High-Quality CAD/CAM System Helps Launch Small Laboratory
Husband-and-wife team earns reputation for precise restorations, fast turnaround times
Christina Heaslip was in shock the day her husband, Brian, called to tell her he had quit his job. Christina was a stay-at-home mother taking care of their four young daughters, and Brian had worked as a dental laboratory technician for 13 years, building PFM restorations. His plan, he told her, was to open a digital laboratory.
“By the end of our conversation, we knew what we were going to do,” Christina says. “We were going to open a digital laboratory in our home, provide for our family, and produce quality restorations for our clients. I did not have a dental background, but I decided to fully support my husband and make his dream my dream. Digital Dental Laboratory was born.”
The Heaslips had a vision of a patient-first concept using a CAD/CAM system to offer faster turnaround times than dentists in northern Georgia had known. They started methodically, lining up the necessary bank loans and eventually opening in September 2014, just 5 months after Brian had left the other laboratory. They started with no clients but marketed to every dentist in three surrounding counties.
“We started with one dentist, picked up another, and just kept moving forward,” Brian says. “This gradual growth was consistent with our business plan because it allowed us to fine-tune our workflow. We could not be happier with the progress since then.”
The Heaslips attended continuing education courses to optimize their workflow. They took an active role in ensuring that patients received the best possible restorations.
“We like to have the type of relationship with our dentists that allows us to suggest a different product or design if we believe it is best for the patient,” Brian says. “We often share our digital designs with the dentists before milling so we are all on the same page.”
Part of building that relationship was incorporating personal touches. They offered personal pickup and delivery, and Christina baked cookies for client appreciation as well as for marketing purposes.
“We became the laboratory that bakes the cookies,” Christina says. “I picked up four clients just by saying, ‘If you like my cookies, you should see our teeth!'”
Today, Digital Dental Laboratory's milling machines are in operation every day; the Heaslips' mantra is “Every day I'm millin' it.” The laboratory serves 15 dentists—11 of whom send cases daily and four of whom send rush cases, though their “rush” cases are within the Heaslips' regular turnaround time.
“Dentists in our area were accustomed to waiting up to 4 weeks for a restoration,” Christina says. “They were impressed when we delivered their restorations in 2 to 3 days, and then they would call after seating to tell us they saved 45 minutes of chairtime because the fit was so precise.”
Digital Dental Laboratory utilizes Dentsply Sirona's inLab CAD/CAM equipment and software, including the inEos X5 scanner. With a robot arm, 5-axis scanning technology, and a large working area, the inEos X5 is accurate within 2.1 µm.
“Dentists always comment about marginal integrity on our cases,” Brian says. “Marginal integrity is the most important factor in the success of the restoration. It seals out all the bad bacteria. If your equipment can produce nice margins, you are ensuring the longevity of the crown.”
Brian chose the inLab system in large part because of the company's proven track record of exceptional technical support and its extensive network of users who share tips and help each other. However, the system is also extremely intuitive and user-friendly.
“I am confident I could pull someone off the street and have them scanning within an hour of training,” Brian says.
Dentsply Sirona's ever-evolving CAD software also is important for a two-person digital laboratory.
“The software is improving exponentially, getting easier and helping us offer more types of restorations,” Brian says. “The updates are free with your initial purchase, and there is always training available. That is important because we either need to keep up with the competition or get left behind.”
Instead, the Heaslips are ahead. Christina has been a speaker at Dentsply Sirona events, and Brian has now trained other laboratories on the inLab system. He also was asked to serve as a mentor at zirconia courses taught by Step Toothmaster Bay, CDT.
All this success has taken place in their home, allowing the Heaslips to care for their daughters—Emma, 12; Charley, 10; and 4-year-old twins, Anna and Becca—which was the plan all along.
“We hope to inspire other small laboratories to invest in inLab technology,” Christina says. “Digital dentistry is the future, and Dentsply Sirona can help any size laboratory be part of that future.”
For more information, contact:
Dentsply Sirona Laboratory CAD/CAM