Choosing a suitable dental laboratory is crucial for the success of your dental practice. When you find a dental lab that understands your requirements, your practice runs more smoothly because you know you will receive high-quality restorations on time. One vital decision is whether to use a local dental laboratory or to choose a national lab. We’ve looked at the potential benefits and pitfalls of each choice.
Local dental labs may have a more limited choice of materials to choose from. It can be easier to rely on tried and tested materials rather than exploring newer, potentially better, and more advanced materials that may require staff training and more elaborate equipment to process correctly.
In contrast, national dental labs have the resources to investigate and stock a more comprehensive range of dental materials. It is also easier and more practical to train staff to use these materials appropriately and to invest in any newer technology required to utilize them. Here at DDS Lab, our staff is trained and experienced in using the highest quality materials, and we consistently evaluate new products as they are introduced onto the market.
Smaller, local dental laboratories tend to specialize in a particular field such as crown and bridge, orthodontics, or dentures. Often, a clinician will need to use several local dental labs to cover all their practice needs. It can be more time-consuming and may cause confusion amongst staff members as to which job is meant to go where. Chasing up work can be a trial. National dental labs are more able to offer a greater range of services, and DDS Lab offers every service your practice is likely to require.
High Order Volume
Dental practices are often busier at certain times of the year, and smaller dental labs may struggle to handle a higher volume of case orders comfortably. National dental labs have a greater capacity to accommodate more work without compromising delivery times or quality. DDS Lab is large enough to handle high volume case orders, ensuring high-quality work is consistently delivered on time.
FDA approval isn’t required for many activities in dental labs so smaller dental labs might not require FDA approval. Because of the comprehensive choice of products offered by larger dental labs, FDA approval is usually needed, and national dental laboratories are fully informed about FDA regulations to ensure they remain compliant.
Local labs are more likely to charge more for their services, but shipping costs are typically lower or not applicable. National dental labs can often offer more competitive pricing, but shipping costs will be higher in most cases.
Local dental labs may not have the time or resources to carry out quality inspections of dental impressions submitted and work completed for clinicians. National dental labs have strict procedures in place for evaluating the quality of dental impressions and completed work ready to send back to clinicians. At DDS Lab, our impression grading system ensures only decent quality impressions are accepted, and every piece of work is assessed by our quality control team before it is sent to the client.
Most dental labs have some form of warranty or remake policy in place. In local labs, this policy can vary whereas it is more likely to be clearly defined at national dental labs.
Local labs offer the advantage of faster turnaround times, often needing just five days to complete work that is picked up and delivered locally. National labs require longer turnaround times - mostly due to shipping times. Although it depends on the product you are ordering, you can expect your casework to be returned from DDS Lab in 1-2 days less than the national average.
When you work with local dental labs, you have probably met the owner and key staff members and can rely on excellent communication. National dental labs still offer a good level of communication, but you may end up discussing your case with different people. At DDS Lab, we know it is far preferable to have a dedicated account manager. This will be a person who knows your preferences and is readily available to help you.
Only a few national or local dental laboratories offer the convenience of a mobile app and the ability to submit prescriptions online. Meanwhile, the use of digital technology, including digital impressions, is increasing rapidly. This is why DDS Dental Lab has invested in a mobile app that allows you to track and manage your cases, from start to finish. Track the progress of each case and access vital information at any time - and from whatever location - it is convenient. You can even submit photos through the app.
Seasonal and Vacation Availability
Many dental labs will close completely during the holidays or have more limited services due to staff vacations. DDS Lab is large enough to provide seasonal and vacation availability, so when your current lab is struggling to cope, we will still be offering the same reliable services as always.
One factor you can always rely on, regardless of where you send your work, is excellent disinfection protocols. All local and national labs follow strict guidelines to ensure staff and patients remain safe.
Local or National - Which is Better for Your Patients?
Most people naturally wish to support their local businesses, but this isn’t always an optimal approach, especially when you are running a busy dental practice. A small, locally run dental lab is extremely unlikely to have the same level of resources available compared with a national laboratory. Of course, one of the advantages of local labs is their faster turnaround times. At DDS Lab, logistics dictate our turnaround times; for this reason, we are careful to provide you with reliable delivery dates.
Another appeal of local labs lies in excellent communication with clients. By choosing the right national lab you can still have excellent communication. DDS Lab provides every client with a dedicated account manager. In addition, we have a team of highly experienced technicians available to discuss even the most complicated cases.