What Goes on in a Dental Lab?

Most people never think about science labs past high school. Sure, scientists do but unless it’s your 9-5 job, labs are most likely not a concern for you during your daily life. But the truth is that we buy and sell products every day that are made in specially designed laboratories by highly trained technicians. One of the most interesting of these labs… dental.

Do you ever wonder where dentures, oral prosthetics, and retainers come from? Where are these important dental devices made?  Why, in a dental laboratory of course!

Most dental labs are a specific kind of healthcare lab that are independently owned and operated by experienced lab technicians in the healthcare field. However, some are directly associated with an individual dentist or group of dentists.  Each lab employs a team of accredited technicians to manufacture an assortment of dental appliances to aid dentists in providing quality care to patients. Some of these dental appliances include:

1.      Dentures for patients who need a full set of manufactured teeth
2.      Partial dentures for patients who are missing a small number of teeth
3.      Crowns, which are placed over weak or damaged teeth for protection from further damage
4.      Orthodontics to help straighten and control misaligned or crooked teeth
5.      Dental veneers, which are made of a thin material to cover teeth to improve the appearance of a patient’s teeth

Dentists order new dental appliances for patients using prescriptions. Upon receiving a new prescription, lab technicians employ a vast array of high-tech tools to design, produce, modify, and repair dental devices. Some of these tools include: dental kilns, buffing wheels, porcelain furnaces, pressure molding devices, dental articulators, and all sorts of laboratory furniture.

When manufacturing a new dental appliance, technicians begin by generating a graphical model of the patient’s mouth using computer software. Once the graphical model is complete, the technicians create a physical model of the patient’s mouth by using a plaster impression. Lab technicians then use the physical model to fabricate and test the new dental appliance to ensure a comfortable fit for the patient. After passing a series of quality control tests, the new appliance is ready to be used.

Dental labs are crucial to the dental industry because when it comes to teeth, one size does not fit all. And because of this, dental laboratories are indeed the backbone of the dental industry.