A dental student graduating in the late 1800s and early 1900s was taught to make his own restorations (gold) and removable (early acrylic) appliances.
In his practice he treated his patients in part of his day, and then fabricated restorations and appliances in the rest of his day. He just thought that was how things worked.
Somewhere in the early nineteen-hundreds a light bulb came on in someone’s brain. It is not known if a dentist decided to hire someone to do his restorations or if someone decided to start the career of a dental technician. But no matter how it very first happened, the fact is that as soon as dentists saw the value of having a commercial laboratory everything changed.
Commercial laboratories were springing up all over the country. The simple reason is that a dentist could make much more money in his day if he just saw and treated patients. The dentist left the job of fabricating restorations and appliances to a technician. In a very short time a dental technician became much more proficient at making these restorations then a dentist could ever hope to be.
The reason is simple, it is because dental technicians were making thousands of restorations and a dentist would just make a few restorations. Commercial laboratories got together and shared knowledge and techniques and materials and became even more proficient and offered super high quality, and fast service.
As an added bonus to the dental community, the manufacturers and suppliers and laboratories came up with new and better techniques and materials and restorative brilliance. They made a few small mistakes along the way but mostly their track record was flawless. Restorations became stronger and more lifelike.
The dental public demanded more esthetics and longevity and the laboratory community responded.
Commercial Laboratories have always responded to the call that the dental public was requesting. When dentists needed more help chair side to present cases or retro fit appliances or just custom shading, a technician was there at his beck and call.
The value of an experienced technician in comprehensive treatment planning can not be stressed enough.
In the past few years, a few dentists have forgotten about the success of team work and the value of a good commercial laboratory.
These few dentists have decided to go back 75 years and start doing their own laboratory work again. Mostly because of slick advertising and hard-working salesmen. They have been sold on buying miniature laboratories – put in their dental office. These laboratories are definitely not as good as a commercial laboratory. Yet, somehow they were convinced that the machine that costs over $100,000 will help them profit more.
Even when there has to be someone in their office being the dental technician. The dentist has opted to cut the commercial laboratory out of the equation. The only redeeming value is that they can make a crown within a couple of hours. But the fact is, that crown is not as esthetic or as strong as a crown produced by a laboratory.
The fact is that it is a small percentage of dentists that have actually bought into an in-office milling laboratory.
Dosn’t it seem like they are taking a step backwards in the progression of dentistry?