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Foreign Dental Work Put to Test, an investigative report about lead found in restorations made in China was the talk of the industry when it aired in February 2008 on Ohio’s WBNS 10TV. The story covered an Ohio woman who had experienced pain and infection in her jaw after her dentist placed an ill-fitting, three-unit PFM bridge the previous year. After learning the bridge was made in China, she had the bridge removed and tested for hazardous materials, and lead (160ppm) was found in the restoration.
In addition, the TV station ordered eight PFM crowns from four labs in China and also had them tested; one of them tested positive for lead (210ppm).
The media coverage fueled objections to offshore outsourcing and even breathed new life into the debate about mandatory laboratory certification and registration. The ADA announced it would do its own independent testing and released its findings a year later: scientists analyzed 44 different porcelain powders and 102 finished PFM crowns from both domestic and foreign laboratories; results ranged from below detectable to 113ppm in the powders and an average of 46ppm in the crowns. The conclusion: there are naturally occurring trace amounts of lead in porcelain, but no evidence of leaching into the mouth.
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