Three ways to take your lab out of isolation – Jonathan Fleet

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  Posted by: Dental Design      1st March 2018

The role of a dental technician is highly skilled and creative, but can be isolated at times. Depending on your specialism, the lab might be noisy or you might work in a separated area, making communication with colleagues a challenge. Working in implantology, it’s easy to shut the rest of the team out when you become absorbed in a complex case. In the long term, it can also be hard to connect with the wider dental community given that this often requires time out of the laboratory.

There was a time when the technician and dentist didn’t interact at all – a lab ticket was put in the post following an impression of the patient’s mouth and the required restoration or appliance returned a few weeks later. Today, of course, this couldn’t be further from reality. Technicians now have the tools to get involved with treatment as early as the planning stage, offering their expert knowledge on prosthetics and materials to help the dentist present the best available treatment to the patient.

Indeed, effective communication between technician and dentist is integral to a successful outcome. It ensures that sufficient information is passed between colleagues, enabling each to fulfil their roles as efficiently as possible. It also allows them to work together as a team.

Despite this, lines of communication can and do get blurred. Instructions may be ambiguous. If an open and communicative relationship does not exist – between lab and practice, and between lab manager and the technician who is completing the work – this can start a domino effect of problems. For example, with unclear instructions the technicians may make a decision based on their own expertise that will not be right for the patient. Ultimately, the patient is at the heart of dentistry. A happy patient who receives the right treatment first time, avoiding inconvenient and uncomfortable repeat appointments, will return to their dentist and (hopefully) recommend the practice to family and friends. It follows that the dentist will then be in a position to direct more work to the lab and extend their own recommendations to colleagues.


No lab – or technician – is an island! Here’s how to improve the way you connect, both with your team and with the dental community.


  1. Communicate with your lab team

The first step is to look at how you communicate within your team – whether this is two, ten or twenty people. Protocols should be in place to share feedback on a regular basis, such as regular team meetings. An honest approach to discussing things like realistic timeframes and material selection and ways to improve results is essential; sharing knowledge is a tried-and-tested way to achieve best practice. With everyone in the loop, there is more chance that any queries from the dentist can be dealt with in an informed and efficient manner, no matter who answers the call or replies to the email and taking absence/holiday into account too. Investing time in nurturing relationships between team members will enhance your reputation as a lab, helping you deal with any challenge.

  1. Communication with your dentists

Next, think about how you communicate with your dentists. A successful lab will understand that a solid and transparent relationship with each and every client is key to its success. Of course, there will be the inevitable blip, but the secret is to know how to get back on track quickly and work together to reach the desired outcome. Again, the person who will benefit most from the lab and practice communicating in a clear and open manner is the patient.


  1. Harness the power of technology

Online dental lab tools can improve communication; this is the counterpoint to the argument that technology has actually made us more remote from one another. Technology in the dental industry has helped us find new ways to connect in a more meaningful way and helped everyone in the treatment process understand each other better. There are various products on the market that can be used to involve your referring dentists right at the start of the process. For example, NobelClinician is a visual communication tool that can help avoid unwanted surprises with careful diagnosis and treatment planning, including estimating the cost of the finished work. Using state-of-the-art technology, the dentist can then use the visuals to explain the treatment to the patient, improving compliance.

A good lab knows that it has a key part to play in nurturing the technician-dentist relationship. Communication is crucial; if your team can communicate well with each other and with your dentists, everyone’s lives will become easier. Technology used well can further enhance workflow. It can encourage technicians out of isolation, bringing them firmly into the fold of the dental family. When lab and practice work together as a team – working with, not just for each other – high-quality care, stable treatment and a positive experience can be the outcome, every time.


For more information, contact Nobel Biocare on 0208 756 3300, or visit











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