Drake Dental Laboratories: Experience Helps Ensure Superior Products, Services, Value
Billy Drake, CDT, has been the owner and CEO of Drake Dental Laboratories, Inc. in Charlotte, North Carolina, since 1982. He says he has seen a lot of change during these 30-plus years, but one thing that has remained constant throughout is his company’s emphasis on providing quality service and products.
“Customer satisfaction and a total commitment to excellence are top priorities,” Drake asserts.
Despite the many changes in the industry—in terms of materials and technology—
Drake says the end-product endures. “What we are selling is the artistry and skill of our dental technicians, many of whom are Certified Dental Technicians who instill dedication in their work, ensure quality control, and share a common goal: to produce a product to fit and function in the mouth.”
Drake notes that new materials have made it possible to offer patients the esthetics they now demand, in addition to superb fit and function. He calls zirconia “the new metal” and says it has changed the world of ceramics and dental laboratories. “It can be used as an understructure—a coping over which porcelain is layered—or even a full-contour crown.”
While Drake admits that he himself would happily wear a gold crown because “the mouth loves gold,” he says zirconia is just as strong, less expensive, and closer esthetically to what the public now wants—tooth-colored restorations. “Zirconia is a very dense, white, hard material that has some opacity. Although it does not have the translucency of a natural tooth, developers are coming closer by adding different substances to give it a higher translucency.”
A company that prides itself on innovation and use of technology, Drake Dental Laboratories is one of fewer than 100 labs in the United States that now offers CAD/CAM cast partial dentures, Drake says. These are fabricated by scanning partial dental casts and converting them into virtual models, which are designed on a computer and printed into a wax pattern using 3-D technology, then cast. “Technology has taken over many of the tasks previously done by hand,” he says.
In addition to CAD/CAM cast partial dentures, Drake says that for the past 5 years his lab has been using DurAcetal® resin to produce a partial framework called DuraTek, an alternative to metallic partials with acrylic teeth. “We were one of the first labs in the eastern United States to do this, and it has worked out extremely well. It is non-metallic, lightweight, and flexible. People love them because they are light but strong and more comfortable than conventional appliances. They are also non-porous, so they are bacteria- and stain-resistant, with no metal taste,” Drake says. DuraTek is available in 22 different tooth and tissue shades.
Drake boasts that the company owns all of its equipment—including several latest-generation scanners from two different manufacturers and multiple millers of different makes and models as well as their own 3-D printers. “A lot of labs don’t own their own equipment. They just scan something and send it somewhere else to be done. We do everything in-house,” he says. “We scan, case plan, mill, 3-D print, and process it all—all in-house.”
Additionally, in the interest of offering optimum, predictable results, Drake points out that his 100-employee laboratory uses a closed system. “In other words, if we buy somebody’s razor, we use their blades. We don’t substitute.” This, he says, not only minimizes mistakes but gives his company credibility with manufacturers. Keeping a closed system, he says, also assists in keeping with DAMAS (Dental Appliance Manufacturers Audit Scheme) Third Party Accreditation on Quality Assurance. “It helps us easily track all of our lot numbers. We know what lot every unit that is put in someone’s mouth comes from.”
Drake says his laboratory’s emphasis on quality has served it well over the years. “We have partnered with leading companies in their industries and instituted procedures to provide tangible value at no additional cost to them or their patients while ensuring that good manufacturing practices have been adhered to on all cases.”
Drake Dental Laboratories, Inc.
8510 Crown Crescent Ct
Charlotte, NC 28227