Championship communication with your dental lab: Part I

Comparing dental practice and dental lab communication to football makes sense in this article from Dr. David Rice.

Nfl Game Day

Editor’s note: The relationship between dental practices and dental labs have a lot more in common with football than you may realize. Here is Dr. David Rice’s perspective on how to make the relationship between the practice and dental lab more successful and less stressful.

It’s October, and if you’re anything like me, October translates to Saturday Game Day. College football teams take the field, and everyone’s alma mater has a shot at a victory. That got me thinking. In dentistry, how do we give ourselves that same shot? How do we win the championship?

Nfl Game DayIn my 20 years of clinical practice, I’ve learned that championship teams are championship communicators. Dental practice first downs, just like on the football field, come a yard at a time. When we communicate well with our patients, we win. When we communicate well with our assistants, hygienists, and front office team, we win.

Now let me ask you this. On game day in dentistry, in the cases that matter, who’s your kicker – whose foot often decides the game? You guessed it – your dental lab. So if championship teams need great kickers, how do dentists ensure they have the right players and the right formation so they can score when they need it most?

The playbook
There are three major aspects to game day success – defense, offense, and special teams. In this article I will tackle the single most critical aspect to championship communication – defense.

When it comes down to it, defense wins championships. In our dental offices and dental labs, it’s no different. When our defensive playbook is on point, everybody on our team knows where they’re supposed to be, what they’re supposed to do, and how they’re supposed to get it done. Just like the winning team, we don’t always need to be fancy; we just need to do what works.

The No. 1 key to championship communication success – define expectations
This is the key to winning often and winning big. When everyone on the team knows what it takes to win, and what to do when one player doesn’t deliver, everyone wins. Remakes are costly, and finger pointing undermines the strongest of teams.

Dentists – we need to be the quarterback here. It’s up to us to call the play, snap the ball, and make the hand off. If we throw a bad pass, how can we expect our labs to catch the ball? Our treatment plans need to make sense. Our preparations need to match the materials we want to use. Our impressions need to be crisp.

Labs – we need your help. We know you know the plays as well and sometimes better than we dentists do. If our plan for a patient doesn’t make sense, we need you to call us. No one needs to run a play that’s doomed from the start. If our preparations and/or impressions aren’t good enough, we need you to call a time out. Sometimes it’s ugly out there, and what we’ve given you is the best it can be. Sometimes we may be having a bad day, or we’re rushed and we know we can do better, but we don’t have the time. We need you to sit us on the bench and ask for what you need.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s the elephant in the room and it’s been there since the first dentist-lab team started working together. But let’s be honest, it’s Game Day, our favorite team is on, and if we want to successfully work together, we have to get the elephant out of the way.

Ready? Here it is
Dentists don’t like bringing back patients. We don’t like re-prepping teeth, and we don’t like re-impressioning. It makes us feel like second stringers not worthy of our starting position. Labs don’t like to challenge the bad play call, and you don’t like to tell us that our pass stinks.

The lab often will do whatever is necessary to make up for the dentist’s bad impressions because if the dentist/quarterback puts the fans in the seats and pays the bills, the lab very understandably wants to keep the quarterback happy.

Did I just say that? Yes, I did, and the great news is, we’re all still alive. The even better news is, now that we’ve gotten the elephant out of the room, we can actually see the game. Tune in to my next article, where I’ll blanket the offense and cover the special team plays that guarantee your team and lab win every game!

Dr David Rice

David Rice, DDS, is on a mission to improve our profession by leading the next generation of dentists to grow successful lives and practices. The founder of igniteDDS, Dr. Rice has spoken to 35 dental schools and residents across America on practice building, team building, and wealth building. Dr. Rice is a private practitioner, educator, author, and mentor who connects students, young dentists, and professionals from diverse dental-related businesses.

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