Welcome to The BRIDGE, the social and information hub of the dental lab industry. Connect with industry peers and vendors, ask questions, sign up for events, review products, read LMT articles and industry news and more!
LMT’s 2014 Fee Survey respondents offer a mixed picture of their sales and profitability. On one hand, laboratory sales seem to be slowly improving. Profits, though, seem to be lagging behind.
Read More 4 minute read
A 2014 Fee Survey participant from the Midwest—who prefers to remain anonymous—offers a thoughtful take on how the rampant price competition on full contour zirconia restorations is negatively affecting the bottom line of many laboratories. Here’s what he had to say:
In the early 1980s, the price of gold skyrocketed and non-precious alloy showed up on the scene. Since it was a cheap metal, most labs didn’t even add the cost of the metal into the crown fee. However, they weren’t thinking about the revenue they had been making on gold alloys—or about the...
Read More 2 minute read
Tra’ Chambers had no actual laboratory experience when he opened Express Dental Laboratory in Norman, OK in December 2012. Harnessing the efficiency of CAD/CAM technology, the lab touts a two- to three-day turnaround (or same-day for its mobile service) and generated over $300,000 in revenue during its first full year in business. Now, with a staff of seven, the lab serves 118 clients and 45% of its work is completely digital. Here’s more about the lab’s growth strategies:
LMT: What made you decide to open Express Dental Laboratory without any prior laboratory experience?
Read More 4 minute read
Owner: Dr. Dick Barnes
With more than 200 employees, it’s no easy feat to get everyone focused on the same goal. But at Arrowhead Dental Laboratory in Sandy, UT, a singular mission gives meaning to the work day: helping customers become better, more productive dentists.
“Dr. Barnes emphasizes building relationships first and building the business second; that’s really become our culture here,” says Peggy Nelson, the lab’s Director of Business Development. “In fact, the bond between the people who work here and our customers is what makes...
Owner: Benjamin Hart
A 50” HD TV. Ping-Pong tables. Sony PlayStation. Workout equipment. These are just a few of the amenities with which Owner Benjamin Hart has equipped the third-floor of Custom Arts Dental Lab.
Designed as a recreational area for employees, the upstairs also includes a full kitchen, laundry area, and adjoining deck with patio furniture and large gas grill. After all, Hart believes his staff is his family, and when a family gets together, it should always feel right at home.
Hart’s efforts, though, aren’t restricted to the third floor....
Owner: Dr. James Hartzel, CDT, and Edwin Fajardo
“One day, we knew we weren’t going to make the shipping deadline for a case for one of our larger accounts on the East Coast. But we also knew we weren’t going to let that client down. The case was finished at 8:00pm and I was at the airport within an hour; 12 hours, four flights, two cab rides and a bunch of protein bars later, I was delivering that case to the dental office as the patient was walking in.
To me, my travel experience speaks volumes about the culture of this laboratory: we will always...
Headquartered in Ottawa, IL
Owners: Luke Caruso Sr., Luke Caruso Jr. and Jim Caruso
130 employees across three locations
If you’re at an industry meeting and meet a group of people with blinking lights on their shoes, chances are they work at Ottawa Dental Laboratory (ODL).
That blinking light would be an Actiped pedometer, a component of the laboratory’s comprehensive wellness program, which earned ODL recognition as one of the 100 Healthiest Workplaces in America for 2014, as well as the Healthiest Employer in Illinois for 2012 and 2013.
In 2004—after a string of double-digit...
Headquartered in Seneca Falls, NY
Owner: Bruce Bonafiglia, CDT
200 employees across three locations
Striking a work-life balance is a constant challenge for many of us. How can I squeeze in a workout? Who will watch the kids? When will I fit in a haircut or get the laundry done? And what’s for dinner tonight? If you work at BonaDent, all of those answers can be found within the four walls of its new, state-of-the-art facility in Seneca Falls, NY.
BonaDent’s unique amenities truly make employees feel valued and taken care of: the in-house fitness center, onsite daycare, comprehensive...
Owners: Randy & Daxton Grubb
When Daxton Grubb joined his father Randy’s laboratory in 2002 after working at a Fortune 500 company, he had already learned a thing or two about employee motivation. “The company set unrealistic goals and only managers were rewarded for good performance. I was determined not to make the same mistake here,” says Grubb.
While 20 to 30% of R-Dent’s managers’ compensation is based on their department’s net profit, Daxton also has sales and incentive programs for all employees. First, there are monthly incentives:...
Since their introduction in the 1950s, PFM restorations have been the bread-and-butter of C&B and most full service laboratories. In fact, as recently as 2005, only 17% of C&B workloads were metal-free. However, with the proliferation of metal-free materials and technologies, we’re nearing the tipping point: 45% of C&B workloads are now comprised of metal-free restorations, according to LMT’s 2013 Porcelain Survey.
In 2010, the NADL’s analysis of the new healthcare legislation revealed that a 2.3% excise tax would be applicable to the selling price of completed dental restorations beginning in 2013.
Vague terminology in the legislation indicated that the 2.3% tax would be payable by the manufacturer, producer or importer but didn’t specifically define those terms. Given the FDA’s previous classification of dental laboratories as medical device manufacturers, the conclusion was that the tax would apply.
The news generated a growing alarm over the next several months as laboratory owners sought...
The full contour zirconia trend began in 2009, with the launch of Glidewell’s BruxZir® Solid Zirconia crowns and bridges, marketed as a “virtually unbreakable” option for bruxers and grinders. Other manufacturers began to follow suit and introduce their own solid zirconia options and “Full Z” has become the fastest growing restoration in laboratories across the country.
The restorations allow laboratories to offer a lower-cost solution, and the labor-saving digital process ensures better fits and fewer remakes. There remains concern among some laboratory owners...
