labThe simple fact for those of us that are restorative dentists is that our lab is a critical part of our practice and the results we can achieve. This is due to the simple fact that no matter how good of a job we do, if our lab drops the ball, the end result will suffer. On the flip side if we do not give our labs what they need no matter how hard they try, they cannot deliver a great result. In this article, I will go over some tips that may help improve your current relationship with your lab or get a relationship with a new lab off on the right foot.

The Relationship with Your Lab

Perhaps the most important thing to me to is an open relationship with my lab. This starts with making sure your lab knows what you expect. This alone is not enough as we first have to make sure we deliver what our lab needs to deliver the results we expect. Making sure both sides meet these goals requires crystal clear communication. I can't stress this enough: The fact that both sides need to make sure this communication is really taking place and that a clear message sent is a clear message received. It is WAY too easy to think we said/communicated something when, in fact, something else completely different was heard.

The next big thing is that once you and your lab are clear on what each of you need and expect from each other, you each hold the other to agreed upon standards. While it's easy to say we should do this by nature, dentists and technicians tend to be timid and non-confrontational-so actually doing this can be hard as neither side wants to upset the other. The key here is that both sides agree from the start on how this will be done, and that when something needs to be said it will be done in a respectful, professional manner.

So how does this communication and feedback get done effectively and accurately? In my opinion, in a perfect world it takes place face-to-face, in person. That being said I totally get that your lab may not be local, and meeting in person may not be practical. For many of us, this is the case.

The good news is that with today's technology, we have a lot of great ways around this, such as video conferencing and photographs, when it is not possible to actually meet physically in person. When it comes to your lab prescriptions, I often find it helpful to include some notes rather than just checking off boxes to make sure I am clear about my instructions. Lastly, in many cases I wil request a phone call and/or meeting to discuss the case to make sure both the lab and I are on the same page with everything.

John R. Carson, DDS, PC, Spear Visiting Faculty and Contributing Author