According to research, there are about 9 435 dental laboratories in the US as of 2021. With a promising growth of 1.5% in the same year, this industry makes a great opportunity for investors, dentists and patients alike. And if you are wondering how a single dental laboratory flourishes in the business sector, you should know the needles owners go through. Knowing the competitive number of how many dental labs in the U. S. are only one of the challenges they face.
Indeed, with the need for keen work in dental prosthetics, running a dental laboratory is tough. Not mentioning the high number of competitors, both local and abroad. The labs do not only strive to gain more dental clients but to build a reputable image themselves. Learn the functions of a dental laboratory and how it changes the world of dentistry and life of patients.
What Is A Dental Laboratory?
After knowing how many dental labs in the U. S. are there, you should also know how they play an important role in dentistry. Unlike the regular dental clinic, a dental laboratory does not have direct contact with the patients. In fact, each state in the United States deemed working with patients directly as an unlawful dental practice. Hence, dental lab techs do not gain much recognition from patients.
Dental lab techs or dental lab technicians are the people behind dental laboratories. And compared to a dentist, a dental technician takes a fewer number of years in education and focuses more on hands-on training. Products from a dental laboratory include dental prosthetics and devices essential in maintaining the oral health of patients. Based on the dentist’s treatment plan, dental technicians in a lab create and design these appliances.
Dental Laboratories In The U. S. At Present
Nowadays, it is common to find a dental lab in the United States that incorporates the work of machines and men. These dental equipment types incorporate top-notch and technology-assisted services to come up with quality devices at a shorter time. With an average annual salary of more than $30 000 for a technician, dental laboratories in the United States create an excellent career growth opportunity. Furthermore, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were more than 80 000 employment opportunities in dental laboratory companies alone last 2019. A certified dental lab technician could even own an office and supply dental care products themselves. This career structure for a dental technician paves for a good opportunity to partake in the market and business industry.
Dentists And Dental Laboratories Work Together For Patient Care
Whenever you need an immediate resolution to your missing or chipped tooth, you immediately go to a dental clinic. The dentist will examine, diagnose and plan for treatment. And whether you will need a brace, dental implants, or bridges, your dentist will call on the dental lab companies. Together with your mouth mold, they will send the descriptions and specifications of your case. The dental technicians will then produce the specified prosthetic. A technician also has an opportunity to specialize in a certain area, like a denturist.
With the exceptional impact of dental labs, every patient has the chance to recover their smile. Not only do dental techs strive for the appearance but the functionality of the prosthetic as well. This role of the laboratories proves its importance in the dental industry, especially in restorative care. Some of the products include dentures, crowns and veneers. Here are some prosthetics you should know about:
- Partial and Complete Dentures
Depending on your dentist’s prescription, dental laboratories will craft partial and complete dentures. Noting the size of your mouth and other details, labs ensure a fit closure and reliable frame retention of the dentures. This manner of restoration is not only popular and noninvasive but also comes cheap.
With options of metal porcelain, zirconium and plain porcelain, technicians also work in considering your preference. Through the note from your dentist, labs will work on the details and material of your choice. Although each option has its own advantage, porcelain comes as the most common material. This restorative work is also the most-sought procedure in the dental industry.
With almost the same function as crowns, bridges are also efficient in restoring tooth condition. The dentist will send your dental impression to the laboratories. The lab will then fabricate according to the specifications. Bridges also have different types for numerous dental conditions.
Although the lab may not get an actual look on your oral condition, they get to create natural-looking veneers through your dentist. Veneers are thin coverings for your teeth to restore or improve their shape, colour and appearance. With these features of veneers, patients have options to save their tooth before resorting to extraction.
What Is A Certified Dental Laboratory?
When you look for a dental laboratory in your state, you will encounter certified ones. This means that such a particular laboratory passed the high standards and qualifications for safety, quality, and manufacturing practices. With this certification, you can expect that you got the best dental craftsmanship not just in your area, but in the whole country. This certification also makes it possible for the lab even to have further recognition from national bodies. This includes the National Association of Dental Laboratories (NADL), the American Dental Association (ADA) and the American College of Prosthodontists (ACP). These recognitions are also offered in different manufacturing areas, including full dentures, partial dentures, ceramics, and orthodontics.
One important criterion to become a certified dental laboratory is to have at least one certified dental technician (CDT) on board. To maintain the recognition, the lab should also annually renew and provide a report for changes.
Dental Laboratories In The Economic Perspective
Only a few people know that dental laboratories play a major role in the market. In the United States alone, the sales for dental laboratories was estimated at approximately $8.8 billion in 2020. After all, dental hygiene and wellness is one factor that affects a person’s quality of life. Indeed, many find an incomplete set of teeth embarrassing. This dilemma does not only affect a person’s appearance but their self-esteem as well. Hence, there is a growing demand for full and comprehensive dental services across the country. Among the resolutions is providing long-lasting and lifetime answers to teeth problems.
However, few people partake in dental technology practice even with the decent average salary in a year. And dentists tend to establish their own private laboratories while hiring only a few technicians. Sales are even getting lower with offshore sourcing for dental prostheses. Foreign countries like China receive dental prescriptions from clients and readily send a finished product back. This effect in the economy incurs a loss of $1.32 billion as reported from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data. With almost 1 500 technicians in a single factory, dentures and bridges are easily mass-produced in these countries. And even when these foreign products could be way cheaper, they do not maintain the same standards. Besides, when it comes to the dental setting, every person is unique. Hence, specifications and important details may easily be missed when opting offshore.
Dental Labs And Technology Trends
As mentioned, it needs close precision and accuracy in making bridges, crowns and other appliance for dental restorations. While single-handedly working on the mold will ensure these, it is tedious for the technicians. Thus, the development in technology has given a new means to the dentists and techs. Not only do these new tools and materials improve communication between the parties but also in crafting dental devices.
- Computer-aided Design/Computer-aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) Dentistry
Companies and laboratories with advanced machines take a significant part in this new field in dentistry. These computer-aided techniques pave for better results when crafting dental prosthetics. Aside from fast production and design, CAD/CAM also makes restoration devices simple and convenient. With the computer working hand in hand with the labs, difficult restorations and appliances even become feasible. And through the use of state-of-the-art machines, CAD/CAM creates a name in the market through affordable and aesthetic prosthetics.
- 3D Printing In The Dental Industry
Indeed, the applications of 3D printers are limitless. From aerospace to engineering, it serves a great purpose and function. And dental laboratories are no different. 3D printing is a manufacturing approach that involves building objects one layer at a time. In combination with CAD/CAM technology, creating perfect fitting prosthetics in the lab becomes effortless. Developing fabrication and frameworks for implants, dental restoration structure and physical models for dental surgery are only a few of the applications of 3D printing in dentistry.
Concluding How Many Dental Labs In The US
Each dental lab plays a crucial role in creating and restoring the smile of patients. And even with the crafty and meticulous work, technicians make restorations possible. Although each association and bureau struggle to make the dental market balanced, offshore sales are inevitable. Besides, statistics report a decreasing number of dental practitioners partnering with a lab or technician. With the entry of these foreign companies in the market, each laboratory becomes greatly affected in the United States. However, no matter how low-priced these foreign products are, they will never tie up to the country’s top-tier manufacturing and professional production. Perhaps, recognition, appreciation and making laboratory technicians known are efficient solutions to this decline of production in local prosthetics.