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Inside Dental Technology
May 2023
Volume 14, Issue 5

The Educational Investment

Learning the “why,” not just the “how”

Executive Editor Daniel Alter, MSc, MDT, CDT |

As the laboratory community embraces the new normal of post-pandemic life, we have found ourselves grappling with how to best serve our clients, their patients, and our own technicians and staff to ensure the health, success, and viability of our growing businesses. Among the many concerns of dental laboratory owners and managers is the development of their team's technical acumen and dental knowledge. This essential knowledge ensures that the dental prostheses fabricated in their laboratory will provide patients with best-in-class function and esthetics. In order to achieve that goal, dental laboratory owners should consider viewing dental education and professional growth for themselves and their staff as a direct investment in their business. These investments will pay for themselves many times over when the laboratory's talent has developed a keen understanding of the "why" behind all we do.

There are many educational opportunities available on the market, whether privately facilitated, at conferences and trade shows, or in company-sponsored courses, but most tend to focus on teaching attendees the "how" of getting things done; rarely do they teach the "why." That increased understanding of the "why" can lead to positive outcomes for the patientor, regretfully, a lack of that understanding could adversely affect the oral mechanism as a whole and potentially cause catastrophic failures. If certain fundamental principles of physics, occlusion, gnathology, and biomechanics are not observed, these prostheses, and thereby their restorative viability and functionality, will undoubtedly fail. In order to avoid failures and create best outcomes, laboratories throughout the nation are creating opportunities like lunch-and-learn sessions, weekend retreats, and more, where they bring in professionals to teach the particularly important "why" and find ways to incentivize progression in dental knowledge.

When creating educational opportunities to offer to your team, it may sometimes serve best to go back to fundamental basics and then build more advanced knowledge upon that foundation. Reviewing these basics will create a baseline to judge the dental intelligence of the team and can provide management with critical information to determine their team's aptitude and ascertain where improvement might be needed. With each educational opportunity they attend, a technician or staff member can gain greater clarity from reviewing the fundamentals, providing them with a basis upon which to learn more advanced knowledge that they might not otherwise have understood.

Ultimately, education is an investment in your laboratory's talent that will ensure successful outcomes for your dentist clients, enhance your laboratory's reputation, and provide your laboratory's technicians or staff members with a morale boost. People enjoy the feeling of professional growth, critical thinking, problem solving, and a job well done. A laboratory that provides educational opportunities to truly learn the "why" behind the "how" will help its employees grow as dental laboratory professionals, and this will yield not only better dental prostheses, but also significantly happier and more fulfilled dental technicians who will look out for the laboratory's best interests. An investment in knowledge is one that is well worth making!

It is my honor and pleasure to elevate and inspire with knowledge.

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