Another thing that patients need to avoid is “recycling” of orthodontic materials from someone else’s mouth to your mouth.
I know when I say this, most patients cannot believe it. An orthodontist taking orthodontic materials out of one patients mouth and putting them in your mouth. However, amazingly, this has become a fairly common practice. The orthodontist saves about $20/patient by doing this and many orthodontists like the extra income.
Legally, the orthodontist is supposed to get your consent before he takes materials from another patient and puts the materials in your mouth. However, many orthodontists are sneaky about it. The orthodontist may ask you to sign an initial release which mentions that the orthodontist recycles. However, he is not talking about recycling paper. Rather he is talking about taking dental materials out of another patients mouth and putting them in you mouth.
As part of the new guidelines adopted by the FDA on Aug 14, 1998, in the Code of federal regulations 21 CFR §801 and §809.10 (b) items can be taken out of one persons mouth and put in another patients mouth only if there is an FDA approved sterilization procedure for reuse of each device.
Most dental tools have approved sterilization procedures for reuse of each device. However, brackets, bands, wires, facebows do not have approved sterilization procedures for reuse. As a result, the FDA regulations do not allow these items to be taken out of one patients mouth and put into another patients mouth.
Again the trick is to ask the orthodontist. Orthodontists are usually honest enough to admit that they take things out of other peoples mouths and put them in your mouth. Some orthodontists even believe that it is safe (and just not FDA approved).
If your orthodontist says that he does reuse materials, insist that you only have fresh materials in your mouth. If he says that it is more expensive, point out that you know that fresh materials will only cost him a total of $20 more. (Not $20/visit, $20 total). Check particularly about bands and brackets because they are often reused.
My view is that I would never take my child to an orthodontist who takes materials out of one person’s mouth and places them in my childs mouth. However, some insurance companies will not pay for fresh materials, so the orthodontist may be forced to put old previously used dental materials in your mouth. If you do not have a choice, my advice is to offer to pay the difference. It should be at most $20 and you will be sure that you have fresh materials in your mouth.