For optimal patient care to occur, dental team members must rely on open and frequent communication.
This is especially true with the dentist and the dental laboratory technician. Communication with your dental lab, specifically, with the technician in charge of a particular case, is essential for both the success of that case and patient satisfaction.
Because many dental labs are located off site, rather than inside a dental office or clinic, it is easy to forget that the technicians are vital pieces to the dental team.
All you need to do is scribble out the lab slip or check the boxes on the computer prescription program then kick back and wait for the bridge, right?
Wrong. Communication with your dental lab via prescription orders is just one piece of an effective relationship.
In a 2018 Oral Health article, one lab technician suggested that dentists should make face-to-face visits to their local labs to better understand the technology and processes involved in fabrication of prosthesis. Further, he recommended that dentists and their lab technicians should attend the same continuing education courses to strengthen their professional relationships.
Areas to Improve Communication Between Dental Labs & Dentists
A study in the British Dental Journal identified three areas that dental technicians felt could improve quality of care and relationships with their dentist clients.
Not surprisingly, more effective communication topped the list. The other two themes identified were: Recognition of the technician’s place on the dental team, and improvement in understanding of the lab processes and techniques by new dental school graduates, as well as seasoned dentists.
So, how does better communication look? What makes communication between a dentist and a technician effective?
Interviews with several technicians reported in the same Oral Health article revealed some common themes designed to guide dentists in improving communications with their dental labs.
Those themes include:
- Include the technician in the initial stages of treatment planning, especially in complex implant and restorative cases.
- Use full arch impressions.
- Use firm bite registration materials.
- Send photos to assist with shade and shape choices. Don’t forget stump shades.
- Use technology to communicate with the technician such as Skype, video conferencing, Google Hangouts, etc.
- Be sure the prescription is legible (if handwritten) and detailed. Remember, this is a legal document that might be needed in court someday.
- Send post-op photos so the lab can see the results, whether good or bad. These help the lab to improve their services.
- Give the lab enough time to complete the case, otherwise quality suffers. Most labs are happy to accommodate rush jobs occasionally, but those cases should be rare.
- Use check lists to avoid overlooking crucial details.
- Visit in person with the lab to get to know the technicians, gain a better understanding of the process, and learn about the technology used to complete your cases.
Building a Strong, Productive Relationship with Technicians
Dental lab technicians are key members of the dental team.
They provide services that no other team members can duplicate. And, they are certified to meet industry standards while providing dentists with technologies that enhance patient outcomes.
Successful restorative and cosmetic cases depend on your ability to assess and diagnose your patient’s dental conditions. Likewise, the dental lab technician’s ability to translate design diagrams, photographs, and written prescriptions into a three-dimensional prosthesis using appropriate techniques and materials is just as essential to achieve the required case outcome.
If you’re just starting your dental practice, your lab can provide guidance and training in innovative technologies, such as digital restorative services, CAD/CAM systems, and digital impressions. If you’re already advanced in the digital world, a great lab relationship can further enhance patient care services with 3D printing technologies and digital support.
Open, frequent communication between your and your dental technicians is critical for successful patient care. Take time to set up a visit with your local lab, or to Skype with your technician. Our technicians at First Choice Dental Lab® would love to show you our facilities, and introduce you to the technology that makes your cosmetic and restorative cases succeed. Stay tuned for our next open house and continuing education event!
Also, make sure to check out our dental resources page HERE for everything from impression troubleshooting to step-by-step instructions on implant scanning!
If you’re ready to give your patients a reason to smile, we’re here to help. Contact us to today to get a fee schedule, or send us your scans
About First Choice Dental Lab®
We’re a full service dental lab with locations in Downers Grove & Downtown Chicago, IL. We manufacture & customize quality dental restorations for general dentists. From in-house work to outsourcing, we create smiles based on your needs and budget. We’re here to help you give your people a reason to smile!