrating right now is not knowing which it is!"