Winning Dentist and Dental Laboratory Communication
By: Sean Siegel
I enjoy the distinction of being a second generation dental laboratory owner. I grew up around the dental laboratory, watching my Dad make teeth, visit with doctors on the phone and run a business all at the same time. For me, my professional career started in Alaska’s travel & tourism industry, from a chef on a train to Regional Manager for a small ship cruise company, I did it all and I learned a ton. I learned about attention to detail and communicating with both customers/guests & all the many staff members it took to move folks successfully through an amazing (bucket list-like) Alaskan vacation.
Hold the train/bus!! Literally.
In 2003, I shifted gears… no pun intended! The dental laboratory where I had only previously held minor roles as a young kid growing up, now was my responsibility. Full disclosure, I’m not a dental laboratory technician, but I’m thankful every day for those who are.
So off we go…what’s my new role in the dental laboratory if I can’t actually make the teeth?
First thing – learn dentistry! This is something I still do every day. That’s why they call it a laboratory and a dental practice.
Second thing, focus on communication and developing teamwork within the laboratory, and equally important – with our clients.
Communicating with dentists is actually very rewarding – here’s a short list of the types of meaningful conversations you encounter on a regular basis: patient care, business opportunities, clinical dentistry concepts (and there’s a lot of them), strategizing / planning treatment plans, new technology, etc.
What is great about these conversations and opportunities is they are never one-sided and they are all very necessary.
When a clinician is shown and sees the value of this very important TEAMWORK opportunity with their dental laboratory = GAME ON!
Who wins = everyone! At the top of the list, patients win, dental office staff win, doctors win, and the laboratory wins.
The dental laboratory plays a unique role in the success of a dental office, in what I like to call ‘The Trusted Agent’. The laboratory has many responsibilities in conjunction with a practice’s success, including even patient retention & practice growth.
Acting as The Trusted Agent includes many responsibilities that fall directly on the laboratory. Some the these responsibilities may include
- Continually bring the clinician updated information on the quality materials (FDA approved of course) being used in the laboratory and how to appropriately share this powerful information with patients.
- Ensure that offices are aware of technology advancements that affect us all.
- Planning the success of complex cases – patients appreciate the teamwork approach here too.
Education is by far the best avenue for how a dental laboratory can help support a practice. The dental practice and dental
laboratory should communicate with one another about materials and concepts that aid in both their personal and professional growth. Building partnerships can bring advancements in dentistry to the forefront.
The What’s In Your Mouth Program symbolizes everything that is important about this vital teamwork and communication concept between dentist and laboratory. The opportunity to spread this important message about transparency, quality, standards/certification and the important role that the dental laboratory and dental technician play in oral health care is the responsibility of us all.
When it becomes everyone’s goal to provide meaningful content for dentists, dental laboratory professionals and patients through these channels of communication and teamwork that educate, we all win.
Sean Siegel is president and owner of Castable Ceramics, an Anchorage-based dental laboratory that provides Alaska’s dentists with esthetic crowns, bridges, veneers and other products. Siegel received a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Montana State University in 1995. Siegel took over operations as vice president of Castable Ceramics in 2005, and purchased the business out-right in 2009.