Excellent cosmetic dentistry is the result of precise and coordinated teamwork between a cosmetic dentist and a dental lab technician experienced in creating the most natural and beautiful cosmetic restorations. Most patients are unaware of the role a dental lab plays and how important they are to the process of cosmetic dentistry.
Communication with the dental lab is critical for Cosmetic Dentistry
The amount of interaction and communication between the dentist and the dental lab technician varies from one office to the next. It is very time consuming to coordinate treatment with the dental lab technician. Many dental offices minimize this process to a sheet of paper with instructions in order to save time, while other offices are actively in contact with the laboratory technician or technicians via phone, email and photographs of the treatment process.
Cosmetic dentistry requires careful diagnosis, meticulous planning, advanced experience, and excellent teamwork in order to produce amazing results. When a patient has a cosmetic procedure, such as porcelain dental veneers, their dentist should work very closely with a lab technician WHO CREATES the restorations that the dentist will place in the patient’s mouth. Without proper teamwork and coordination, it is no wonder why many dental restorations seem fake and un-natural. Like everything else, clear an effective communication is a fundamental to a beautiful result.
We believe working closely and personally with our lab technicians is a critical part of creating a beautiful cosmetic smile for our patients.
The Role of the Dentist & Dental Lab Technician in Cosmetic Dentistry
THE DENTIST: The cosmetic dentist must plan and coordinate the entire treatment. The cosmetic dentist must thoroughly evaluate the patient and their treatment goals, and combine this with the many dental materials and techniques which are possible. Then the cosmetic dentist must communicate the specifics of each unique case with the dental lab technician and finalize the treatment plan. With a coordinated plan in place, the cosmetic dentist will prepare the teeth with smooth and accurate margins on the teeth, while carefully and exactly reducing the teeth to the bare minimum amount to achieve the desired results. Any more or any less reduction in the tooth can cause complications. An impression is taken and the resulting model is used by the dental lab to create the restorations.
THE DENTAL LAB TECHNICIAN: Ideally, the dental lab technician becomes involved in the process very early on, but this can vary from one office to the next. Often times for cosmetic dentistry cases, the lab technician will come in-office or schedule time to meet the patient and perform an evaluation of the patient’s current condition for the purpose of planning. Other times, a complete set of high resolution preliminary photographs are used to communicate information with the lab and plan the case. Throughout the treatment process, the lab is in communication with the dentist via additional photographs, phone conversations, and emails. The dental lab technician uses the final impression made by the dentist and produces a model which is used to create the dental restorations. These restorations will go in the patient’s mouth as the permanent restoration.
When the dentist and dental lab work together as a team, all aspects of a case are carefully planned and this allows for the best outcome. When time is not taken to develop this relationship and properly communicate as a team, the same results are not possible.
The different types of Dental Labs who perform Cosmetic Dentistry
Some dental labs provide budget restorations which are lower in cost and quality, while other cosmetic dental lab technicians are focused on delivering the highest quality cosmetic restorations.
There are large high-volume dental labs which are run much like a factory assembly line with over 500 employees, and there are smaller labs with just the master ceramist and an assistant. The cost between a budget lab and a cosmetic dental lab technician can vary up to 2000%.
For the best cosmetic dentistry, it is recommended to work directly with a skilled master dental lab technician. These cosmetic dental lab technicians are artists and spend a tremendous amount of time creating beautiful restorations. These technicians require direct communication in order to provide their best possible cosmetic dental restorations. When you are in communication directly with the technician you can easily communicate the specifics of the case. The same communication is not possible when numerous technicians are working on the restoration from start to finish as an assembly line.
Some cosmetic dental offices choose to hire a lab technician to work in their office. This is generally a good thing for communication, however we refrain from doing this for a couple of major reasons:
- The best lab technicians in the world refuse to work for one dentist because they are able to do a lot more of the cases they enjoy in a private lab setting.
- No lab technician is the best at every single type of procedure. For instance some lab technicians are better for veneer restorations, while others are the best for implant supported full mouth reconstructions.
For these reasons, we work with a handful of labs who have different areas of expertise. For each case, we decide on the best technician for the particular case.
Education, training and Experience varies about Cosmetic Dentistry Lab Technicians
Like anything in medicine and dentistry, there is a wide range of talents among dental technicians. Some dental lab technicians learn on the job while others complete highly competitive training programs under the mentorship of world-famous lab technicians. Certain designations such as Certified Dental Technician, Certified Master Technician, or Certified Master Ceramist are earned through experience and advanced training and testing. Additionally, experience varies from one technician to another between certain types of cases like veneers or implant supported restorations.
With the wide range of training and experience, there is a huge difference in the quality of the final product from one technician and another.
Take a look at a before and after case we recently completed:
We work with the Best Cosmetic Dentistry Lab Technicians across the world
We choose to work with only the top dental ceramists who serve as professors at highly influential universities and lecture internationally to other dental ceramists on their unique specialties and new techniques. As a team, our mission is to provide the best dentistry possible for our patients and we value the important role of our entire team in achieving this.
Please join the discussion & submit your comment below.
Amos Harting says
Nicely said…and very much agree and appreciate your clarification on restorations and why the variance in esthetics, quality and by all means price which is needed for the additional time to create custom made restorations.
Thanks for such a wonderful article!!!
Amos Harting CDT
Adam Almeida says
What dental lab do you use for your cosmetic dentistry?
Dr. Matt Nejad says
Hey Adam- Great question. We use a lot of different lab technicians for our cosmetic dentistry depending on the treatment goals, patient budget, and also the ceramist’s actually area of expertise. Some ceramists are particularly good at one type of treatment or scenario, such as if pink gingiva has to be re-created, or if the tooth shade needs to be masked due to tetracycline staining.