Visit Your Dental Lab

Recently I went and spent time at the lab of my dental lab technician. I had heard that this was a good thing to do, but the value I got was far more than I expected when I scheduled the visit.

One of my labs is out of state and one is close by. I don’t frequently visit my labs, even the one that is close by, as I find many reasons not to go. However, whenever I have visited the local lab, I experienced them differently than when speaking with them over the phone. Early this year I set aside some time to visit my local lab.

Chairside Challenges With Patients

We have challenges chairside with our patients… It could be the size of their tongue, how they open, the frequency of how little they open, and just like us, our labs run into problems. Oftentimes, they don’t have the whole picture. The patient isn’t sitting in front of them. They only have an impression, a scan, or a model. So, I went around to each person in the lab and asked them what they are looking for when working with a dentist, their concerns, and the roadblocks they come up against. How easy is it for them to pick up the phone and call us about some of the challenges they are experiencing while working with a case?

The visit accomplished a few things. One, we established a more open relationship. This means I’m going to call them as frequently as I need, and they are going to call me as frequently as they need. Two, we reviewed the case and they assisted me with my wax-up. We had an open and honest conversation in which they helped me understand how I can improve my work. We also got to know each other. This is important to me because I strive to have a relationship based practice. I want to be able to speak honestly with my patients and lab, to laugh, and to celebrate the things that are going well.

Conversations With Your Lab Technician

What you do chairside with your patient can be enhanced by conversations with your lab technician. I know that sounds obvious, but what I heard from my lab is that dentists are so busy, they don’t pick up the phone and reach out. And when the lab calls dentists about the challenges of a case, these busy clinicians frequently don’t want to be interrupted by the call. Typically, they don’t want to redo something.

The reality is that we are not perfect, and it is challenging for the lab to make decisions when they don’t have all the information. In my relationship-based practice, it is important for me to freely exchange feedback with my lab. We get feedback forms from labs so we can tell them how well they did. I want feedback from my lab, so I can learn how to improve what I do and understand the challenges they had. I’ve never had a lab willing to give me written feedback, but by developing relationships with the employees of my lab, I have learned some things that improved what I do. And it has made phone conversations with them easier to do.

Regular Laboratory Visits

When was the last time you stepped into the laboratory you use? Have you ever asked them how they can help you improve what you do? I urge you to visit your dental laboratory technician and open the conversation.

Kelley Brummett DMD

Dr. Kelley D. Brummett was born and raised in Missouri. She attended the University of Kansas on a full-ride scholarship in springboard diving and received honors for being the Big Eight Diving Champion on the 1 meter springboard in 1988 and in 1992. Dr. Kelley received her BA in communication at the University of Kansas and went on to receive her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. After practicing nursing, Dr Kelley Brummett went on to earn a degree in Dentistry at the Medical College of Georgia. She has continued her education at the Pankey Institute to further her love of learning and her pursuit to provide quality individual care. Dr. Brummett is a Clinical Instructor at Georgia Regents University and is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Brummett and her husband Darin have two children, Sarah and Sam. They have made Newnan their home for the past 9 years. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, reading and playing with her dogs. Dr. Brummett is an active member of the ADA, GDA, AGDA, and an alumni of the Pankey Institute.

Kelley Brummett DMD

2 thoughts on “Visit Your Dental Lab

  • Avatar
    August 26, 2020 at 10:31 am
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    Great reminder and invitation to a continuing conversation relationship – everyone wins!

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  • nshetter
    August 26, 2020 at 11:29 am
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    Kelly – Excellent post. Especially now, your lab wants to know you are going to be a long-term client. They want to help you and help you understand what you can do to help them. Our study group has always included a lab person as well as doctors. We have also found value in taking the whole office to visit our local lab so they understand what is going on outside the office. Give your lab the freedom to ask you to do something over without anger. That level of respect will pay dividends in the long run.

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