The Role of a Dental Lab
Rarely are patients familiar with the role of the dental lab in dentistry because we work in tandem with dentists behind the scenes. In simple terms, dental labs fill prescriptions that a dentist submits to them so the lab will fabricate whatever appliance, restoration or prosthesis the dentist requests in writing. But, it is so much more than that. We are essentially creating body parts for patients.
Types of Dental Labs
In general, there are several different types of dental labs:
- Crown and Bridge/C&B (single teeth and bridges)
- Removable (full and partial dentures)
- Full-Service (does both C&B and removable)
- Ortho (retainers and appliances)
Most labs today have also incorporated implants into their offerings because they are the new standard of care. The thing to note about full service dental labs is that everyone can’t be an expert in everything. C&B and removable are two distinctly different disciplines. In most full-service labs, typically one area suffers.
Differences Among Dental Labs
Like any other industry, all dental labs are not created equal. There are three distinct factors that differentiate what a lab produces for you the patient:
- materials/processing used
- level of expertise
The Reality of Dental Insurance
It is important for patients to know that dentists are being limited by dental insurance these days. This can often lead to the dentist avoiding the best options for patients because they have to make choices based solely on price. The cheapest dental restorations are not typically the best. Costs are saved by using less expensive materials and processing as well as less experienced technicians to fabricate the products. As a patient, you need to be aware that dental insurance is not a typical insurance plan that would cover everything. Dental insurance is simply a maintenance plan that covers your basic maintenance like cleanings and fillings.
How To Get Great Lab Work
It is important for patients to know that in addition to the prescription, your dentist submits your records for labs to work from. Your entire case depends on these records. Records come in the form of impressions, photos and bite registrations. The more information the lab has the better. It is critical that these records are accurate for the lab to be able to create restorations that fit properly. This is the most important step in the process because it dictates your final result. Time spent upfront on records and case planning saves time, money and frustration. Be patient while your dentist takes your records.
Questions to Ask Your Dentist About the Lab They Choose