How to Start a Dental Lab

by Felicia Greene; Updated September 26, 2017
Producing Dentures

The dental laboratory industry stands on the threshold of a projected expansion. IBIS World, a recognized research firm, forecasts that dental lab revenues will increase from 2014 to 2019. Growth of the United States' aging population foretells greater demand for dentures. Additionally, healthcare providers have begun to emphasize the value of dental care. More efficient lab technologies and increased demand for services mean reduced manufacturing costs and higher profits for dental labs.

Specialties Smorgasbord

After careful evaluation of existing dental lab services, identify specialties with few providers and/or high service demand. General-practice dentists, especially those who perform minor orthodontic work, represent a potentially attractive source of business. If you are willing to undertake special training, your lab can qualify to perform intricate dental implant work. While esthetic dental services can also prove personally and financially satisfying, you must demonstrate the ability to create exceptional cosmetic dental products that incorporate the patient's facial structure and texture. Finally, you can gain approval for dental prosthetics work, involving fabrication of fixed or removable full-mouth reconstructive products.

Equipment Wish List

Purchasing quality dental lab equipment, and keeping those devices well maintained, positions your lab to meet the demand for removable or fixed dental prosthetic items. Common dental lab equipment includes dental microscopes, dental model-building equipment, dental die and casting machines and dental waxing equipment. Dental lab lighting equipment, along with air purifiers and filtration systems, creates a comfortable work environment for your technicians.

Employee Expertise

Certified dental technology professionals enable your dental lab to deliver quality services. The National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology has established nationwide Certified Dental Technician standards. To be considered for certification, a dental technician candidate must have a functional knowledge of English, and she must possess the necessary experience and/or education. She will be disqualified if she has been found guilty of illegally practicing dentistry. Qualified candidates must pass three examinations within four years. Taken in any order, the exams include a comprehensive written test, a specialty written exam and a specialty practical exam. Dental technology specialties include crown and bridge construction, ceramics, implants, orthodontics and partial or complete dentures.

Marketing Morsels

A well-crafted marketing approach reaches two sets of potential customers. Hire a medical sales professional, preferably with dental experience, to promote your lab's services to regional dentists and dental specialty practices. Concurrently, ask your salesperson to showcase your lab's capabilities at national dental trade shows and conferences. Work with a graphic designer to create well-organized sales brochures and supporting fact sheets. Provide your salesperson with sufficient quantities of materials for all marketing efforts. Update your materials' content when you upgrade your lab's services. Hire a professional copywriter to publicize your lab in regional and national dental trade magazines.

About the Author

Based in North Carolina, Felicia Greene has written professionally since 1986. Greene edited sailing-related newsletters and designed marketing programs for the New Bern, N.C. "Sun Journal" and New Bern Habitat ReStore. She earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of Baltimore.

Photo Credits

  • IceArnaudov/iStock/Getty Images
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