Inside Dental Technology
An Interview with Dr. Bill D’Aiuto
Inside Dental Technology (IDT): Please explain the genesis of the American Dental Association (ADA) Subcommittee on the Future of Dental Laboratory Technology (SFDLT) and your perspective of it from the role
Dr. Bill D’Aiuto (BD): The Subcommittee on the Future of Dental Laboratory Technology was formed by the Council on Dental Practice (CDP) in 2009 following the 2009 Future of Dental Laboratory Technology Conference, which convened at the ADA headquarters in August. The 2009 conference resulted from a desire to help expand the ADA’s understanding and recognition of issues and challenges facing the dental laboratory industry. The conference drew together stakeholders from all sides of the table—from ADA members and staff, the Prosthetic Forum, American Dental Education Association (ADEA), and the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) to the National Association of Dental Laboratories (NADL) and
The serious issues brought forth in this conference galvanized the Council on Dental Practice and were the impetus to form this subcommittee. Our mission is to collaborate with the NADL and National Board of Certification (NBC) to identify issues most severely impacting the dental technology industry and to help affect change to mitigate those challenges.
This year, the CDP formed a new Subcommittee on the Dental Team, which includes the mission of the SFDLT. The new subcommittee retains four of the five SFDLT members and my role as chairman, while adapting to also identify and collaborate with other organizations representing the dental team.
IDT: What were the issues revealed at the conference that the subcommittee has been able to positively affect?
BD: After examining all the issues and challenges faced by the laboratory industry, the ADA in collaboration with NADL and NBC chose to address those issues that we felt we could have the greatest impact on in the least amount of time. At the core of the decision on which issues to address was the desire to generate increased interaction between dentists and dental laboratory technicians. Therefore, the ADA acted on three issues based upon the recommendations put forth by the subcommittee and recommended to the Council on Dental Practice. Resolutions were drawn up by the Council on Dental Practice and approved by the House of Delegates in October 2010.
Key components of the recommendations approved by the ADA House of Delegates were to encourage the ADA to offer joint courses for dental undergraduate and dental laboratory students and to include certified dental technicians as presenters of ADA continuing education opportunities. The policy adopted also encourages dental schools to interact with local laboratories to create a technician-dentist interface that will enhance the experiences of the graduating dental student.
IDT: After heading up the subcommittee for three years, what additional achievements were realized?
BD: The dental laboratory community now has an advocate and voice within the ADA to raise awareness among members and to address the direct concerns of the laboratory industry. It’s through the subcommittee’s collaboration with dental laboratory stakeholders, my work with the NBC as the dentist representative on its Board of Trustees, and my appointment to NADL’s Foundation for Dental Technology, that we have been able to learn about the challenges facing our dental laboratory partners and educate ADA members. If dentistry should lose our national laboratory product or profession, I’m not sure dentistry can survive as it has up to this point—as the envy of the world. We must empower, grow, and enliven our national dental laboratory profession.
To that end, subcommittee members are discussing with the NADL the possible creation of a collaborative DVD primarily aimed at recently graduated dental student to encourage interaction with local and regional laboratories within our shores.
We created a yearly slot on the ADA Annual Session program for a certified dental technician-taught course for dentists and dental laboratory technicians. We wrote the Department of Labor supporting the upgrading of the occupational status of dental technicians from unskilled to skilled. We continue to work on and have made great progress in the last three years on efforts to increase recognition of the dental laboratory profession and its value to the profession of dentistry as well as to patient safety. Consumer recognition is tantamount to getting more individuals to recognize the profession as a viable career.
We also are working to support dental laboratory technology education. The Council on Dental Practice is being apprised of the NADL’s Foundation of Dental Laboratory Technology salvation efforts to aid accredited educational programs by providing grants, promoting programs for needed technology instruction, and provide incentives for donations through public relation opportunities.
IDT: As an ardent advocate and supporter of the dental laboratory profession, what morewould you like to see the subcommittee and the ADA do to empower, grow, and enliven the laboratory profession?
BD: It all starts with education. I would like to see the ADA start the effort to help initiate new dental laboratory technology programs to address the current shortage of skilled technicians the industry faces.
We also need to recruit the best and brightest candidates with computer and engineering skills to the dental laboratory technology field. To do that we need to expand our laboratory education structure to include an accredited nationwide mastership level educational platform. As a cohesive and unified profession, dentistry cannot afford to allow dental laboratory technology education to be seen as anything less than a highly skilled, multi-disciplinary educational process. We are all in this boat together. I don’t know how dentistry can grow and maintain the quality care we provide without a solid domestic dental laboratory technician profession.
Dr. Bill D’Aiuto is a member of the ADA Council on Dental Practice and Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Dental Team, which evolved from the Subcommittee on the Future of Dental Laboratory Technology. He maintains a private practice in Longwood, Florida.