On the heels of widespread media attention about offshore crowns containing lead, two bills that required laboratories to spell out the origin and content of dental restorations passed in 2008: one in Florida and one in South Carolina. Although both bills only required the lab to provide the information to the dentist—and not for the dentist to pass the information onto the patient—supporters felt it was a step in the right direction because the information would be placed in the patient’s file and would provide a mechanism for traceability.
Illinois, Ohio and Minnesota have also...
Foreign Dental Work Put to Test, an investigative report about lead found in restorations made in China was the talk of the industry when it aired in February 2008 on Ohio’s WBNS 10TV. The story covered an Ohio woman who had experienced pain and infection in her jaw after her dentist placed an ill-fitting, three-unit PFM bridge the previous year. After learning the bridge was made in China, she had the bridge removed and tested for hazardous materials, and lead (160ppm) was found in the restoration.
In addition, the TV station ordered eight PFM crowns from four labs in China and also had...
The buzz at the Dental Laboratory Owners Association of California’s CAD/CAM Symposium in November 2005: rapid prototyping technology. First developed in the 1980s and used in the automotive and aerospace industries, the technology had laboratory owners enthusiastic about what was called the “next generation of CAD/CAM.” Advocates said the additive technology would result in increased efficiency and less material waste.
Those forecasts were spot on. The technology continues to revolutionize the way laboratories fabricate waxups and metal restorations. And, like CAD/CAM, it’s...
Thanks to its physical properties, esthetics and ease of use, Ivoclar Vivadent’s IPS e.max—the first lithium disilicate on the market—penetrated the marketplace with unprecedented speed. Introduced in 2005, an estimated 75 million IPS e.max restorations have been fabricated worldwide. Also a contributing factor to the product’s success: the company’s strong marketing efforts to create brand awareness among laboratories, dentists and patients alike.
“We had success with IPS e.max right from the start,” said Charlie Fager, BS, CDT, Owner, Fager Dental Laboratory,...
Historically, the FDA—long involved in overseeing the manufacturers of dental laboratory materials—paid minimal attention to dental laboratories. In 2004, due to the dramatic rise in imports from overseas laboratories, that changed. Concerned that these restorations might not contain FDA-approved materials, the FDA started taking a closer look at foreign laboratories and consequently, the domestic operations that imported cases from them. Several laboratories reported random inspections and, later that year, the FDA invited the NADL to a meeting to discuss its concerns about public...
Laboratories—most notably Glidewell Laboratories—have long dabbled in the manufacturer/supplier realm. But in the past 15 years, digital technology has been driving a role reversal as manufacturers/suppliers have begun stepping into the laboratory’s shoes.
Nobel Biocare was the first in the late 90s; now, there are more than a dozen manufacturer/suppliers that offer design and milling services for their laboratory customers. While some laboratory owners are concerned their suppliers are becoming their competitors, others aren’t bothered by the trend if the manufacturers...
In the early 1980s, industry forecasters predicted a boon in implant placement, a prediction that was premature for a market still in its infancy. Inadequate education, inconsistent techniques and unpredictable results contributed to resistance on the part of many dentists and laboratories.
However, by the time we entered the new millennium, implant treatment became the first choice in tooth replacement thanks to technical advancements, long-term success rates, and the abundance of manufacturer-provided education.
The advent of CAD/CAM and cone beam technology further impacted the precision of...
Computer systems across the globe were at risk of failing after midnight, December 31, 1999 thanks to the “Millennium Bug.” For decades prior to 2000, computer software had been designed with a two-digit year code—“98” for 1998, for example—and the fear was that when computers’ internal clocks changed to “00” the computers wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between the year 2000 and the year 1900.
Like business owners everywhere, some laboratory owners were concerned by what the “mother of all computer glitches,” would...
After years of speculation, CAD/CAM came to fruition in the dental laboratory in 1998 with the official U.S. launch of the Procera® AllCeram Crown, featuring an aluminum oxide coping milled at Nobel Biocare’s production facility in Sweden. The success of Procera—and the introduction of a dozen new in-lab milling systems in the early 2000s—fueled intense interest among laboratory owners and made CAD/CAM the hot topic for the unforeseeable future.
The automated manufacturing process afforded an efficient, consistent method of production and also opened the door to using zirconia,...
Already widely used in European dental laboratories as well as in other industries, it wasn’t until around 1994 that laser welding took root in the U.S. laboratory market when American Recovery, Dentaurum and Tanaka Dental all introduced laser welding units. A key benefit was the stronger connections; a 1991 study published in Quintessence found the connections to be 266% stronger than solder, 43% stronger than microplasma welds and 95% as strong as the original alloy.
Because the laser focuses a beam that melts and welds a very small area of metal, laser welders also brought a higher level...
In its infancy, laboratory owners didn’t immediately see the internet’s application to their business. However, in the past 15 years, the number of laboratories with internet access has tripled, with 88% of U.S. laboratories LMT surveyed now having online capability. The ability to transmit data over the internet is fueling the growth of milling centers and subcontracting businesses. Emailing questions, case considerations and photos with clients has become the norm. And the opportunity for far-reaching promotion has prompted more than 40% of laboratories to market their nother third...
Invented by Dr. Itzhak Shoher and Aharon Whiteman, CDT, first-generation Captek™ was introduced to the international dental community in 1993. The unique capillary technology took the PFM world by storm because it produced a high noble metal coping right on the refractory die without casting. Dentists and technicians alike were taken by its resulting thin, gold-colored copings and ability to maximize soft tissue health; Captek remains an ideal option for patients with any type of predisposition to caries or perio concerns.
In 2007, Captek Nano™—stronger and thinner than the original...