Stay Away from the Gray Market


When used in the dental industry, the phrase “gray market” applies to branded dental supplies intended by the brand owner to be sold nationwide, but instead are diverted and resold by unauthorized distributors to another market. Unlike products on the black market, gray market goods are not illegal, but can have legal consequences.

According to manufacturer 3M ESPE, “Gray marketers typically don’t bother to invest in the supply chain part of our business. We have seen them ignore recommended handling procedures, send out product in plastic bags lacking important information instead of their original outer package and erase expiration dates. All this creates significant risk for dental professional customers.”

Here are some tips to avoid purchasing gray market dental supplies:

View the dealer’s website

Most dealer websites state who is authorized to sell their dental supplies. You can also contact the manufacturers directly to determine the authorized dealers. Take a look at the list of manufacturers SmartPractice is authorized to distribute.

Look for false brand labels

If you receive a product with a label that looks familiar but text written in Chinese or another foreign language, it’s a good chance you may be dealing with a gray market product that should not have been sold in the US. Grey market items are not FDA regulated and can be hazardous.

Beware of ultra-low pricing

The old saying “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is,”  definitely applies when buying dental supplies. Gray market distributors have the capability to offer dental supplies at a considerably lower price than authorized distributors, because they often counterfeit the formula or ingredients. The resulting dental supply product may have the same name – but it’s not the same formula.

Due to the continuing increase in gray market dental supplies, manufacturers are taking steps to make counterfeiting more difficult with new, more sophisticated packaging and different packaging and product names for overseas dental supplies.

Gray market dental supply distributors can dangerously compromise the quality and durability of a dentist’s work, and can even expose the practice to legal liability.

If a patient experiences adverse side effects as a result of using gray market dental supplies,  the dentist would likely face prosecution for failing to maintain the standards of practice of the profession, and disgraceful and dishonorable conduct.

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

As an authorized distributor of 3M ESPE, Carestream, Dentsply, GC America, Kerr 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. Pricing is set low and fair from the start so you can trust that the everyday low price you expect is the price you’ll get without needing to negotiate.

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