How you can improve your success rate

14 October, 2010 / Infocus

The relationship between dental technician and dentist can sometimes be taken for granted, but by improving communication, co-operation and teamwork, you can significantly improve your success rate.

In recent years, increasing focus on patient protection and registration of the whole dental team has opened up many additional responsibilities for dental technicians.

However, quality starts with you, the dentist. Your patients only want your best work, so surely the best way to give your patients what they were promised is to really work together with your technicians to improve their results.

You can only build a sustainable practice by creating genuine word of mouth referrals. If you’re thinking of cutting your prices or if you have to constantly search for new business, you’ll never be at peace and you’ll probably burn out.

We all suffer from some degree of performance lag – the difference between the exceptional services we want to provide on a daily basis, and how it really is. If you cut every corner it will be even harder to provide the service you really want to provide. So we would all benefit if we worked as a team to improve our services and success.

I have chosen to highlight some of the main things that technicians need from their client dentists to delight their patients because these are the points that matter the most. If we could pin them all down it would greatly improve our success rate. Examples of your best work, so to speak.

Accurate impressions in metal or custom full arch trays as standard

You need to understand why poor impressions and flimsy trays cause many of your occlusal problems. You need to recognise often subtle, but important, features in impressions that create problems with the fit of your work, or which indicate a retake. When you’ve had a bad day, the lab needs to phone you and let you know.

Meaningful and accurate occlusal records

When the occlusion is unstable, you need to know how to provide us with accurate and stabilising occlusal records. You need to know when a facebow record is advisable and when a centric-relation record is a necessity. We need to agree the protocols when reorganising the occlusion or raising the OVD.

Surgery and lab stage protocols

Surgery and lab stage protocols need to be understood by the whole team and knowledge transferred accurately every time. The big cases are your opportunity to delight your patients and generate genuine word of mouth referrals. However, if they are a disaster, they have the potential to destroy your confidence and reputation.

Shade matching and smile design

When expectations are high, you really need to up your game and it all takes time. You need to understand the science behind a beautiful smile and you need to understand materials and prep design so we can give you our most aesthetic products that last. When you provide us with your best work, we should give you ours.

We should consistently provide you with:

1 Restorations that fit as well in the mouth as they do on working casts With accurate dies, our scanners and milling machines can create the most perfect fitting crowns and bridges we have ever produced.

2 Restorations that fit comfortably within the occlusal scheme with the very minimum of adjustment We fully understand occlusion and, with accurate records, we’ll mount your casts and return your cases equilibrated every time they require it.

3 Complex works completed exactly the way you expect them to be The most successful dentists plan their bigger cases better than the others plan theirs, and they work closer with the technicians at the lab.

4 Your technician should provide custom shade matching at the lab to reinforce your commitment to quality We can all take a shade – matching a shade is our goal. Shades in the aesthetic zone can be demanding, especially matching an upper central incisor. Ceramists really need to see their work in the mouth to truly appreciate the demands that are placed upon them.

So how’s your success rate?

You’ve probably created the reputation you deserve; we all have. Do your past clients always tell their friends about how you created their beautiful smile? On average, your success rate for non-complex restorative work from the lab should be at least 95 per cent.

On complex or private work, 90 per cent could be more realistic as you take on the more demanding cases and your patients expect more attention to detail. Incorporating verification stages in complex cases keeps you in control and improves your success rate. Your lab should be able to advise you what your success rate is, and how to improve it.

We could all do better and there is so much to learn. I would encourage any dentists seeing gaps appearing in their books to use the spare time wisely and seek training with their team. Technicians love to see their cases succeed just as much as you do and they want to improve their success rate too.

About the author

Jim Mason is a partner of Lincoln Ceramics cosmetic and dental implant lab in Glasgow. He has a passion for learning alongside dentists for the benefit of their patients.

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