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JAN 27/2015

How dentists can safeguard against counterfeit tools

There are many concerns about maintaining the quality of dental practices in England, as well as boosting the number of patients that have access to oral health services. However, a new campaign has highlighted the danger of counterfeit tools in dental practices, and the level of patient care that could be at risk.

Due to launch next month, the campaign spearheaded by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) along with industry representatives aims to encourage dentists to check their equipment is legitimate.

There has been a rise in the number of counterfeit drills, x-ray machines and other dental equipment, which resulted in the seizure of more than 12,000 poor-quality dental products just in 2014.

To avoid this, and putting patients at risk, the campaign is urging dental professionals to ensure their equipment is coming from trusted suppliers. It is thought that most of the fake materials are coming from China and Pakistan and are being sold through popular online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay.

In times where many dental practices are struggling for funds, these merchants offer equipment at the fraction of the cost of legitimate tools. However, it's a saving that is not worth the cost.

Speaking to the Guardian, Alastair Jeffrey, head of enforcement at the MHRA, said dental devices coming from China have been "one of the most prolific areas we’ve been dealing with".

He said: “We’ve had dental drills come apart in a patient’s mouth and x-ray machines that produce a much higher level of radiation than they should.”

The news provider reports that, during the last seizure, the MHRA took more than 3,240 poor-quality root canal files, which could potentially break in a patient's mouth. In addition, they took 384 dental drills and 24 dental x-ray machines that produced too much radiation, as well as 683 lights for curing composite fillings, 14 air syringes and 37 dental air turbines.

“We are seeing an increase in counterfeit dental equipment. Devices are going to be a growth area for us,” Mr Jeffrey added.

Dentists are being warned to be vigilant in where they buy their equipment from as the fakes can look almost identical to legitimate tools but won't deliver the same standard to either the dental professional or the patient concerned.

It is hoped that raising awareness of counterfeit products in the industry will encourage people to scrutinise the equipment they use, and share this advice with other professionals in the industry. The campaign hopes that this will reduce the number of fakes being sold online, and force the merchants out of business.

Leading online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay are working with the MHRA to clamp down on counterfeit imports to the UK.

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