Five Dental Lab Questions

Starting a new relationship, whether business or personal, can be tricky, and finding a new dental lab is no different. Ensuring the dental lab can provide for your needs and at your standards will require you to ask some questions. Following are the top five questions to ask:

1. “Do you use ADA-approved materials?”
The old saying, “you get what you pay for” might be cliché, but it is also fact. If a dental lab is offering products at a much lower price than other labs, the product is probably not the same high quality. Ask the lab if their materials are ADA-approved and what companies they purchase their materials from. You can also request the dental lab provide a proof of purchase from the manufacturer for the materials you buy from them, or call the manufacturer directly and ask if the dental lab carries their products.

2. “Do you use genuine manufacturer parts and hardware for implant restorations?
Not all materials are created equally, and it’s important to know where your dental lab gets their parts and hardware. You want the best for your patients, so making sure your dental lab is selling quality products is a must. Also, if you have any problems with the implant, or any part you purchase, it will only be covered under warranty if it is a genuine manufacturer part. Again, you can ask the lab to send you proof that your parts and hardware are genuine manufacturer parts, or contact the manufacturer directly. You can also ask the dental lab about purchasing your own parts directly from the manufacturer and having them sent to the lab for the technicians to use.

3. “How do you perform quality control checks on your work?
One of the most important things you will want to know is how long it will take the lab to fill your orders. It takes time to craft high quality dental parts and hardware, so if a lab has a turnaround time that is much quicker than other labs, you have to question why. You can ask the lab how many technicians they have working full-time on products and what procedures they have in place to ensure their products meet your standards. Your best chance at receiving consistent, high quality products comes from using a lab with a team of technicians working full time, rather than a lab that hires subcontractors to fill orders more quickly.

4. “Do you send your work offshore?
Companies have been outsourcing to other countries for years, and dental labs are no exception. Labor and materials are often cheaper in countries like China and Mexico, but these countries do not have to follow the same FDA and ADA regulations that U.S. labs do. This can cause problems in the quality of your dental parts and can even be dangerous, since toxic materials may have been used to make the products. Labs that send work offshore may be able to offer lower prices, but the risk far outweighs any money you might initially save.

5. “May I visit your lab?
Once you have asked your questions and feel like this dental lab could be a good fit for your practice, ask for a tour of their facility. Seeing the cleanliness of their lab, the tools they use, the parts and hardware they order, and meeting their technicians face-to-face will help you make the final decision. Building a rapport with the technicians will benefit your working relationship, because when you call about orders or problems in the future, they will be more than just voices on the other end of the phone.

Feel free to call us with these five dental lab questions!