Working with Dental Labs: Key Communication Technologies

In 2006, a research article found that communication between dental laboratories and dentists was inadequate and hampered fabrication (Afsharzand,  Rashedi & Petropoulos). In 2008, the ADA found that eighty-seven percent of dentists returned dental work to a laboratory because it was not correct (Soderlund, 2010). As implants rise in popularity, in part due to the aging US population, the need for streamlined communication with dental labs has become more important. Being able to track the final package through USPS can be much more sophisticated than communication between a dentist and a dental laboratory! The need for accurate communication tools, particularly about color, shading, face-bow and other aesthetic information has been highlighted before (i.e., Hermanides, 2013; Emmott, 2013).

Furthermore, with HIPAA and other security regulations, the need to securely communicate with dental labs has come into the spotlight. Reducing errors and increasing compliance is something that necessitates strong communication.

A few companies have seen this problem and stepped up to fill the technology gap. Brightsquid is one such company, offering secure, HIPAA-compliant image transfer and laboratory dashboards to monitor the status and communication. By creating a single repository for correspondence, images, and orders, communication is streamlined. Brightsquid has a unique Image Studio where dentists and labs can view, annotate and manipulate files such as STL (3d), JPEG, PNG and DICOM studies. Labs can also use the Image Studio to send dentists 3D models of their case for approval before they send it out to the dentist. Brightsquid Dental Link centralizes communication and ensures that everyone stays informed to reduce errors while working with the same data.

Lessons Learned:

  • Errors and communication problems have been a difficult component for dentists and dental laboratories.
  • Accuracy of images, shading and fit is critical for successful dental implant manufacture.
  • Online, HIPAA-compliant communication is possible through companies like Brightsquid, and can reduce errors and streamline communication.

References:

Afsharzand, Z., Rashedi, B. & Petropoulos, V.C. (2006) Dentist communication with the dental laboratory for prosthodontic treatment using implants. Journal of Prosthodontics, May-Jun 15(3): 202-207.

Emmott, Larry. (2013) Emmott On Technology: The Digital Future of Dental Lab Communications. Dental Compare, August 29. Last Accessed 10/22/2013: http://www.dentalcompare.com/Featured-Articles/143560-Emmott-On-Technology-The-Digital-Future-of-Dental-Lab-Communications/

Hermanides, Leon. (2013) Dental Laboratory Communication in the Esthetic Age.  Inside Dental Technology, June. Last Accessed 10/22/2013: http://www.proteadental.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Dental-Laboratory-Communication-in-the-Esthetic-Age.pdf

Soderlund, Kelly. (2010) Dental lab issues on radar. ADA News, September.