As a dentist, you will undoubtedly use equipment at some point in your career that has the potential to do great harm. Drills, files and even x-ray machines can all hurt patients in some way if used irresponsibly. However, even skilled dentists can be let down by low-quality tools, which are found in a surprisingly large number of practices.
This is due to the rise in counterfeit dental products, which regulators are now warning dentists to be aware of. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), along with other organisations in the dental sector, has launched a campaign to get oral healthcare professionals to check their equipment for signs of forgery.
Over 12,000 low-quality dental tools were seized last year, which indicates the scale of the problem. Many of these were made overseas and sold online, often using websites such as Amazon or eBay. These items were usually much cheaper than legitimate ones, which is to be expected.
Alastair Jeffrey, head of enforcement at the MHRA, told the Guardian: “Dental devices from China have been one of the most prolific areas we’ve been dealing with.” Often, counterfeiters are very good at copying packaging and logos but save money by using cheap, low-grade materials.
This leads to the devices being poorly made and potentially harmful. Among the items seized in 2014 were dental drills and root canal files that could easily break apart in a patient’s mouth, along with x-ray machines that gave off higher doses of radiation than would be expected.
However, despite the serious nature of this there is no need to panic. Edmund Proffitt from the British Dental Industry Association told the Guardian: “The last thing we want to do is be alarmist.” He added that the danger to patients was low.
The aim of the campaign is simply to raise awareness of this issue. Hopefully, this will prevent dentists from buying cheap dental equipment and encourage them to look into whether or not it is a forgery.