In the first segment of this series Rob Maatta of Gold Dust Dental Lab and I answered the question “are there any key things you can suggest to dentists to improve the quality of their lab processed restorations?” Our answers ranged from creating and communicating clear expectations, a commitment to education on the side of both the dentist and the laboratory and gaining an understanding of what the process looks like from the other side. For the ceramist this means spending time around live patient care and getting to see first hand what we deal with as dentist working int he oral environment. As the dentist we need to take time and sit bench-side with our ceramist and gain an appreciation for how complex the laboratory process is, and how challenging it is to work where you have to imagine how what you are making will fit into the whole.
Underlying both of our responses were words like collaboration and understanding, the cornerstone of both is having a relationship. So I thought it only appropriate that in this segment we discuss the key word in the title of the series.
- Rob, What defines a great working relationship between dentist and technician (laboratory)?
Rob – The best relationships are just that…. a relationship. It requires great communication, opportunity to collaborate and a common value system. I believe the lab’s role is to work in concert with the clinician to meet and exceed a patients expectations. In order to do that, it requires an open dialogue to anticipate potential challenges and solve problems dynamically. At Gold Dust, we tend to work with clients that we consider close friends because our relationship has grown into that over the years just by nature of working toward a patients goal. We are committed to the success of their cases and they know and feel that.
2. Lee, How do you create a great working relationship between dentist and technician (laboratory)?
Lee– One of the first things I think it’s important to address is that all relationships develop and deepen over time. It’s also critical to remember that all great relationships required lots of investment on the part of both people. A starting point is to make sure that you agree on some fundamentals key to a successful working relationship. One of my favorite questions to ask is “What do you need from me to do your best work?” This question can be answered in both directions and is a way to set some very specific expectations of one another. Expectations are fundamental, as when they aren’t met the result is upset and frustration. One of the biggest reasons expectations can’t be met is that we never communicate them and give the other person a chance to know what we are looking for. Get together in person if you can, or set aside some time for a phone call and talk through logistics like how you will communicate, what will happen if the lab needs more information, what your expectations are for return times. Other topics seem obvious, but aren’t like interproximal contacts, occlusal contacts, reduction copings and others. The next step is to keep the communication channels open and take opportunities to talk and grow together and adjust and tweek the expectations over time. A perfect opportunity to do this is to call and discuss cases before they happen. Treatment planning conversations, and collaborating ahead of time has helped me get to know so much about the people I work with at Gold Dust, in a non-stressful and non-confrontational way instead of waiting to talk until there is something that isn’t perfect. The last thing that I have done over the years is to make sure that we celebrate the successes together. I send post-op photos to the lab, and call and let them know when something is phenomenal, or I really love what they did with the incisal translucency, or the line angles of a single central. Not only does this deepen our relationship, but it’s FUN!!