Dental lab bill nears finish lineA bill to require dental laboratories to register with the state is nearing approval after years of work by many, including a Red Wing resident and local lawmakers.
By: Danielle Killey, The Republican Eagle
A bill to require dental laboratories to register with the state is nearing approval after years of work by many, including a Red Wing resident and local lawmakers.
The proposal would require labs in Minnesota that make crowns, bridges, dentures or other dental pieces to register with the state. They also would have to disclose the materials involved and where the products were made, in whole or part, to dentists.
Currently, when a dentist hires a dental lab to produce these products, the lab can outsource the work to other states or countries, said Gary Iocco of Red Wing, the president of Dimension Dental Design in Hastings, who has been working on the legislation. The materials used are not always documented or the information shared.
Iocco and one of the bill’s sponsors Rep. Tim Kelly said the registration proposal addresses safety, health and transparency issues.
For example, a case arose a few years ago where a bridge made in China later was found to have a high lead content, Iocco said.
“These are things that go into our bodies,” Kelly said.
If there ever were a recall of products, the information required in this bill also would help protect dentists, Iocco added.
The bill includes an optional level of certification with higher standards. That includes additional training for staff — eight hours of continuing education every two years for technicians — stricter facility standards and more.
The bill passed easily in the House this week. Members of the House and Senate, where John Howe of Red Wing is carrying the bill, will meet Tuesday to merge two different versions.
Kelly said he doesn’t anticipate major problems. But Iocco said changes could come during discussions, including the potential removal of the optional certification.
Iocco said he hopes the current bill will be the one approved.
“All parties involved have worked very hard and agreed on that,” he said.
Work started on a dental lab registration proposal about four years ago, said Iocco, who also serves on the Midwest Dental Laboratory Association Board.
A version of the bill made it through part of the process last year but ran out of time.
There are only a handful of states that currently require dental laboratories to disclose if they outsource work to foreign labs, but there has been a push to change that, said Bennett Napier, Executive Director of the National Association of Dental Laboratories.
“There’s quite a momentum to change that to make sure there’s transparency,” he said.
The pending Minnesota legislation is one of the strongest, he said. A number of other states are working on similar laws.
Minnesota’s legislation requires the laboratories to register with the state, which is an important aspect, he said.
“If the lab doesn’t have to register, then we don’t have any way to hold the business accountable,” he said.
Estimates show there are between 300 and 400 dental labs in Minnesota, Iocco said.
Kelly said he was glad to support the legislation.
“There are very few times when associations are coming to us asking to be registered,” Kelly said. “It’s a good example of an association doing some self-policing.”