Running a dental lab: it’s all about communication

Running a dental lab: it's all about communication

Jake Penman discusses the not-so-secret sauce in building a strong client base and running a successful dental lab.

Be it within the lab flow, between lab partners or between the laboratory and the dentists, good communication is vital in modern dentistry. 

In this article, I am going to talk about the importance of communication between the lab and the dentist. I will explore just how vital this relationship is, firstly in building your client base but also in harnessing those strong, healthy partnerships. Trust me, it’s never been so important! 

The bedrock of prosperity

The importance of a good interrelationship between the dental lab and the dentist cannot be overstated. It is the bedrock on which successful dental restorations are built. As technicians, we are tasked to produce a large array of dental appliances such as crowns, bridges and dentures, all of which have their own very specific set of instructions that will need to be listed on the prescription. 

This is only the first line of communication though, as there are many other ways of communicating. 

Intraoral photos, for example, are now standard practice for private work and dentists are becoming professional photographers. They are now picking up surface textures, characterisation and the complexity of depth and shadowing that a tooth exhibits. 

Some go one step further with shade-taking software that blends photography and technology, giving the ceramist a recipe to follow when building up the restoration.

Two-way relationship

Communication goes both ways. It doesn’t end once the instructions have been given. There needs to be continued open communication channels between dentist and lab starting with checking the initial scan/impression. A lot of potential problems can be solved at this stage with a simple phone call or message. Then the case discussions can continue. 

Technicians have a world of knowledge to put on the table and quality dentists will utilise this with in-depth conversations right from the start. A Whatsapp group with the dentist, nurse and key members in the lab can be priceless and is always recommended. Ideas and information can be passed around directly and instantly this way. 

Building your client base

Good communication can also be used as a tool to build your client base. Multiple studies show that a strong one-to-one relationship with open communication channels and mutual trust is a key component when choosing the laboratory that dentists want to collaborate with. 

Social media can be a fantastic way to showcase the strengths of your laboratory and also provide a direct line of communication between lab and dentist. Dentists can enquire about services and share feedback with minimum effort. This increases accessibility and fosters strong relationships,which will drive business growth for both parties. Here, consistency is key in posting content. Try to keep to a posting schedule, eg at least once a day. This increases visibility and builds a strong reputation.

Collaborative environment

In conclusion, the importance of communication is the key to building a strong, successful client base. You must have multiple avenues of communication, not only to showcase your strengths, but to bring in any potential clients.

It’s imperative that the dentist has a direct line to the lab leader and key members of the team as it underpins the delivery of patient-centred care. This also ensures the precision and quality of the resulting restorations.

Your goal as a laboratory should always be to foster a collaborative environment that will enhance treatment outcomes, elevate patient satisfaction and prevent unnecessary problems arising. 

This article first appeared in Laboratory. To subscribe, join Dentistry CPD Pro.

Follow on Instagram to keep up with all the latest dental news and trends.

Get the most out of your membership by subscribing to Dentistry CPD
  • Access 600+ hours of verified CPD courses
  • Includes all GDC recommended topics
  • Powerful CPD tracking tools included
Register for webinar
Add to calendar