Appreciating the Dental Laboratory Steps

In most dental schools, doing laboratory work for your prosthetic work is always part of the dental curriculum. This may include simple pouring of dental impressions, making custom trays and occlusal wax rims to more advanced steps such as diagnostic wax ups, casting your own framework as well as stacking porcelain in traditional prosthodontic training at the graduate level. However, the amount of exposure often differs amongst the different dental schools.

And sometimes, as a dental student, doing laboratory work may not be the most exciting and glorious part of the experience. Many might even feel that should be removed from the curriculum as many dentists do not even participate in laboratory work once they enter into private practice.

I came from a dental school and a graduate program where dental laboratory steps are not as heavily emphasized as other schools in North America. However, during my graduate training, I always made the effort of trying to participate in every laboratory step. For one I had to complete the steps as a requirement for being certified by the American Board. For another, I can appreciate the challenges that the dental technicians go through. I find the experience I developed really helps me understand the possible errors that can occur in making any type of prosthesis.

Even in the current digital era, I have picked up errors in the prosthesis that may not have been realized unless one has undergone through the tedious laboratory steps that are behind making the prosthesis.

I don’t have an in house lab nor do I do much laboratory work now, but I am glad that I have done enough laboratory work in the past to appreciate the problems that dental technicians often face and to allow me to evaluate the new technologies that are constantly coming out.