Technician Focuses on Quality, and Success Follows
New material improves the diagnostic process and subsequently provides additional revenue stream
Brian Lindke, CDT, has built his career in dental laboratory technology largely on two pieces of advice that he received three decades ago. Lindke’s brother Larry, an in-house technician for a prosthodontist, told him that laboratory owners must choose from among the low-end, mid-range, and high-end business models, and that over time the big laboratories would dominate lower-quality, high-volume production and the middle group would struggle to survive. The prosthodontist Larry worked with, Lawrence O. Sims, DDS, told Brian that if he focused on quality primarily, then everything else, including money, would naturally follow.
With those considerations, Lindke built a small, high-end laboratory that 17 years ago merged with a similar laboratory. Today, VIVIDX is a thriving seven-person laboratory in Buford, Georgia, owned by Lindke and Yuichi Ikenaga, RDT.
“I have always worked toward the goal of being the best technician I can possibly be,” Lindke says. “I have always put quality first. I have never wavered from that, nor have I ever had reason to.”
Starting in his brother’s in-house laboratory provided Lindke with a significant advantage early in his career. He gained valuable experience working alongside the prosthodontist and his patients, the benefits of which were twofold: In addition to the hands-on learning opportunity it offered, Lindke also developed a confident mindset.
“In any field, you need to respect the people you work with and for,” he says, “but you also need to respect yourself, what you know, and what you bring to the table as a competent team member. That self-respect is often lacking in our industry.”
Another key philosophy that Lindke adopted early in his career was educating. He started early and gradually began lecturing more and more frequently. VIVIDX bills itself as the “lab that teaches other labs.”
Lindke and Ikenaga sought education of their own approximately 7 years ago when they hired a business coach. They focused on who they were, where they wanted to go, and what they wanted the laboratory to look like 3 years, 5 years, and 10 years into the future.
“We have carved a deeper, stronger niche by focusing on large reconstructive dentistry, implants, and multidisciplinary cases,” Lindke says.
Dentists rely heavily on VIVIDX to help with material selection, so Lindke stays on top of the latest products, including Shofu’s HC Block/Disc, a CAD/CAM ceramic-based restorative made of a hybrid ceramic material combination that ensures exceptional natural light transmission as well as high durability and flexural strength.
Lindke is developing several uses for the product, but the most beneficial so far has been for VIVIDX’s virtual smile design service. VIVIDX creates a digital smile design with a patient photo and 3D prints a model. Once a virtual comprehensive restorative plan for opening the bite has been redesigned, Shofu’s HC Block/Disc restorations are milled and bonded into place, and the design is confirmed or adjusted. The restorative team can segmentally treat the patient as needed, which allows everyone to work with the end result in mind, reverse-engineering, stabilizing, and providing transitional provisionals to the patient.
HC Block/Disc has proven to be an excellent material for the transitional provisionals. It comes in a two-layered block with dentin and enamel zones for improved esthetics. It also is easier to customize in the mouth than PMMA.
“Dentists can trim down PMMA, but additive actions such as increasing the length of the incisal edge or building up a cusp tip cannot be done with PMMA because nothing bonds to it,” Lindke says. “Because the HC Block/Disc is a composite-based ceramic material, a tenacious bond can be achieved between the HC Block/Disc and the tooth, but then the dentist can add composite if necessary.”
Diagnostics, Lindke says, is the fastest-growing segment of VIVIDX’s business.
“We always did a lot of diagnostic wax-ups, but we are doing more now virtually, and the new CAD/CAM material from Shofu allows us to take it a step further,” he says. “We can design, print a model, and do a matrix on it. The dentist shows the patient the new smile digitally and on the model, and can do a direct mockup in the mouth by putting temporary material in the matrix. Having an immediate trial smile to evaluate is a great communication tool. Then, if we are opening the vertical dimension or just enhancing the esthetics for treatment, we can mill the HC Block/Disc and bond it on so the patient has a long-term transitional restoration. As a business, I have gone from one service—a diagnostic wax-up—to three with virtual design, a PMMA temporary, and the HC Block/Disc transitional restoration. It generates revenue, but more importantly it is a service allowing the patient to more comprehensively understand the end result.”
Dentists have been pleased with it as well.
“VIVIDX’s virtual smile design allows me to diagnostically treatment plan esthetic reconstruction cases more conservatively with transitional restorations that function as ‘training teeth,’” says Ryan Van Haren, DDS.
As Lindke was advised all those years ago, when quality is the main focus, everything else follows.
For more information, contact:
Brian Lindke, CDT, co-owner of VIVIDX in Buford, Georgia.