In today’s competitive market it doesn’t matter if you want to “Make America Great Again” or not, most people agree that “Made in America” is a desirable and a very sellable topic. The statement alone stands for a quality product. Dentists are missing out on one of the simplest marketing tools available, their U.S. dental laboratory.
Anytime I walk into a dentist office, I usually notice a few things that are typically present. A diploma from the dental school the dentist graduated from, plaques acknowledging organizations and associations they belong to, and recognitions of accomplishments they have received in their profession.
All of these are posted to show the patient that they are in the hands of a licensed, educated, and capable doctor. Why not advertise that the doctor seats restorations from a certified, educated, and capable dental laboratory? Showing a patient that a doctor has taken measures to ensure that a crown or denture was made with the best possible material by the most skilled technicians (Certified Dental Technicians) is a great way for that patient to have the confidence to recommend the doctor to another potential patient. Most patients think that the restoration is made by the dentist or staff and have no knowledge of the dental laboratory. Why would you not want the best to represent you and your practice?
I recently had to go to the ER because of a bicycle accident. When the doctor put stiches in my head I was wondering who manufactured those stiches? What are they made of? (Yea, I’m weird like that). But because it is the health/medical field, I know that it is VERY regulated and watched over by multiple state and federal agencies along with countless insurance agencies. If I was given a choice between an American made stitch – made with known materials in a controlled environment or another “brand” that was less expensive I would definitely pick the first. Even if it was only a few dollars more. The fact that the first choice was transparent in their materials and origin was the selling point. And these were only skin deep for a week. Why should we not make the same choice when picking a dental restoration? Unfortunately, dentist are not required to disclose where their restorations come from, who makes them, or what they are made out of. For this reason, patients get restorations not knowing if they are made in a dental laboratory, garage, basement, cave, underwater, by elves, with magic, or overseas.
Take a walk down any grocery store aisle and you will see a good example of using transparency to sell. “100% beef in hotdogs”, “Real sugar in sodas”, “Free Range on eggs”, and “All Natural” on just about everything. These items are telling the consumer that the manufacturers are producing a better product because of what is in them or how they are made. As a consumer, I am assuming that the FDA, the manufacturer, and sometimes the store has checked and verified that the statements made on these packages are true and has ensured my safety. You bet I reach for the better product. I would hope everyone would. But some don’t. Sometimes it is more expensive. Does price outweigh quality?
For a dental restoration, quality should always be above price. Of course, it should look like a natural restoration, but does it follow the three “Fs”: Form, Fit, and Function? Does it use FDA registered materials? Advertising a quality restoration made by a quality dental laboratory is a major plus. This is not food. This is something that will be a function of a patient’s everyday life for years to come. Working with a dental laboratory that is a (Certified Dental Laboratory) is a great way to start. Each CDL on a yearly basis must document how it “has met specific standards relating to quality assurance, safety, and business manufacturing practices.” It also shows that the dental laboratory is dedicated to proving that they want to produce the best the industry has to offer and is proud to do it. It is not hard to become a CDL, it just requires a dental laboratory to do things right. One can save money by getting restorations made overseas or in unregulated labs, but at what cost? Your savings usually come from the lab cutting cost. Be it material or labor, it’s the patient that can suffer.
How could a dental office use this to advertise and grow? Think about procedure acceptance. When talking to a patient about a crown or bridge that they need, do you think they would like to hear how the restoration was made by certified experts using the best material available? Any dental laboratory would be happy to provide material to help your office advertise to the patients about the quality of restoration you are providing. From white sheets and brochures to sample restorations, this can greatly increase patient acceptance.
Imagine a patient getting two flyers in the mail on the same day from two different local dentists. One flyer advertises that the dental office offers crowns and dentures as one of its many services. The other flyer states that it provides crowns and dentures from a Certified Dental Laboratory using the best material provided. For a patient that might need a crown, which one will they call first? Keep in mind that neither one offers a price. But with transparent advertising a patient can make a decision based off of information and trust. Next time the patient is sitting in the waiting room and looks up at the diploma and the various association plaques they should be looking for reassurance that the best possible restoration (crown, bridge, denture, partial, implant, or sleep and ortho appliances) is being offered. And for dentists that are already using a Certified Dental Laboratory, it’s time to reassure the patient that you are taking the necessary steps to provide the best possible care the industry has to offer. The question is why should a patient not get the best and why should a dentist office not offer the best?
Elvis Dahl is the Director of Operations for Somer Dental Laboratories, a laboratory that has seen dental technology advance many different ways in the last 35+ years. Focusing on customer service, Elvis sees the importance in a dental lab forming partnerships with dentist and working together to grow both businesses and to help patients. He loves meeting new clients to learn about doctors’ needs and educate them about the new and exciting ways that a dental laboratory can help their practice.
Elvis has a degree in Information Technology, is a NADL University graduate, a member of the NADL & CAL-LAB, SPEARS study club, and is currently a candidate to be on the 2018 Board of Directors for the NADL.