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Conference with dental laboratory groups set

In an effort to broaden understanding of the dental laboratory industry and related issues affecting the profession and dental patients, the ADA will convene an invitational conference of stakeholders Aug. 7.

ADA House Resolution 62H-2008 calls for the conference and for a subsequent report and recommendations for action for the 2009 House to consider.

This resolution seeks to uphold patient safety and the profession's current and future needs for prosthetic services and dental laboratory technician support.

As the U.S. dental laboratory industry ages, workers are going unreplaced and globalization in lab work is increasing.

The U.S. Department of Labor statistics show there are about 48,000 full- and part-time technicians in the U.S. The labor statistics predict that 11,000 will leave the industry by 2014 due to retirement and attrition. As a result, dentistry is faced with new workforce, safety, education and marketplace concerns.

The resolution calls for a conference of interested stakeholders to discuss the current state of dental laboratory services and training in the U.S. and to consider actions each organization could take to insure that the quality of prosthetic services delivered in the U.S. remains high in the future.

"We need to better understand this industry for ourselves and our patients," said Dr. Jake De Snyder, a member of the Council on Dental Practice. Dr. De Snyder is also serving his first year in a three-year term as a trustee of the National Board of Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology. "The dental laboratory industry is important to our profession," said Dr. De Snyder. "Working together, we're more likely to find solutions to our shared concerns."

At the conference, two members will represent the ADA from each of the following groups: the ADA Board of Trustees; the Council on Dental Practice; the Council on Scientific Affairs; and the Council on Dental Education and Licensure. Four additional members will be chosen to represent the ADA.

An invitation for two participants each will be issued to: the Commission on Dental Accreditation, the Prosthodontic Forum, the Academy of General Dentistry, the National Association of Dental Laboratories, the American Dental Education Association and the American Student Dental Association.

In addition, a limited number of spaces will be available for outside stakeholders attending at their own expense.

Subjects that will be considered at the conference include:

  • adequacy of undergraduate dental school training and examination in prosthetic dental laboratory techniques;
  • workforce concerns, the state of education and alternative training models for dental laboratory technicians;
  • the changing marketplace for dental prosthetic solutions;
  • scope and impact of off-shore dental laboratory outsourcing;
  • safety and regulatory concerns related to dental laboratories;
  • future needs.

After the conference, the ADA groups will prepare a report for both the 2009 House of Delegates and to share with participating agencies. It will include recommended actions and activities for the ADA to address the profession's present and future needs for prosthetic services and dental laboratory technician support.

To learn if space is available, contact Joan Dietrich, manager, dental team activities and publications, ADA Council of Dental Practice, 1-312-440-2762 or dietrichj@ada.org