Dental restorations
Dental restorations
Pat Salber, MD, MBA, Host of The Doctor Weighs In
Pat Salber, MD, MBA, Host of The Doctor Weighs In

Only four states in the U.S. require either certification or continuing education for those who create dental restorations. Dental laboratories in more than 40 states in the U.S. remain unregulated.


I don’t usually write about dental stuff – the last time was in 2011!– but perhaps I should. The mouth, after all, is a part of the body even through we send it to completely different doctors and cover it with a completely different type of insurance.

That being said, this press release from the National Association of Dental Laboratories has some very interesting information about dental restorations that you might want to know before you get that tooth repaired – including the fact that the dental restoration industry is largely unregulated. By the way, even your dentist may not fully understand the qualifications and quality of the lab that s/he uses to make your new teeth.  

Here is what the NADL says:

“Poorly-made dental restorations – whether produced in America or abroad – can lead to a range of health consequences for patients. To ensure better outcomes for safe dental restorations, it is extremely important that dentists and patients have a full understanding of where their dental restorations are coming from and what materials are used in the process.

Some patients believe their restorations are made in the dental office. Others do not even think twice about where their restorations are coming from. Most dentists do not make their own restorations, but work with laboratories and technicians, either in the U.S. or abroad.

Most state dental-practice rules do not regulate or set standards for the operation of dental laboratories or dental technicians [Wow, I didn’t know this. The question is why not?”]. Lack of regulation can increase health-related issues for patients and decrease the level of professional standards within dentistry.”

The Facts from the NADL About Dental Restorations 

  • Only four states in the U.S. require either certification or continuing education for those who create dental restorations.
  • Dental laboratories in more than 40 states in the U.S. remain unregulated.
  • Almost 25 percent of domestic dental laboratory sales and 38 percent of actual restorations are manufactured overseas.
  • There are 42 countries that currently have foreign dental laboratories registered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These laboratories may not be held to the same scrutiny level as U.S. laboratories.


What’s in Your Mouth Program

Dental restorations
Dental restorations

“The National Association of Dental Laboratories (NADL) hopes to create patient and dentist awareness of these facts through its “What’s in Your Mouth?” program, which encourages patients to make informed decisions about their dental needs starting with the following four questions:

1. What is a Certified Dental Technician?

The Certified Dental Technician (CDT) designation demonstrates a significant mastery of the knowledge and applied skills needed in dental technology. The National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology (NBC) certifies all CDTs. Individuals undergo a series of evaluations and tests before earning certification. Once a CDT passes all tests, he or she must complete 12 hours of continuing education every year to hone his or her skills and to retain certification status.

2. What is a Certified Dental Laboratory?

Certified Dental Laboratories (CDLs) meet specific standards relating to quality assurance, safety and business and manufacturing practices. The NBC certifies all CDLs. By earning and maintaining the CDL designation, a dental laboratory is monitoring and attempting to improve the quality and efficiency of their services and facilities.

3. Can patients go directly to a CDT or a CDL for restorations?

According to most state laws, a laboratory only can accept prescriptions from a licensed dentist; however, a patient can find a CDT or CDL in his or her area and request the contact information of a dentist who works with that laboratory.

Locate a Certified Dentist Technician (CDT) in your area here. (Click on the CDT logo under “Show”)

Locate a Certified Dentist Laboratory (CDL) in your state here.

4. How should patients make sure their dentists use a CDT and CDL?

Patients should ask their dentists where their restorations are being made and ask if the laboratories used are CDLs or if they employ CDTs. Patients should have access to their personal dental records that outline the patient contact materials that are used in their restorations and also in what country such finished restorations are manufactured.”

For more information, visit the NADL website’s Public Awareness link at


About NADL:

The National Association of Dental Laboratories is the unified voice of the dental laboratory profession supporting dentistry and serving the public interest by promoting high standards. NADL accomplishes this by providing programs, services and networking opportunities to meet the evolving technical, educational, professional and business needs of dental laboratories.




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