Dental lab team working on a case - treatment planning

Dental Lab’s Role in Treatment Planning

Treatment planning for complex restorative cases is one of the most important steps in providing successful dental care to your patients.

By including your dental lab technician in the pre-planning stage, you’ll be able to better recommend the appropriate types of restorations and materials to improve case acceptance.

Over the past few years, the acceleration in technologies and new restorative materials has outpaced most dentist’s ability to research, absorb, and understand their uses and clinical implications while still maintaining a robust dental practice. Relying on an informed, educated lab technician is the best avenue for ensuring that your patient receives the benefits of a particular type of zirconium or the newest porcelain glaze.

Newly graduated dentists lack the hands-on laboratory experience in today’s dental schools. Thus, they must rely heavily on experienced lab technicians. Remember that, while both new and veteran dentists might be doing one or two crowns per day, an experienced technician probably fabricates one or two every hour.

That tech also uses a variety of materials and techniques.


When to Involve the Lab Technician

When a patient presents a need for multiple indirect restorations, implants, or removable prosthetics, your first call should be to your dental lab technician.

Working closely with the technician on cases from their outset saves you both time and money. The point of view of the lab technician, regarding preparation requirements, esthetic considerations, materials to use, implant placement, and prosthetic design, is an invaluable asset to tap into prior to prepping the first tooth.

Also, by engaging in a conversation with your lab technician prior to finalizing any complicated restorative treatment plan, implant design, and/or prosthetic cases, you’ll avoid last minute changes.

Consulting with a lab technician prior to starting a challenging restorative or prosthetic case is a vital step in an efficient workflow process. Technicians understand clinical situations, and they can recommend appropriate designs and materials that will result in optimal outcomes for the patient.

This is especially true when new materials, equipment, and techniques are necessary, or when challenges for function or esthetics are present.


Responsibilities of the Lab Technician in Treatment Planning

Clinical dentists use their expertise and education to accurately assess a patient’s health status, dental, and orofacial needs.

They provide the diagnosis and develop a relationship with the patient that guides both care and treatment.

In contrast, the dental lab technician is responsible for the following procedures:

  • Interpreting and carrying out the dentist’s written specifications
  • Initiating calls or in-person visits with the dentist to clarify orders
  • Identifying design flaws or potential problems with fabrication orders
  • Keeping up with the latest dental materials and procedures through continuing education
  • Identifying significant defects on the impression or models
  • Following dental material specifications and regulations
  • Following recommended infection control practices for incoming and outgoing prosthesis


If you contact your lab technician early in the treatment planning stage, the points of view of both you and the technician can be included in the plan. As the saying goes: Two heads are better than one.

This is especially true when you’re planning difficult dental cases.


Include Your Lab Technician from the Start

Treatment planning is a collaborative effort.

It allows for both you and your technician to discuss cases early in the diagnostic phase. This robust communication leads to better outcomes for the patient, reduces needless remakes, decreases stress, allows for better time management, and builds trust between dental team members.

Everyone benefits.

At First Choice Dental Lab®, our technicians love to collaborate with our dentists in early planning for complex cases.

Contact us today to discuss your questions and treatment planning challenges with both your routine as well as your more problematic cases. We are here to help.



About First Choice Dental Lab®

We’re a full service dental lab with locations in Downers Grove & Downtown Chicago, IL. We manufacture & customize quality dental restorations for general dentists. From in-house work to outsourcing, we create smiles based on your needs and budget. We’re here to help you give your people a reason to smile!


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