It may seem like something that shouldn’t happen, but it is: some dentists are buying materials never approved or intended for use in the US and using them to provide cheaper services to their patients. Although authorized dealers are trying to fight the suppliers, it’s important for dentists and even patients to understand this issue so they can make the right decisions about their own dental care.
Remember: never pick a dentist on the basis of cost alone, because you never know where the savings are coming from.
What Are Gray Market Materials?
In describing the legality of a product, white market materials are legal, black market materials are illegal, and gray market materials are those that we don’t know whether they are legal or illegal. A supplier may purchase products from a source unknown to the eventual purchaser and offer to resell them for below the cost that authorized suppliers charge for them. In many cases, the product is intended for use in a foreign market where costs are lower.
The problem is that these products may not meet US health and safety standards. Even if the product has the same name and item number, it may be customized for each market, which means that these products would technically be illegal for sale in the US.
And many times suppliers get their best bargains by acquiring products that are supposed to be destroyed as part of a recall–often because they are defective. Obviously, these products do pose a potential risk for patients who receive them.
Bargain Dentistry May Not Be a Good Deal after All
What does this mean for you as a dental patient? It means that you should be wary of dentists who are offering significantly better prices than other dentists. Although there are some exceptions, in general the margins in dentistry are pretty narrow, and there’s not a lot of space to cut costs, so a dentist who is able to offer significantly better prices than others should be viewed with suspicion because they are cutting costs somewhere, which might be in the quality of their materials.
At Strober Dental, we are committed to giving our patients the finest dentistry results using only the best dental materials available. To learn more about getting quality dentistry in San Diego, please call 619-299-5925 for an appointment at Strober Dental.