Concerns Arise over Lead in Dental Crowns

Capital Dental Designs is one of a handful of dental labs in Montgomery.
Capital Dental Designs is one of a handful of dental labs in Montgomery.

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -- Chinese imports don't have the best reputation. You've probably heard about dangerous lead found in Chinese-made toys. Now, an Ohio woman claims high levels of lead were found in her dental crown, which she says was made in China.

At one of several dental labs in Montgomery, owners insist their products are 100% made in America.

"We get all our materials from companies that are FDA approved," said Keith Pettus of Capital Dental Designs, which supplies crowns to more than a dozen Montgomery dentists.

There are other labs out there who buy crowns overseas because the prices are cheaper. But we all know, cheaper doesn't always mean better.

"In China, there are no standards or requirements, so that's the concern," Pettus said.

"You don't know how much of the crown is made here and how much is made overseas," said Montgomery Dentist Bruce Sansom.

Dr. Sansom says the Montgomery lab he uses makes crowns of American-made materials and provides paperwork to prove it. However, there are no laws that require labs to disclose that kind of information.

That's why the American Dental Association recommends that patients talk to their dentists or lab technicians and ask about the origin of any dental implant.

Dr. Sansom says there are obvious dangerous health effects associated with lead. But there is no research indicating the effects of lead in a dental crown.

"Does the led break down and get into your system? Or does it stay bound inside the crown? That's one thing the FDA and ADA really don't know," Sansom said.

Experts remind patients that the problem does not appear to be widespread. There's only been one lead crown discovered in the US. The ADA says 15-20 percent of dental implants are manufactured overseas.