Top Ways for a Better Communication Between Dentists and Dental Labs

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” –(an excerpt from Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy)


That quote is from Tolstoy’s book and is referred to as the “Anna Karenina principle” and it refers to how poor performance can ruin an entire relationship. This is why nailing the relationship with your dental lab matters. A study states that about 22% of dentists switch labs because of poor communication.


We came up with a practical guide to help you build a strong and effective partnership with your dental laboratory in 3 simple steps!


Step 01: Evaluate and choose the right dental lab.

Finding a dental lab that is a good fit from the start ensures a smooth relationship in the long run. In addition to looking at dental lab reviews and getting referrals from colleagues, you can also do some additional detective work to help you come to a decision. Just because a dental lab places splashy ad does not mean it is the right dental lab for you. You should go beyond price and image to determine the best partner for your practice.


You can even visit prospective dental laboratories with your team. It will help if you get to know the techs and managers on a personal level. You can also find out if the dental lab is certified, as well as the technicians. Keep in mind that recalls also happen, and it is important to know how a dental lab responds.


Step 02: Master the day-to-day communication with your dental lab.

A continued communication is the only thing that can transform a relationship between dentists and dental labs into a true long-term collaboration. It is important to schedule a monthly standing call with your dental lab. Address cases and any issues with fit, patient feedback and even remakes.


More is always better when talking about case documentation. It is important for dentists to send photos, completed RX slips, and pre-op models/diagnostic wax-ups. Also, complex cases or large orders might require additional communication. It is best to reach out to your dental lab directly with instructions or patient information that will help them create accurate restorations.


Do not forget to seek and provide feedback continually – this is of utmost importance.


Step 03: Use technology to communicate more effectively.

Digital technology improves the way dentists and dental labs communicate, just as digital scanning technology saves time and improves restorative outcomes. Apps like Facetime and Skype enable you to combine live video with chat to address any restoration issue visually. For more complex cases, you can have three or more people in different offices on the discussion – Google Hangouts enables you to conference in multiple people with video, and text, file and screen sharing.


Remember, finding a new dental lab from time to time can be costly, and it takes time that you likely do not have. Working through communication issues is always the best place to start!