Communication is key – Steve Campbell

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  Posted by: Dental Design      7th April 2018

Dentistry is a rapidly evolving profession. As patients have developed greater demands and expectations of dental care, positive, interactive relationships between dentists and dental technicians are required in order to achieve successful outcomes. This connection is not only vital for an efficient workflow, but also for making sure patients receive the very best treatment. The key to any good technician-practitioner relationship is through open communication and mutual respect for the knowledge and skills each individual retains. It is easy to become absorbed by the technical advances or techniques, but I have always found that the most successful teams have great communication at the core of all that they do.

Developing a good technician-practitioner relationship is critical because quite a lot of mistakes or poor outcomes are the result of crossed wires, or because there is not enough information shared between the practitioner and the technician. If the surgery provides as much information as possible, it helps the laboratory to make the right decisions in the production of a case. It is also essential that the lab provides adequate information and images back to the surgery where a necessary change in restorative material could have a negative impact on the patient’s satisfaction. If the dental team get this wrong, then the unfortunate outcome is that a patient has to go through the stress of preparing for a dental appointment, only to find that they cannot leave the practice that day with their treatment complete.

One of the main factors behind building a good relationship with the lab is to maintain regular contact. Feedback is essential in order to improve the patient experience and chances of success. During this process, you build a better working relationship with the laboratory which, in turn, increases the likelihood of a successful result on a case. Many of the issues that arise from dental restorations can simply come down to either technician or practitioner not picking up the phone, or writing an email.

It is important that practitioners understand that technicians can be important resources in the area of material selection and aesthetic outcomes. Technicians should be involved from the very beginning of the treatment planning process, while practitioners should be open to suggestions for material selection, preparation design, as well as critiques of the prepared case and impressions. When both technician and practitioner work in tandem, better results can be yielded for patients.

Providing initial photographs is an essential aspect of this process. I cannot stress enough how much these photographs help the lab to understand the challenges of a case. Providing review photographs once a case reaches completion is also crucial. These photographs are so rare, but so very valuable to any technician. The patient may be happy, the practitioner may be happy, but sometimes the technician will notice something that they realise could be improved upon in future cases, with a slight change in technique or material. Over time, these gradual alterations would continue to improve the standards of the work you receive back.

Additionally, good teamwork between the practice and the lab can enhance patient care and streamline workflow. There have been many cases, for instance, where we could have potentially wasted a lot of surgery time and caused an inconvenience to the patient because the prescription could have been interpreted in several different ways. However, when these prescriptions are accompanied by photographs, there is always a better indication of what is required – especially on all ceramic cases where the preparation shade can easily affect the final aesthetic result.

I think what makes my collaboration with Ten Dental so effective is that it is among those surgeries that utilises all communication tools at its disposal, pushing the boundaries of digital workflow. Ten Dental dedicates a lot of time to discussing and developing case plans together with the lab team. This early inclusion allows us to highlight as many restorative solutions as possible. 

Practices have so many updates and surgical considerations to take care of, that it can also be difficult to keep on top of the advances in materials and techniques becoming available to the profession. By working closely with the lab and maintaining a regular flow of information, both sides of the dental and surgical team can be kept up to date on the opportunities and challenges that they each overcome together. This ensures that patients continue to get the very best in care and quality in regards to their dental restorations.


For more information visit www.tendental.comor call on 020 33932623


Steve is a registered dental technician at Nexus Dental, and work as part of a small skilled team providing solutions for all aspects of restorative dentistry, with a depth of experience in restoring implant cases in both analogue and digital workflows. He has lectured on digital implant solutions throughout the UK and Europe focusing on the benefits of Digital Workflow for the Dental Team. Steve also writes articles for online publications both in the UK and USA , and has had articles published in Implant Dentistry Today, the EDi Journal and other printed publications.

Past Technical representative for the ADi 

President of the Dental Laboratories Association

Managing Director at Nexus Dental


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