The National Association of Dental Laboratories (NADL) has released its 2015 Business Survey and updated numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics to share with dentists the latest dental laboratory trends and statistics. In the commentary portion of the survey, dental laboratory owners and managers brought up key issues such as price, computer-aided design and manufacturing technology, certification, regulation and offshore outsourcing.
“We’ve created this survey to give dentists a better sense of what kind of labs are out there,” says NADL President Dena Lanier. “There are many lab owners who invest in making sure their staff is highly skilled, educated and trained, and we praise those laboratories. However, we want to make dentists aware that not all labs are following quality standards.”
The Business Survey aims to gather national-level data about dental laboratories with responses provided by dental laboratory owners or managers. The survey was first conducted in 2005 and is updated each year to provide accurate information on the dental laboratory industry. The 2015 survey questioned respondents on eight areas: demographics and laboratory characteristics, payroll and salaries, benefits, fees by product line, sales, remakes, clients and profit, outlook/layoffs and outsourcing.
“Since outsourcing labs often don’t register as laboratories, more outsourcing is done than reported,” says one survey respondent. Reasons most cited for outsourcing include price, requested by dental clients, labor savings, too much work to handle and outside expertise.
As for regulation, 80.2 percent of respondents’ laboratories were not inspected by government agencies, according to the 2015 Business Survey.
“It is crucial that dentists are informed about where they are getting their dental restorations from to ensure the health of the patient,” says Lanier.
NADL’s “What’s In Your Mouth?” campaign raises public awareness of regulations, standards, transparency, safety issues and the important role that the dental laboratory and dental laboratory technician play as part of the oral health care team.
“The dental industry needs to be less focused on the price aspect,” says one dental laboratory owner who participated in the survey. “Expertise, quality and artistry are more important in the creation of dental restorations.”
For dentists to ensure their patients are getting the quality restorations they deserve, NADL suggests dentists find out if their state requires minimum dental laboratory standards, stay up-to-date with legislative updates and find out if the laboratory they work with is certified. Dentists can download the 2015 Business Survey on the NADL website.