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Dental laboratory

What is a dental lab?

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Dental laboratory explained

Dr. Sarah explains everything you need to know
about dental lab services.

A dentist cannot possibly do everything needed to service their patients on their own and will always need the help of supporting staff such as nurses and hygienists, and of course, a dental laboratory to create in-direct prosthetics for their patients. A great dental laboratory and a well-educated technician are some of the key components of success for a dentist and treatment outcomes for the patient.

What are the types of dental laboratories available?

  1. Fixed prosthodontics lab: 

    This lab mainly deals with fixed restorations, which means restorations that are fixed or cemented inside the patient’s mouth. These restorations include crowns, bridges, inlays, and implant prosthesis.

  2. Removable prosthodontics lab:

    A lab that mainly deals with removable prosthodontics (aka dentures). Dentures have many types and each is suitable for a specific situation, so a removable prosthodontics lab technician needs to have great knowledge of the field.

  3. Orthodontics lab:

    As the name suggests, an orthodontic laboratory is one that mainly fabricates orthodontic appliances such as retainers, bit blocks, and screw-related appliances. The knowledge of this technician needs to be extensive in the art and science of braces and the mechanics needed to move the teeth to the desired location.

  4. Digital dental lab:

    With the recent advances in digital technology, dental labs have also headed towards digitizing their industry. This of course works in conjunction with dentists digitizing their practices as well. Impressions are now taken with a highly specialized intraoral camera rather than the gooey materials used in the old days and sent to the lab in the form of a software file. The lab uses that file to create a digital mould of the patient’s mouth, and form a digital copy of the needed restoration. The computer works in conjunction with a specialized milling machine or 3D printer to form the needed restoration, which is then sent back to the dentist.

    This type of advanced dental laboratory can be further subdivided into the 3 main categories mentioned above (fixed and removable prosthodontics and orthodontics).

This specific distinction of laboratories is not always the case. A single lab can have all 3 types of technicians, and be able to produce any form of indirect restoration or appliance as needed by the dentist. This can be very comfortable for the dentist who really doesn’t need to worry about where to send moulds or scans since one place can take care of all of the work.

What are the common dental laboratory services?

The main purpose of a laboratory is to provide the type of restoration needed by the dentist, whether a crown, a bridge, a denture, or an orthodontic appliance. However, labs can provide support for dentists in other aspects such as:

  •  Help with shade matching:

    Matching an artificial restoration with a natural tooth is often a difficult task, especially for the front teeth. Most dentists are very well trained for shade matching and have exceptional eyes for such intricate details. In some cases, however, another set of eyes is needed, and a lab technician could provide some great insights on how to match a specific shade.

  • Restoration designs:

    With the advancement of digital technologies, it is now possible to design a restoration (such as a crown or a veneer) on the computer and apply it digitally to an image of the patient, making them see what their teeth would look like after finishing the treatment. A skilled lab technician could help you design an excellent-looking restoration, and motivate your patient to go through with his\her treatment.

  •  Providing equipment:

    Most dentists are moving forward with their practices, adopting a more digital approach with specialized cameras among other equipment. Some dentists still prefer the good old fashioned approach with the moulds, but still, need digital equipment in some cases. The lab could provide that digital equipment to aid these dentists in performing and manufacturing the desired restorations.

  • Manufacturing of aiding appliances:

    A labs function is not only to create restorations or appliances that will be placed in the mouth, but they can also fabricate appliances that make a dentist\s job easier. A great example of these appliances is the implant placement aiding appliance (also known as a surgical or implant stent) which aids the dentist in placing the appropriately sized implant in the exactly right position and the exact right angle, all furthering the success rate of that implant.

  • Repairs:

    A lab’s job doesn’t stop at creating new restorations, they are also needed to repair old and defective restorations. Indirect restorations – or direct ones for that matter – are never permanent, and in most cases need to be repaired or even replaced after a few years, and that’s where a dental lab can help.

Where can I find dental labs near me?

Dental labs are very widely spread, and a dentist can easily find a “dental laboratory near me” with a simple online search. Most labs also have fliers or send out sales representatives to visit nearby dentists and dental offices, so don’t worry, if you can’t find them, they’ll definitely find you.

That being said, it is not an easy task to find a great lab. A dentist usually goes through 2 or more labs before finding one that is compatible with his\her needs, and really understands what they want.

A dental lab is an indispensable aid for a dentist, but could also be a huge burden if not selected right.

Dental labs and AirSmile



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AirSmile is all about connecting patients with professionals that will support and guide them on their treatment path to a happy healthy smile.  On the AirSmile platform we have a mixture of both practices who offer in-house lab services and those who work with external labs offsite in order to complete your case.  Whatever your situation needs, our dentist members will have the best network and systems in place to ensure an outstanding result every time.  

Finding a dental practice that offers everything you need is simple with AirSmile.  Head to and click on the search button.  In seconds you’ll be on your way to finding a dentist that can deliver the care you need.

AirSmile is always free and always for patients – start your search today!

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Get even more savvy with our FAQ'S

Understanding your condition is the key to making the right choices for you


Dental labs are aides to dentists. They take the impressions from a dentist, pour them in stone, and use that mould to create a restoration that the dentist needs such as a denture, a crown, a bridge, an orthodontic appliance and even supporting appliances such as implant and surgical stents.

A dental laboratory takes the impressions from a dentist (which is taken in a patient’s mouth) and uses that impression to make any form of indirect restoration that the dentist requests. Examples of these restorations include crowns, bridges, implant prosthesis, partial and complete dentures, and orthodontic appliances.

There are many types of dental crowns, each with a cost according to the material used to manufacture it. A non-precious metal crown costs around 80$, while a precious metal crown covered with porcelain costs about $250. All-ceramic crowns (ones that contain no metal) are also widely used and could cost up to $125 each.

  1. How can I find a dental laboratory near me?

Dental laboratories can be found almost anywhere. It is a very widespread industry, and dental labs can be found very near to your practice. A simple online search could yield multiple results, or just wait for them to send a sales representative showcasing their work.

Dental laboratory

The dental lab and lab technicians who work within it fabricate indirect restorations and devices (meaning these which need an impression or mould of the teeth and mouth to be made). The dentist would take an impression of the teeth or the region where the restoration or prosthesis needs to be made and sends it to the lab. The lab pours up that impression in stone, and uses that model as a representation of the patient’s mouth, fabricating the needed restoration using that mould (called a cast) as a guide. The finished restoration is then sent back to the dentist, who in turn places it in the patient’s mouth.

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Compare quotes, manage your appointments, store dental records, and more. For people who want better dental.
dentist login on airsmile


Everything you need to enhance practice efficiency. For clinics that want to offer better dental.