The General Dental Council is concerned that there is dental equipment available in the UK that is not compliant, because it is counterfeit.
At one hearing in 2017, a dental professional admitted to attempting to buy counterfeit dental equipment online. This equipment was seized following two inspections by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The MHRA has expressed its own worries about an increasing number of websites and online sellers offering non-compliant or counterfeit medical equipment.
The risk is that these devices may be unfit for purpose, and could be potentially dangerous both for patients and for the staff using them.
The emphasis should always be on obtaining dental equipment from a reliable, trusted source. This is something that The British Dental Industry Association (BDIA) stresses. It is currently involved in an initiative to identify and expose fake and illegal dental instruments through its Counterfeit and Substandard Instruments and Devices Initiative.
Equipment Fit for Purpose
Many modern dental practices offer premium as well as essential dental treatments. Offering things such as cosmetic dentistry means ensuring that customers, and patients, are fully confident that they will receive the very best treatment.
This means using state-of-the-art dental equipment and devices, including dental chairs. Whereas dental professionals might see cheap offers of equipment, they must be cautious about what this might entail.
The best dental work requires skilled, dedicated professional staff, but also the kind of reliable, compliant tools for them to perform to the best of their capabilities.
Consequently, the BDIA recommends that all dental purchases, large or small, are made from reputable suppliers.
What to Look For
While counterfeiters can be sophisticated in how they forge packaging and documentation, and other identifying marks such as barcodes and holographic labels, the risk is that it is only when a product is used that its deficiencies become apparent.
Worse case scenarios might then involve devices failing, or breaking, inside patients’ mouths.
Therefore, dentists must look for other warning signs before reaching this stage.
- Price – is the price significantly cheaper and out of line with normal prices?
- Dealer – where did you buy the product, and how well do you know the supplier?
- Comparison – can you compare it with a similar product that is definitely genuine?
- Weight and finish – counterfeit products are often made of lighter, cheaper materials and do not have as good a finish.
- Design and branding – does the logo and product name look correct, and is the colour and design right?
- Plug and paperwork – is the equipment fitted with a UK power plug to make it compliant, and does the paperwork contain a huge number of languages, possibly excluding English?
The BDIA and MHRA note that dentists return increasing numbers of faulty products to manufacturers only to find that they turn out to be copies.
Know Your Product
Ultimately the best defense against counterfeit dental equipment, and ensuring that it is compliant is to invest in high standards of dental devices from recommended suppliers with a solid, professional reputation.
Furthermore, sourcing dental equipment from a good supplier will provide an assured level of product support, including maintenance and the ready availability of replacement parts.