Weekly Feature

2017-07-13 / Editorial

Legislator sponsors dental safety law


Erie County Legislature Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo announced his sponsorship of a newly proposed, local, dental care safety law at Evolution Dental in Cheektowaga on Tuesday.

At the press conference, Lorigo delivered his address accompanied by four local dental care professionals, who unanimously endorsed the proposed law.

In his proposal, Lorigo demands that patients know the country of origin before having a dental device implanted. Responding to the use of substandard materials — like lead — in some dental devices made abroad, Lorigo hopes that his legislation will prevent ensuing health safety risks.

“[The law] is about protecting people, really,” Lorigo said. “It’s about making sure that people know what is being put in their mouths.”

Having served in the Erie County Legislature since 2012, Lorigo has held the position of majority leader for four years. Upon learning that dental laboratories had no disclosure requirements, Lorigo — who said he was shocked” by the information — felt compelled to draft his law.

As a legislator, Lorigo has also co-sponsored a law requiring that anyone involved youth sports hold certification on concussion protocol. He identifies a common theme in his work of “looking out for and protecting Erie County residents and taxpayers.”

Lorigo spent between the past three and four months crafting his proposed dental law.

“I think this is something where we’ll be able to get bipartisan, if not unanimous, support,” he said, explaining the “common sense” notion of a bill that protects people.

Dr. Ronald Jarvis, practicing prosthodontist and owner of Ronald H. Jarvis, DDS, joined Lorigo in his announcement and expressed his support of the proposed law.

“[The law] helps the patient, basicall y,” Jarvis said. “It is absolutely a patient protection issue.”

Jarvis — who has worked in dental care since 1972 — has noticed past appliances constructed with materials that ultimately proved unhealthy for patients. With legislation like what Lorigo has proposed, the dental community will advance in the fight against problematic materials, according to Jarvis.

Joe Procopio, president of Pro-esthetics Dental Lab, also appreciates the proposed law. Having led the lab for 14 years, Procopio describes himself as a “big proponent” of Lorigo’s proposal, and he would like to see similar measures in the future.

“Pro-esthetics has always used products that are made in the USA,” Procopio said. “[This law] will have a big impact on the patients’ well-being.”

During the press conference, Lorigo said he officially submitted his law at the County Legislature on Monday. In his proposal, Lorigo calls for disclosure through the entire life cycle of dental materials: from manufacturers to dentists to patients.

Characterizing his law as a “concern of public safety,” Lorigo mentioned the federal regulations imposed on clothing and demanded the same “for products being placed in mouths.” While he recognizes the complexity of the issues, Lorigo hopes to start a groundswell that culminates in federal legislation.

The dental care professionals who joined Lorigo for his announcement affirmed their commitment to the law. Stating his belief that patients have the right to disclosure, Evolution Dental CEO Andy Jakson described Lorigo’s proposal as long overdue.

Explaining the driving force behind his support of the law, Jakson referenced concern over unsafe business practices by labs and uninformed dentists. With an increase in offshore manufacturing processes, Jakson’s concern grew.

“Substandard products should not be entering our health community,” Jakson said.

To counteract the use of substandard dental materials, professionals have done corrective work on patients “thousands of times,” according to Jakson. Reiterating that “the chemistry [of products from abroad] is not the chemistry we use,” Jakson equated inferior chemistry with inferior products.

Indeed, with high levels of lead — for example — the longevity of restorative and corrective work decreases, Jakson said.

Procopio emphasized that the proposed law prioritizes serving patients over competing with other markets.

Now officially submitted, Lorigo’s law will progress to discussion in the Health and Human Services Committee, followed by public hearings.

“I would anticipate [the law] being passed sometime this fall,” Lorigo said.

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