CHICAGO — A new policy from the American Dental Association (ADA) “strongly discourages the practice of direct to the consumer (DTC) dental laboratory services because of the potential for irreversible harm to patients.” The new policy expands upon a 2017 ADA policy entitled “Do-It-Yourself Teeth Straightening” to include the sale of partial dentures, teeth whitening trays, snoring appliances, veneers and mouth guards, in addition to DTC orthodontic services.
The traditional role of a dental laboratory is to manufacture prosthetics and devices at the direction of the dentist. The dentist writes a prescription to the laboratory customized to the specific clinical needs of the patient citing the materials to be used and any special design features requested.
Recently, however, some laboratories have offered to sell such products directly to consumers. Bypassing the involvement and oversight of the dentist eliminates the dentist’s essential role in diagnosing oral health conditions, creating treatment plans to meet those needs, and safely managing treatment needs through the course of dental care. Self-delivered, unsupervised dental treatment, in the view of the ADA, creates the risk of damage and irreversible harm to patients.