DTS 2023 – WHERE IS DENTISTRY HEADED? Leave a comment

It goes without saying that, over the past few decades, there has been a plethora of change occurring within the dental profession.
While there are certainly many negatives to focus on, there are plenty of positives that have emerged, too. The future looks promising for dental laboratories that prepare now and start focusing on how to flourish in the coming years.


The issues with recruitment are well-known, among dental lab and practice owners alike. For the laboratory, many dental technicians have either reached retirement age, are working part-time or have left to try their hand at something new. Between September 2021 and 2022, the number of registered dental technicians dropped by 3.19%, from 5290 to 5121.i The pandemic, as one example, gave professionals plenty of time to consider what they want out of their personal and professional lives, and many took the chance to make a change to their work-life balance. However, despite the undue stress this recruitment crisis has caused, there are positives to take away from it. The dynamics have undoubtedly shifted in the dental laboratory as a result of fewer staff, and therefore the importance of retaining those hard-working team members has never been more apparent. Many lab owners have undoubtedly recognised the benefits of investing in those who have stayed and continue to produce beautiful work that satisfies clients. Anecdotally, communication has most likely improved as a result too, between the team as well as the dental practice. A smaller workforce means the team must communicate more efficiently, as they are likely taking on more responsibilities and will require extra support from their team members/employer. As we are all well aware, effective communication can help us to stay composed and adjust in times of crisis.


The rise of social media and influence has affected dentistry in a myriad of ways. Clinicians are seeing more and more patients who desire beautiful restorations and prostheses, but it comes with a catch – they want it now. Most patients nowadays are used to immediacy when it comes to their investments. Dental prostheses, as you well know, require an artful eye and a steady hand, and rushing a job only results in a higher risk of errors. There’s also so much more variety than there was several years ago with regards to the dental materials and products available, and some clinicians may be inclined to look elsewhere for work if their laboratory cannot cater to these demands. It’s important to note, however, how shifting patient trends have made a positive impact on the profession. Over the years, dental products and materials have been improved and enhanced, so dental technicians have more choice and are able to produce better outcomes for their clients. Many laboratory owners have no doubt scoured the market, seeking new products that offer better value, higher quality and are able to save time when fabricating work. The common saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but reviewing the processes you have in place and seeing if positive change can be made will always benefit your laboratory, your clients and their patients.


Dentistry is still very much a ‘human’ profession, but digitalisation has helped to simplify a range of jobs, many of which consume needless time, labour and effort. Introducing automation into the dental laboratory can help the team to work more effectively and frees up time to focus on other aspects of running the business. This might include spending time on work that requires more customisation or hand-finishing. Certain digital solutions, such as milling machines, have been praised for the accuracy they provide.ii Likewise, CAD/CAM technology can help to reduce costs, working times and potential errors in the work produced. iii
In light of the events of recent years, digital dentistry has also provided further advantages, namely in the reduced risks of infection transmission. This is exemplified in the use of digital CAD/CAM technology that removed the need for human contact, thereby reducing the risk of transmission from the practice to the laboratory.iii


At next year’s Dental Technology Showcase (DTS), the focus will be on growth, and how this is facilitated by the adoption of modernised technologies. Delegates will be spoiled for choice, with over eighty exhibitors, more than fifty world-renowned speakers and the opportunity to gain over forty hours of verifiable CPD. It’s a fantastic opportunity for dental laboratory professionals to come together with a range of innovators, to recognise the advantages of tech acquisition. DTS will take place on Friday 12th and Saturday 13th May 2023, at the NEC Birmingham. Be sure to register your interest today!
As a profession, there are so many exhilarating innovations emerging that are changing how we do dentistry. It’s important now more than ever that we look forward to and work towards positive change and growth for the industry.


i General Dental Council. (2020). Registration reports. [online] Available at: https://www.gdc-uk.org/about-us/what-we-do/the-registers/registration-reports [Accessed 28 Sep. 2022].
ii Lebon, N., Tapie, L., Duret, F. and Attal, J.-P. (2016). Understanding dental CAD/CAM for restorations–dental milling machines from a mechanical engineering viewpoint. Part B: labside milling machines. International journal of computerized dentistry, [online] 19(2), pp.115–134. Available at: https://europepmc.org/article/med/27274561 [Accessed 27 Sep. 2022].
iii Papi, P., Di Murro, B., Penna, D. and Pompa, G. (2020). Digital prosthetic workflow during COVID‐19 pandemic to limit infection risk in dental practice. Oral Diseases. [online] Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7283773/ [Accessed 27 Sep. 2022].

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