Advancing your Dental Practice into the Digital Age with a Dental Lab

Many dentists still debate what it actually means to be a “digital dental lab” in the current climate. While some argue that 3D printers and intraoral monitors are available everywhere, thus making the dentistry practice itself “digital,” about 63% of dentistry practices don’t have a scanner and milling system, and about half of dentist offices don’t have in-house digital equipment. In light of this, it’s important for dental practices that aren’t able to do in-house lab work to build strong relationships with their labs.

Dental laboratories are growing.

The market for dental laboratories are projected to grow alongside the field of dental healthcare, with clients having a growing interest in laser dentistry and prosthetics. A dentist office looking for a dental lab shouldn’t have trouble finding one, but should take care to build a quality relationship with their lab in order to avoid the dental lab’s dreaded aclinical challenges.

CAD/CAM is increasingly popular.

Nearly 80% of dental labs report that their clients are looking for milled restorations, with CAD/CAM increasing in popularity by 14% a decade ago. However, CAD equipment is pricey, with some instruments costing as much as $250,000. Dental offices should ensure that their dental lab has the in-demand technology and equipment available and that, in addition to providing restorative dental lab services, they are a cosmetic dental lab as well.

Look for a “lab with heart.”

As the number of dental labs increases, it may be tempting to build a relationship with a large, sleek lab, or by outsourcing your services to an international company. Experts suggest that a dentist office looking for a dental lab choose one that is smaller with “heart,” or one in which lab techs take pride in their craftsmanship and can communicate regularly with your office’s staff. As with all good business relationships, the relationship must be based on mutual trust.

It may be tempting to go with the digital lab with the biggest name or which claims to have the most access to technology. While your lab should be aware of the newest practices in the industry, the best lab will be a perfect match with the services you offer to your patients. Your dental lab should also have a high degree of professionalism, love for their craft, and a desire to provide high quality care, digital or not.

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