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Many people just do not understand the role or importance of the dental laboratory in their overall dental health.   In most circumstances, people do not even know which laboratory is used as this is a decision that is almost always left up to the dentist.   The laboratory that is chosen to participate in your dental health is vital, and this is true whether you need one crown replaced or several.   First quite simply a dental laboratory is responsible for the creation of the dental restoration (crown, bridge, implant, veneer, etc.)  Since no two mouths or teeth are the same, each restoration is customized to the individual patient.  This type of customization requires knowledge of anatomy, artistic talent, engineering as well as an understanding of chemistry all wrapped up in one.   Finding a truly reputable, knowledgeable and capable laboratory is challenging. 

The challenge, however, is worth the rewards.  As a patient, it is important for you to advocate for yourself and family members and this means to do everything you can to educate yourself so that you receive optimal care.  So, what difference does the dental laboratory your dentist chooses to work with make?  The answer to this is it makes all the difference.   For one the crown, bridge, or veneer you are receiving should match the rest of your mouth.  It should not look like a crown, but it should blend, match and look natural.  Next, the crown should fit properly and be sealed where the tooth and crown come together.  If not done correctly, decay can begin leading you to things such as a root canal and essentially more cost.  Next, if the laboratory does not understand the complete function of the mouth, serious new issues can occur including breaking or wearing down of perfectly healthy teeth. This type of problem may take months or even years to manifest, but when it does, it can be very costly.  Why not do everything you can to eliminate the possibility of creating long term expensive issues.

As a patient, it’s hard to evaluate one laboratory from another, but there are some things you can do to ensure that your dentist is using a top notch lab.  To do this take the following steps:

  1. Find out the lab’s name and do a little research.  Go to their website.  Usually, a laboratory will provide information as to how long they have been in business and provide pictures of the work they have done.  The website is often geared to the dentist, but you will be able to get a sense of the lab from this step.
  2. Find out if the laboratory attends continuing education courses and then ask which ones.  A good lab will be focused on education and have attended some occlusion or function related courses.
  3. Inform your dentist that the laboratory is important to you and that you want to ensure that your case is handled by a top lab.  In many cases, dentists may have more than one laboratory they use.   You should let them know that you want a top lab and share with them the qualities discussed in this article. 

Taking control of your health is one of the most important things you can do to not only live a long, productive life but also to ensure that you are using your financial resources wisely.  At Opus One Laboratories we take the patient perspective very seriously.  We have spent countless hours learning alongside dentists to ensure that we are providing the best dentistry possible.  Please see our article “How to Choose a Dentist” to find more tips to help you make informed dental decisions.

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