I'm DDS that wants to start a niche lab and I need help.

Gru

Gru

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I'm a 38yo DDS and in the depths of the pandemic, I hatched a plan to start a dental lab. I would like to start a mini dental lab and solely focus on implant planning, surgical guide fabrication (for fully guided surgery) and associated custom healing abutments/temporary crowns. Why? 2 reasons:

#1 - I have some health issues that are forcing me to decrease my time chairside.
#2 - I know that at least locally, the surgeons could get a lot better final result if they went fully guided.

I don't care to make this a big thing and I hope to keep just a few local clients. I can use my lab space in my existing office that I own. I have a 3Shape IO scanner and a SprintRay printer so I am familiar with the digital realm. I believe I will use 3Shape software for the planning and guide design, and I already have a souped up computer to handle it. I have a few burning questions:

What formalities are there to starting a dental lab business? Do I need to register with the FDA to sell a class I device? Do I have to register with the state?

I notice that a lot of labs are not doing this, what is holding them back?
I'm in on the lab side of such an endeavor. My 2 cents (and maybe that's what it's worth):

1) Hire a skilled lab tech with experience running all aspects of the lab. It helps if they like your choice in software.
2) Give them extremely clear, written guidance on goals and how you desire things to be done, then listen to objections and work out the disagreements before hiring them.
3) Document the written guidance again, then hold them to the result while staying out of the way in every way that doesn't require your direct approval or participation. That said, don't neglect them- you could easily make cases late while waiting for your participation.
4) Set up a compensation agreement that benefits them in correlation to it benefiting your goals.
5) Set up incentives for lab growth.

Others will have more to contribute.
 
TheLabGuy

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Here is my take, and let me premise this by don't let anyone tell you can't do anything.
Now, let me be frank with you, this doesn't make good business sense at all. I used to offer surgical implant guides, don't do much anymore because the right way to do it is include a .dicom file (ct, cbct, etc...) along with a digital scan of aesthetic mock-up desired results. Then on top of that most GD's and Surgeons want sequencing along with the surgical guide. The sequence of what size drills at what depth in what sequence. Then you add in all the implant rules of do's and don'ts (i.e. bone level vs. tissue level, 3mm from another implant/natural tooth, buccal plate space, etc...) Then the real kicker in all of this is there is already big boy companies doing this for a fee of $20 (BluSkyBio). Then if you have Straumann do it, sure it's a lot more pricier, but they will walk through the planning, designing, and fabricate the stint with sequencing for $400. Where's the profit margin? I'm sure you are a lot faster than me, but it took me awhile to design these up and after quite a few I pulled the plug, too much time and not enough money in it.
Now do I know a lab person who does have a lab that specializes in this niche, yep sure do. We all know him here and he does very well for himself in Florida. However, he is in a very metropolitan area, has several O.S. offices he does this work for and charges accordingly. So yes it can be done, but with a DDS degree, go teach, work for some lame insurance company, or maybe if lab is your desire...presenting yourself/idea to an already existing lab that may want to expand into this. Tons of options, but just starting a lab out of nothing with this niche makes me worried for you. Just trying to look out is all.
 
Affinity

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Totally agree with this ^

Its not really a niche if companies like BSB have the market cornered and can sell them dirt cheap, designed by a dentist. Like I said, you would be better off contacting them and being a subcontractor, you can work from home, the software is free, they send you the work.. Will you make any money? Not much unless you spend 8 hours doing it... You could probably make more scanning nightguards/splints and sending them off for patients. This is the only advantage of having the degree, sounds like going backwards, from a lab techs perspective.
 
sidesh0wb0b

sidesh0wb0b

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And believe it or not, I'm still doing the wax up, suck down, fill with acrylic type of guides. I just sent 2 quadrants out to my main account (his wife's case) for him to send to the oral surgeon. The oral surgeon seems to like them, as it's a small town and I asked for his feedback on improving them.
we get a ton of this style too. its better than not getting one, but not the way i would like to see them all done.
 
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David Lesh

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I'm a 38yo DDS and in the depths of the pandemic, I hatched a plan to start a dental lab. I would like to start a mini dental lab and solely focus on implant planning, surgical guide fabrication (for fully guided surgery) and associated custom healing abutments/temporary crowns. Why? 2 reasons:

#1 - I have some health issues that are forcing me to decrease my time chairside.
#2 - I know that at least locally, the surgeons could get a lot better final result if they went fully guided.

I don't care to make this a big thing and I hope to keep just a few local clients. I can use my lab space in my existing office that I own. I have a 3Shape IO scanner and a SprintRay printer so I am familiar with the digital realm. I believe I will use 3Shape software for the planning and guide design, and I already have a souped up computer to handle it. I have a few burning questions:

What formalities are there to starting a dental lab business? Do I need to register with the FDA to sell a class I device? Do I have to register with the state?

I notice that a lot of labs are not doing this, what is holding them back?
 
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