Passion and a Supportive Lab Lead to Success

By Patricia Tackas, D.M.D.


Successful dentists are not only passionate about what they do; they are also surrounded by well-trained and educated teams. There is no “me, myself, and I” in dentistry.

My first exposure to Dr. Dick Barnes was in 1986, just three years after graduating from dental school. I virtually mortgaged the house so I could afford to take my assistant and front office manager (my only team members) along with our spouses. I firmly believe in the importance of attending dental meetings as a team to learn together, to hear together, and to grow together.

Dr. Barnes’ concept nearly two decades ago when I first attended his class in 1986, is the same that it is today: people want the best. He says we must look beyond our stereotypes and preconceptions to be the ones to educate our patients about the beautiful dentistry we can do for them. The secret to success that he revealed was passion.

Passion is what makes a person successful in life: passion for work, passion for family, and passion for life. My passion for excellent dentistry fueled my conviction that I was selling, without a doubt, the most important investment the patient was going to make. My passion for dentistry gave me the ability to empathetically discuss patients’ concerns, listen to their desires, and help them overcome their fears. I was then able to turn around their lives by allowing them to smile without embarrassment and to eat comfortably without pain.

Once you have set the stage with your patient, passionately discussing treatment recommendations and outcome, encourage your patient to think, “This is the type of dentistry that I want.” Sit with your patients and ask them, “Did you know that we could do this to improve your smile and your ability to eat without pain?” See how many times your patients say, “No. No one has ever told me that before!” You now have a captive audience.

The Team Approach

One key to granting the wishes of beautiful smiles and a successful practice is to surround yourself with successful people. A successful dentist develops a close working relationship with a team of dental technicians and ceramists from a full service dental lab that offers educational opportunities and advice. Arrowhead Laboratory can virtually guarantee your success with your patients, even the most complex cases, by walking you through diagnosis to treatment planning to actual design preparation and completion, as they did in this example from my practice.

Case Study

A 66-year-old healthy hospital radiologist was referred to our office by his wife for replacement of an upper front crown which she thought was unattractive. Clinical examination revealed the old crown was surrounded by deteriorated dentition of old amalgam and composite restorations. No one had ever discussed with him the consequences of leakage under the old fillings or the periodontal implications of no treatment. He instantly understood the need for immediate treatment and made the dental problems a priority for both improved health of his oral tissues and enhanced esthetics and function.

Diagnostic study models were fabricated to determine if vertical discrepancies existed. A facebow record was done using the Artex Articulation System recommended by Arrowhead. Full face photographs as well as more close up views of the dentition were taken. A bite registration was taken using a stiff registration material. All of these steps were done by a well-trained staff member. From these records, Arrowhead began to co-diagnose the best treatment for the best long term the patient to visualize the end result. More major treatment cases are accepted by the patient after viewing their waxed models. Instead of “how much”, the patient asks, “How soon can we start?”

Close contact with the lab prior to case presentation helped iron out concerns that arose during the planning phase. The co-diagnosis gave me a step by step approach to treating this case and even the most complex cases. Working together has allowed me, my team, and the lab to consistently be on the same page regarding treatment. And this confidence was readily apparent to the patient during the case presentation appointment.

At the clinical appointment, adequate anesthesia assured patient comfort. Once tooth preparation was complete, a matrix the lab provided was positioned over the prepared teeth to determine if the reduction was sufficient. The temporary restoration could then be quickly and esthetically fabricated using the provided matrix and a suitable temporary material such as Luxatemp by DMG. The provisional stint exactly duplicated the diagnostic wax up and allowed the patient the ability to assess the esthetics and offer changes prior to final prosthesis fabrication in the lab. All of this information was accurately recorded for the lab for ultimate success of the case. Full arch polyvinylsiloxane impressions were taken using both heavy and light body materials and the definition of the margins was ascertained for clarity.

The final compliment to any successful cosmetic case includes the skill and artistic ability of the ceramist. A close working relationship between doctor and lab can ensure success and make cosmetic dentistry rewarding.

Success in dentistry requires a passion to learn and to allow yourself to be educated. Aesthetic dentistry is many-faceted and dependent upon an excellent and intimate working relationship between doctor and lab. Allowing yourself to be guided and advised helps assure the best outcome for your patients.


Patricia Tackas, D.M.D., is a 1983 Graduate of the UK College of Dentistry. She maintains a private restorative/cosmetic practice in Lexington, Kentucky.