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Radio

Radio discussion dentists & fake equipment

27th April 2016

I was invited onto Radio 5’s Breakfast Show, yesterday. We had a discussion about the dangers of a dentist using fake dental equipment.


The first thing to say, is that any fake equipment is a danger to both the patient and the dental team. However, only 700 pieces have been identified and seized in the last four years. Given the volume of drills and hand pieces in use by our profession every day, this is far from an epidemic. I haven’t come across the issue, first hand. But I have seen the warnings issued to dentists by the British Dental Foundation.

So well done to our equipment ‘watchdog’, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). they have not only identified this non-compliance, but brought the first successful prosecution of a ‘rogue trader’.

Why is this so important?

The cheap devices sold on the internet, break and shatter while in the mouth. This will cause horrific injuries to the patient’s teeth and gums.

Counterfeit Hand Piece

Counterfeit Hand Piece

So how do dentists know whether their equipment is real or fake? It’s actually very simple. We only buy our equipment from bona fide UK/EU dental suppliers. That way we can all be confident that the equipment we use to treat our patients is fit for purpose. Most importantly, it complies with UK/EU regulations and safety standards. You can spot fake medical equipment in several ways.

  • dental instruments have no recognised brand name
  • packaging has missing information
  • the product has no ‘instructions for use’ leaflet enclosed
  • no lot or batch identification number is listed
  • the CE mark is missing
  • European manufacturer or representative details are not listed
  • the product has no four digit unique identification number

Fake equipment

The fake equipment has been purchased from auction websites by UK dentists. There is no evidence to suggest that buying equipment from auction websites is a widespread or deliberate practice among dentists. However, the MHRA says it is concerned about the range of dental equipment that is advertised to dentists. Products at cheap prices, are online and at dental trade fairs in China.

This is dangerous to dental professionals and patients. The General Dental Council won’t look kindly on dental professionals who knowingly use counterfeit products. Consequently, they won’t support dentists in cases if they knowingly use them.

The MHRA says it is working closely with eBay to crack down on sellers offering counterfeit goods. In addition, if evidence of criminal activity is found, it will prosecute suppliers .

Consequently, the best option is always to buy from reputable suppliers. It may cost a little more at the time but is a much better long-term investment. So, look out for any counterfeit products and equipment. You can report any activity by visiting http://www.bdia.org.uk/device-reporting/.

In conclusion, we all know the old adage – if any deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is!!

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