Maintaining the integrity and quality of dental supplies is a priority that affects everyone in dentistry – from the manufacturers, right down to the patients. The gray market makes this priority harder to keep. With the rise of internet shopping, international trade, bargain hunting, and other factors, gray market dental supplies are becoming more prevalent. And who’s liable? The dental professionals who buy and use those products.

Although low prices are enticing, should any of these products malfunction or cause harm to your patients, it could cost your practice in more ways than one.

  • Gray market products rarely qualify for promotions such as BOGO’s or rebates.
  • Manufacturers often don’t guarantee products purchased from gray market suppliers.
  • There’s really no way to tell where a gray market product originated from. Some aren’t even registered with the FDA for sale in the United States.
  • If a recall were to occur, how would the manufacturer be able to notify you when there’s no clear chain of custody?

How can you spot gray market products?

  1. Deep Discounts. Often, manufacturers will offer promotions on their products, which authorized distributors can then promote. However, if you see products offered at a deep discount of say, 40%, that should be a red flag.
  2. Abnormal Packaging. If the packaging looks a little off, this should also set off alarm bells. The print on the packaging should be clear and easy to read, not smudged or blurry. And the product name should always match the labels on the packaging and inserts.
  3. Expiration Dates. To be safe, always check the expiration dates when you receive a new order of dental supplies. If anything is expired, you should call the manufacturer to see if your supplier is an authorized distributor.
  4. Lack of Valid Warranty. Manufacturers often don’t guarantee product purchased from gray market suppliers. This means the buyer is solely liable if products fail to perform and result in patient claims.
  5. Inconsistent Supply. If the supplier you purchase from is regularly out-of-stock on many of their products, that could be a sign they’re a gray market merchant.

Don’t fall prey to gray – buy from an authorized distributor.

When you purchase through an authorized distributor like SmartPractice, you can be sure that your dental supplies are of the highest quality the distributor intended, and that we follow all the rules regarding proper storage, handling and shipping.

As an authorized distributor of 3M, Dentsply, GC America, Kerr, Ivoclar and more – you’ll save big on dental supplies without sacrificing quality. Give yourself peace of mind knowing you’ll still save 5 -15% vs. “the big guys’” prices every day with SmartPractice. You can trust that the everyday low price you expect is the price you’ll get without needing to negotiate.

When you purchase products from SmartPractice that qualify for rebates or free goods, we manage all the paperwork for you. From your very first order, you’re automatically enrolled in our Free Goods Management Program. There’s nothing more you need to do to reap the benefits!

Is everyone on your staff trained to be on the lookout for gray market dental supplies? What do you do if you receive them in an order? Tell us how you handle it in the comments.