Whose team is your lab on?

Let’s talk about team building, but this time let’s focus on your out-of-office team instead of your in-office team.

Let’s talk about team building, but this time let’s focus on your out-of-office team instead of your in-office team. Who makes up the out-of-office team? As dentists, we regularly interface with other professionals outside our office in our efforts to provide optimal dental care. In our office, we regularly converse with dental specialists in our area, as well as personnel in both local and national laboratories.

We work hard to develop good relationships with all of these people, and I regularly seek their advice on both simple and complex cases. I will sometimes call a dental specialist to discuss a case, even though I may not be planning to refer the patient. Good dental specialists know the more they help you, the more you will recognize cases that do need to be referred to them. I consider these specialists as valued additions to our team and to our patients’ dental health.

This is even more true in the case of dental laboratories. Most dentists do not use their laboratories to their full capabilities. Dental lab technicians in this country have a wealth of information that can help dental practices. If I have a complex case, I will discuss it with the lab technician. This makes the entire case go smoother.

Some dentists are almost insulted when a technician from the dental lab calls with a question. Believe me, they are doing you a favor! I welcome and encourage laboratory technicians to call me if they have any questions about a case. This will make the entire case easier at the seating appointment. I will know what to expect if the dental laboratory has told me the case will take a little extra time to seat or a little extra occlusal adjustment is needed.

In cases where you want to try something new or are just starting to use a certain technique, I recommend sending the case to the lab ahead of time. Ask the lab to do a diagnostic wax-up or to take a look at it so the technician can tell you if what you’re thinking of doing is appropriate for the case. There are so many laboratory choices it’s impossible for a dentist to know all the applications of the various lab products.

For example, I remember doing Valplast® metal-less dentures years ago. I did a few cases and had some success. I recently wanted to try a combination Captek crown and Valplast case. While I had the patient in the chair - and before I even wrote out the lab slip - I called Trident Dental Laboratory and spoke with a very knowledgeable technician who really helped me with the case. The patient was difficult and I didn’t need any further aggravation or surprises. The Trident lab tech was incredibly helpful and walked me through the best way to treat the case. The patient and I were very pleased with the final result.

If you are trying a new technique such as no-prep veneers, I strongly encourage you to send the models to Cerinate® Design Studio ahead of time so their lab techs can help you plan a Lumineer case. I’ve been doing no-prep Lumineers for 25 years, and I still send cases in for diagnostic wax-ups ahead of time. This lets me know what is possible and it allows me to show the model to the patient, which certainly helps him or her accept bigger treatment plans. The Cerinate Design Studio also red-lines the pre-op model to show where a minor enameloplasty may have to be done. This allows for the best results with Lumineers.

We have an excellent relationship with our local laboratory here in Cleveland, B & B Dental Laboratory. B & B is named for Bill and Billie Sholomon, the husband and wife team who runs it. They are there for us no matter what we need.

Trident Dental Labs, Cerinate Design Studios, and B & B Dental Laboratory are trusted members of our dental team. It takes great communication and planning to build that kind of teamwork, and it is worth every second! Your out-of-office team is an equally important part of your practice, helping you provide faster, easier, and better dentistry for your patients.

Dr. Louis Malcmacher is an international lecturer and author known for his comprehensive and entertaining style. An evaluator for Clinical Research Associates, Dr. Malcmacher is a consultant to the Council on Dental Practice of the ADA. For close to two decades, Dr. Malcmacher has inspired his audiences to truly enjoy practicing dentistry by providing the knowledge necessary for excellent clinical and practice-management skills. His group dental practice has maintained a 45 percent overhead since 1988. For details about his speaking schedule, Dr. Malcmacher can be reached at (440) 892-1810, or via e-mail at dryowza@iname.com.

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