Where in the World…

Gray Market Goods: Bad For Business

Are your dental supplies putting your patients at risk?

It’s hard to pass up a good bargain when you see it. However, there is more than meets the eye when it comes to dental products offered at deeply discounted pricing. These goods may actually be “gray market” goods — those intended for international sale, but which are rerouted back to distributors in the US and made available to dentists at very low prices. They can seem like a good deal, but there are risks associated with the gray market:

  • Products are often sold “as is” with no returns or warranties
  • Safety recalls are often not communicated to the end-user
  • Products may be counterfeit or altered to fit foreign specifications
  • Products might be expired or stored in improper conditions
  • Legal liability is held solely with the purchaser, not the manufacturer

Each of these conditions puts both the dentist and the patient at risk, so it’s important to know where your dental products are coming from. There are four distinct red flags for identifying a gray market product: 


If a product is selling at a significantly lower price that seems too good to be true, it probably is. Low price is the most obvious red flag of gray market goods.


There are many reputable dental distributors out there that only carry products they are authorized to sell. However, a number of internet-based dental dealers have recently emerged in the industry. Some are unauthorized dealers that will redirect goods intended for foreign sale back to the US, and then re-sell them on their website. If ordering from a web-only supplier, pay special attention to the product prices. If you find they are substantially lower than other distributors’ pricing, you may have encountered a gray market site.


Because gray market products are intended for a market outside the United States, they are manufactured with different specifications and usually with different labels. If you check your stock and see a product that doesn’t look quite right, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is the language on the package something other than English?
  • Is the packaging smeared, uneven, or of lesser quality than you have previously seen with products of the same brand?
  • Is the product name current or a previous name from an earlier version of the product?
  • Is the bar code or any aspect of the product description blocked out?
  • Is the product marked “For export only” or “Not registered for sale in the United States?”


Has the product expired? Does it appear that the expiration date has been changed? If you notice a package that meets any of these criteria, don’t hesitate to reach out to the manufacturer of that brand or product. When it comes down to it, although discounted dental products are available, the cost of overcoming the potential problems for patients caused by gray market products can be far greater than the amount saved.

At PureLife, providing quality products to our customers is our top priority, which is why we offer money-back guarantees on all purchases. Also, we only purchase products from authorized manufacturers. We couldn’t live up to these promises with gray market products, so we simply don’t buy them!

PureLife is proud to be an authorized distributor of these great brands

PureLife is proud to be an authorized distributor of these great brands