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LMT took six impressions of the same prep and anonymously sent them to six different laboratories along with prescriptions for non-precious PFM crowns; one was made in the Philippines. In this ground-breaking experiment in 1985—with LMT Publisher Judy Fishman as the patient—we wanted to know: could a dentist tell the difference between the $35 crown and the $75 crown?
Among our panel of dentists, no one crown was rated head and shoulders above the rest. Although not uniform in their assessments, the dentists could not discern which was the most expensive and which was the least; in fact, several of them rated medium-priced crowns better than the higher-priced ones.
The Crown Experiment—an LMT tradition repeated three more times in our history—demonstrated that when dentists choose a laboratory, perception is as much a factor as the quality of the crown itself, proving the value of laboratory positioning and marketing.
In 2007, we kicked it up a notch and created The Crown Challenge, which invited readers to use a duplicate model to fabricate the same PFM unit as the one featured in LMT’s latest Crown Experiment. The response was overwhelming: 228 readers took us up on the challenge—LMT had to rent extra office space to accommodate the entries and the judging!—and a panel of evaluators chose sixteen finalists and four favorites based on a multitude of technical criteria.
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