It’s easy to find people talking about the virtual death of the dental labs in this country. Many dental schools no longer include dental lab programs in their curricula. And many dentists are now outsourcing their dental lab work overseas. We talked about that in an earlier blog. There are some quality shops overseas, I’m sure, but there are more complaints, at least that’s what I saw in my research on the subject.
The new technology for creating restorations has an upside and a downside. The upside is, of course, the incredible speed and accuracy of the new systems like the Sirona Dental Systems that enable you to send a patient out the door with new crowns or onlays in one visit. The only downside here is that the system is a steep investment for a small lab or new practitioner.
There are those who might be okay with foreign outsourcing for all our dental appliance and restoration work. I would disagree with them. One obvious drawback, all other things being equal, is the time delay should there need to be an adjustment of the appliance or restoration that can’t be done chairside. You don’t really want to make a patient wait while you send off to a far-distant country for a replacement.
Internal Problems in Our Dental Schools
Thirty years ago, there were nearly 60 dental lab programs in our schools. Now there are only 20. Part of the problem is inside the schools. Because of the new technology, the schools have to invest heavily to keep up. A dental lab can make back the money from their investment but the school may not be able to, especially if students hear about the outsourcing and decide to take a different path in their educations.
So it is understandable that many schools have reallocated personnel and classroom resources in other directions. There’s also not that much funding earmarked for teaching dental lab technology compared with other specialities.
We Continue to Innovate to Support the Industry
We firmly believe that there will always be a need for quality dental lab products and well-trained technicians right here at home. We will continue to work with our friends in this industry to provide the dental lab supplies that make your jobs easier. If the environment gets more challenging, well, that makes it all the more important that our friends have the smoothest, fastest production lines possible. As always, that’s what our products aim to do. Reduce the separate steps, shorten the time, improve the quality – and make the entire operation more viable.
Dentists who don’t build an in-house lab will always need the dental lab products to make chairside adjustments and clean up the polish or shine, so we can help even our friends who do not invest in their own labs. We’re here to help – now and long into the future. As long as we can continue to help you expand, then we all can prosper together.