Working with Dental Laboratories


Chapter 24: Working with Dental Laboratories

Working with dental labs may not be as simple as you think. There is going to be more to the relationship between you and the lab than simply placing an order and receiving a product. You need to find common grounds for a working relationship. You and the dental lab will both benefit when you do.

Choosing a Dental Lab

When you are ready to begin working with a dental lab, you need to first choose the lab or labs you want to work with. You have several decisions to make. You can choose a small, local lab that might give you more personal attention or a large, national lab that might have more advanced technology. Are any of the labs you are considering offering discounts? If so, would you rather have that incentive or work with a lab that has other advantages? Is the lab certified? If not, do you really want to take a chance they will not follow industry standards or have adequate quality control? Consider your decision carefully, and then reevaluate that decision once per year, making changes as needed.

Why One Lab May Not Be Enough

If you are using a small local lab, they might not have the production capacity to meet all your needs. Yet, if you want to use them there is no reason why you should not give them some of your business by splitting your lab work between two or more labs. You might also want to use the local lab for general work and a more advanced lab for complex or challenging lab projects. Finally, it is good to have a relationship with a second lab in case anything changes with the first lab or they are having trouble completing an assignment.

Work Together with the Lab to Keep Costs Down

As you develop a relationship with a dental lab, spend some time with the lab manager to explore how you can reduce your lab costs. Perhaps you can jointly come up with ways to reduce rework to 1% or the work you do together. Talk to them about other ways to increase the efficiency in the way you each do your part of the assignment.

Managing Lab Costs In Your Practice

Run a report or look at statements from each lab you work with to find the amount you are spending each month. Then, if your lab fees are more than 9% of your total expenses, look for ways to reduce them. You can enjoy a good working relationship with the lab of your choice – one that benefits both and increases your profitability.

Checklist for Working with Dental Labs

  • Choose the size of lab you want to work with.
  • Decide whether or not to use a local lab.
  • Determine how many different labs you want or need to work with.
  • Develop a strong business relationship.
  • Communicate with the lab about possible ways to reduce lab costs.
  • Reevaluate your relationship with the lab every year.