Why Your Dental Lab’s Quality Assurance Matters

Every reliable dental laboratory wants to ensure the quality of outgoing and incoming cases.

From owners and managers to bench technicians, the number-one priority for every case we touch is manufacturing dental prosthetics, restorations, and appliances that meet or exceed the standards of the dental profession, and the expectations of both you and your patient.

Quality Assurance: The Key to Consistency and Satisfaction

Quality assurance programs in dental labs serve a variety of purposes: Minimization of remakes, a clear understanding of your work orders, assurance of lab personnel competence, safety and infection control, documentation of protocols, tracking material sources, and nurturing our relationships with you.

With solid programs in place, you’ll ably provide the final dental products to your patients with full confidence in the quality and reliability of our work.

A University of Louisville study identified poor communication between clinicians and lab technicians as the most frequent problem that leads to poor outcomes for dental lab cases. Unclear or ambiguous orders led to mistakes by the lab, costly remakes, and patient dissatisfaction.

On the flip side, the implementation of a standardized quality assurance process improved overall communication of clinic-to-lab communication, and lowered the rate of errors.

The report also revealed several additional positive outcomes. Better communication between clinicians and lab technicians resulted in significant remake reduction, and led to better patient satisfaction. And, the use of standardized audit checklists for both incoming and outgoing lab cases improved quality, efficiency, and treatment planning outcomes.

How Labs Establish QA Programs

A robust dental laboratory quality assurance program solves many outcome problems.

The most credible dental labs follow standard protocols to review incoming cases, which identifies potential problems before the technicians create cases. It begins with a clear, concise work order, followed by adequate casts, preps, impressions, bite registrations, and other materials supplied by the clinician.

Furthermore, quality assurance procedures include reviews that follow each step completed during the fabrication process. A final review, usually conducted by using a checklist, occurs before returning the case to the dentist.

Following standardized quality assurance protocols for every case, every time, ensures consistent, reliable outcomes for every case that leaves the lab.

Bringing It All Together

It’s critical for an ethical, reliable dental laboratory to implement a vigorous quality assurance program.

Such a program should include:

  • a standardized protocol for quality assessment for both incoming and outgoing cases;
  • an honest assessment of any issues that arise;
  • a strategy for resolving those issues to ensure that those resolutions become a standard part of staff education;
  • and, the implementation of changes to minimize the recurrence of those same issues.

In addition to a case-specific quality assurance program, labs must also develop protocols and policies that meet standards of outside regulatory and accreditation agencies, such as the FDA, OSHA, and professional certification organizations.

At First Choice Dental Lab®, we take pride in the quality of our work and the skills of all our staff, from our entry-level model technicians, to our experienced lab directors.

Complete the form below today, or send us your case (it’s on us!)!

We’re more than just a dental lab – we’re here to help you give people a reason to smile!

How to Dentists Can Learn from Steve Jobs

Who was Steve Jobs? And what does he have to do with your dental office?

Steve Jobs was more than an entrepreneur and business owner. He was an innovator on multiple levels. He not only helped put personal computers in our homes but expanded on that with the iPad, iPhone and more. His company created both hardware and software and excelled at both. What is amazing about this feat is that Apple uses its own, non-windows operating system and its baseline computers are notoriously more expensive than entry-level Windows units. How all this happened is a testament to Steve Jobs and his creative vision.

But what does a computer geek have to do with a dental practice? Plenty! In fact, the wisdom of Steve Jobs, and innovators like him, can help just about anyone who is alive. The following list of 4 things are only a few of the dozens of priceless pearls of wisdom that Steve Jobs left to posterity.

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.

Steve Jobs not only demanded excellence from the people who worked for him, he demanded empathy for the customer. He was able to see what they needed even before they knew they had a need for it. The iPod, iPhone, and iPad were not only innovative but also intuitive in their design and in the software interface that made them work. Your dental office has an interface. Do your customers know how to use it? Are they comfortable with it? Is there a better way to make it. Put yourself in your patient’s shoes and see your office from their eyes.

Have a passion for what you do.

Passion keeps you going when all else seems to be going wrong. You have to love what you do. But this “passion” doesn’t have to be something that bites you. Every feeling you have is created by you. You can build passion where once it did not exist. It’s all a matter of finding the fun in what you do. When you find that spark of fun, build on it.

Fail forward.

In 1985, Steve Jobs was fired from the company he helped to build. Later, he would remark that his being fired was a good thing. It returned him to the freedom to innovate. It unburdened him to do things he had become cautious not to do. Our time in this world is limited. We need to remain fearless, but wise.

“I didn’t see it then,” Jobs told an audience of graduating students at Stanford University, in 2005, “but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

Redefine the game.

Every business has competition. The big winners don’t play against their competition at the competitor’s level of the game; instead, those winners redefine the game, leaving the competition in the dust.

When Steve Jobs was fired from his own company, he invested $5 million of his own money in a crazy idea called Pixar—the company which produced Toy Story for Disney and brought animation entertainment to a new level.

Bonus Idea: Hire only the best

Steve Jobs believed in giving more “bang for your buck,” as the saying goes. In the spirit of that wisdom, we couldn’t resist delivering a bonus idea. Jobs could not have done all that he did if he didn’t have a team of the best people surrounding him. He believed in not hiring Bozos—incompetent people who create more work than they accomplish. If you surround yourself with people smarter than yourself, they challenge you to do a better job, and they end up making your business thrive.

So, can you use any of these in your dental practice? If you don’t see immediate applicability, put these ideas on the back burner of your mind, and let them simmer awhile. Do it with an attitude Steve Jobs cultivated for himself—expect great things from yourself and from those around you.

Why Dental Equipment Maintenance Matters | Esthetrix

Dental equipment is the workhorse of the practice. Without it, dentists, dental nurses, and other dental professionals would be unable to carry out their work tasks.

Dental equipment represents a significant financial investment for most practices and if something goes wrong repairs or replacements can be costly. Many pieces of dental equipment are made up of minuscule parts forming complex and sensitive inner workings that can be damaged through age and constant use. Faulty equipment poses a potential danger for both the patient and the user; for this reason, as you could be inadvertently placing your patients at risk if you are not adhering to the manufacturer’s maintenance protocols, it is far better to prevent than to cure.

Suction equipment

To maximize the effectiveness and longevity of suction equipment follow the manufacturer’s care and maintenance instructions, effective cleaning products should be used for daily and weekly cleaning and most manufacturers will recommend that machines are annually serviced by a qualified technician.

Handpieces

Handpieces are technical and intricate pieces of equipment that need to be serviced and repaired by qualified technicians. Under no circumstances should a dentist ever service their handpieces themselves other than cleaning, lubrication, and sterilization. Contracts should be set up with the manufacturer’s approved/accredited engineers to ensure handpieces are serviced regularly and costly repair charges are avoided.

Electrical Equipment

Electrical equipment varies throughout each practice, but what can be said is its variety and complexity is growing constantly. The centerpiece of any practice is its dental unit, arguably the most critical piece of electronic equipment within dentistry. To avoid catastrophe it must be carefully serviced by specialist technicians, along with other pieces of electrical equipment, such as the radiography machine, and film processor which should also regularly have its chemicals changed.

Hand instruments

Most hand instruments require no other maintenance other than regular and effective cleaning. However, a regularly occurring issue faced by dentists is blunt instruments, which will require maintenance in addition to cleaning. For dental professionals to carry out procedures efficiently they will require a sharp instrument for precision, to decrease fatigue and generally speed up the process of the procedure.