When people go to the dentist, I doubt many think about the role of their dentist’s laboratory technician. After the dentist takes an impression, the technician is the one responsible for making the permanent crowns (caps), porcelain veneers, gold or porcelain fillings and dentures. The technician can also perform denture repairs, such as replacing lost or damaged teeth, and many other indispensable tasks. Although most dentists send their lab work to a remote location, I believe that there are distinct advantages to having the dental lab “on-site”.
The most important benefit of having a technician on-site is the dentist’s ability to discuss certain aspects of a person’s treatment, face to face. For instance, if I am doing porcelain veneers for a patient, I can show my technician just how the patient and I want the teeth to look. If my technician has any questions, he can show me exactly what he needs clarification on. In some cases, I will bring my technician into the treatment room to see the patient so he can better understand what I would like him to do. This is very different from a dentist using a technician at a remote location. In this situation, the dentist and technician can only rely on what is written on a prescription pad, or discussed by phone. In some cases, important details can get “lost in the translation”.
Another benefit of having an on-site technician is when fast turn-around is essential. If a patient breaks a front tooth off their denture and needs to get to a wedding in an hour, having a technician on-site is a great advantage. I also believe that the quality of the working relationship between the dentist and technician has a direct impact on the quality of dental care that patients receive. Having the technician on-site greatly improves communication and attention to detail that is necessary for successful dental treatment.