Who owns dental models?

Someone I know needed a whole bunch of crowns and went to a prosthodontist for an initial consult. He charged him $90 for the consult and also made plaster models for which he charged another $70. Later, he came back with his estimate for the required work, which was close to $40K. Facing those types of fees, the guy decided to have the work done overseas at about 40% lower cost.

So he called up the prosthodontist’s office and said he’s having it done overseas and could they please send him the models. They said they would look into it, but didn’t get back, so a couple of weeks later he called again and this time they said that since he wasn’t having the work done there, they had destroyed the models.

Question is did they have a legal right to do that, or does the guy have legal rights to those models, being the one who paid for them? (I have a feeling that they were within their legal rights, though it seems wrong to me.)

Secondary question is, assuming they had the legal right to do this, is there some sort of dental/medical ethics SOP which would require them to hang on to the models, especially as the guy had expressed a specific interest in getting them back (and even if he hadn’t, it was a few weeks from the consult - it’s not like they were languishing in the dentist’s office for years).

It sounds like they’re just being vindictive. Google failed me in terms of legalities, but I did find this interesting information:

**One Secret Your Local Dentist Doesn’t Want You to Know **

IANAL, and I could easily be wrong about this…

I suspect they’ll have an excuse in that, when you have work done by a dentist, you are contracting for a service, not buying a product - the impressions and models created during the process are just the tools and materials used by the dentist to perform the service.

$160 for an orthodontic consult, including a full-mouth plaster model, is pretty damn cheap. My dentist charges twice that for a routine cleaning.

dentist here. Of course all things vary by state but in Texas models are part of the record and must be maintained. They are property of the dentist but the patient has the right to a copy and can be charged for the duplication.

As far as Jasmine link on things your dentist doesn’t want you to know is a bit slanted. Says a crown costing $50 may cost the patient $1000 giving the dentist a profit of $950. Not even close, there is a lot of overhead not just the lab fee. Supplies, rent, assistant pay etc. FWIIW every dentist I know either uses a local lab national lab.

I have my models. I asked for them when I moved, and they handed them right over.

I was in art school in the late 90s, and was working on a project for which I needed some molds of teeth. I cold called a few local dentists, asked if the had any to spare, and ended up with a whole bag full of them for free.