Better by Association

Feb 01, 2010 No Comments by

In a recent Arrowhead webinar, dentists were asked, “If you had access to implant and full arch reconstruction experts, how likely would you be to pursue these types of cases?” Eighty-seven percent said “very likely’’—yet less than 30 percent nationally have attempted a full arch case.

Why do so few doctors do full arch or implant dentistry regularly? Some would argue that such cases are the domain of specialists and the GP should focus on basic dentistry.

The problem is that this relegates dentists to a fairly narrow band of treatment options. It also reinforces the public’s tendency to see general dentistry as an expense and specialized dentistry as an investment. If you disagree, simply ask yourself how many $5,400 cases (the average cost of braces) you sold this week. Call your local orthodontist and ask him the same question.

The real reason that 70 percent of dentists have never attempted a full arch case is fear. Fear of failure. Fear of getting in too deep. Fear of having no one to help should one get stuck.

This fear keeps dentists in a professional holding pattern, waiting for the “perfect case” before proposing an implant or full arch treatment plan. During this period, patients have to make do with less optimal outcomes, and dentists miss out on potential revenue.

To make things worse, the emergence of discount dental laboratories has doctors hyper-focused on unit price. They forego the more traditional lab relationship to save 20-30 dollars a unit. They lose the very people who could help them transition to larger cases. In a very real sense they are alone.

If your current lab isn’t making you a better dentist, find on that will.


Our role at Arrowhead is to make dentists better by association. We are here to walk them through that first implant or full arch case. We are a ready and able resource when something unexpected crops up in subsequent cases.

Recently we worked with a doctor over an Internet video link as he prepped a patient. We watched the procedure in real time and advised him. The dentist advanced his skill level, and the patient received an outcome that very few dentists in her area could provide.

Let’s say you believe a person should practice several years before contemplating a move like this. We would ask, “Do you have a lab that is making you better?” We currently assist a dentist weekly who has been out of dental school for eight months. He does full arch cases with confidence and is beginning to do implants.

Doctors who do implants and full arch dentistry are better dentists. They can see past the initial complaint, identify root causes and provide OPTIMAL treatment. These dentists can find new revenue sources among their existing patients.

Implants and fixed dentures open up a huge, high-value treatment option for the aging patient population. The ability to replace removable partials with fixed implants is an option that virtually sells itself. The invitation to make over a smile in one visit is compelling for a patient concerned with appearance. The question is: can you do it, and are you aligned with a lab that can help you get there?

In our 30 cumulative years at Arrowhead, we have talked to thousands of dentists on tens of thousands of cases. We are firm believers in the “dentist and dental lab” relationship. We can name hundreds of dentists who have caught the vision of doing implants and full arch cases.

Regardless of the lab selected, use the resources provided. If your current lab isn’t making you a better dentist, find one that will. Now is the time to start doing implant and full arch dentistry.

Collaboration, Winter 2010

About the author

Kent Garrick is Director of Technical Services at Arrowhead Dental Lab, where he has worked for 24 years. He specializes in assisting dentists in 
comprehensive case design.
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