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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 208-213

A study to assess communication hindrances by the means of work authorization for fixed dental prosthesis: A survey

Department of Prosthodontics and Crown and Bridge, School of Dental Sciences, Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences Deemed to be University, Karad, Satara, Maharashtra, India

Date of Submission23-Dec-2019
Date of Decision08-Feb-2020
Date of Acceptance27-Mar-2020
Date of Web Publication7-Apr-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sneha Harish Shetty
Department of Prosthodontics and Crown and Bridge, School of Dental Sciences, Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences Deemed to be University, Karad, Satara, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jips.jips_475_19

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Aim: The aim of the study was to assess the hindrances in communication between the prosthodontic office and the laboratory technicians through work authorization.
Setting and Design: A questionnaire-based survey was carried out to assess communication gap between dentist and lab technicians through work authorization for FDPs.
Materials and Methods: A total of 114 dental laboratory technicians were provided with a questionnaire regarding work authorization form via Google doc files. The survey focused questions pertaining to fulfilling the following areas of work authorization: patient's information, name of the prescribing dentist, material for the prosthesis, pontic design of the prosthesis, shade description, and date of completion of work.
Statistical Analysis Used: The number of responses received was statistically evaluated using Fisher's t-test and nonparametric Spearman's correlation coefficient (P ≤ 0.05).
Results: Eighty-five (74.5%) out of 114 laboratory technicians surveyed responded to the questionnaire. The patient's general information was satisfactorily filled in 75%–100% of the forms. Information regarding the pontic design, staining diagram, and preferred margin were on the lower side of the scale ranging between 25% and 50%.
Conclusions: The survey concluded that areas of work authorization with respect to fixed dental prosthesis require attention and need to be adequately filled by the dentist. In addition, the study suggests that the foundation of communication skill training programs in work authorization should be laid from the undergraduate curriculum. The concerned authorized bodies/specialty organizations should formulate a standardized work authorization format which can bridge the wide gap between the crown and bridge office and laboratory.

Keywords: Dentist, fixed dental prosthesis, laboratory technicians, work authorization

How to cite this article:
Shetty SH, Pawashe KG, Sanyal P, Sushma R. A study to assess communication hindrances by the means of work authorization for fixed dental prosthesis: A survey. J Indian Prosthodont Soc 2020;20:208-13

How to cite this URL:
Shetty SH, Pawashe KG, Sanyal P, Sushma R. A study to assess communication hindrances by the means of work authorization for fixed dental prosthesis: A survey. J Indian Prosthodont Soc [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Mar 6];20:208-13. Available from: https://www.j-ips.org/text.asp?2020/20/2/208/282049

  Introduction Top

Clinically acceptable prosthesis lies a dependency on well-designed laboratory procedures, attainable solely through a harmonious communication between the dental office and laboratory.[1],[2]

Prosthodontics is a branch involving inter-relation of dentist-technician-patients. Communication gaps affect in toto all the three bodies. The most effective way of communication is by means of work authorization form. The purpose of well-completed work authorization form is to achieve and provide a unique, distinctive prosthesis for each individual patient.[3]

Literature revealed trends of poor communication in terms of inadequacy of information provided, which is not new to dentistry.[4],[5] Hence, this survey was undertaken to evaluate the frequently missed out factors in the work authorization forms by the dental office and laboratory.

  Materials and Methods Top

A questionnaire covering specific areas of work authorization forms was used for the survey. The questionnaire was a Google doc file consisting of 11 rating types of questions in English language. The title of the document explained the purpose of the study [Table 1].
Table 1: Questionnaire for the survey

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Specific areas of the work authorization concerned with fabrication of fixed dental prosthesis were covered in the survey. The questionnaire included questions to be answered in percentages for indication in work authorizations received by the laboratory for the following: patient's general information, referring dentist's name and signature, selected shade, material of the prosthesis, preferred margin design, design of pontic, diagrammatic representation for shade, are the forms printed in regional language, date of completion, mentions need of try-in, and additional photographs provided.

The distribution of the Google form was facilitated through the Association of Dental Technicians of Maharashtra to all licensed dental laboratory technicians (n = 114) using a random sampling technique, with a 2-month deadline for answers. The questionnaire asked for anonymous responses to ensure confidentiality and overcome possible reservations about participation. One month after the first mailing, a reminder was issued by the Association of Dental Technicians to all member laboratories restating the request for a reply. A total of 114 dental technicians received the mailed questionnaire, out of which 85 responses were received at the end of the survey.

The questionnaire was pilot-tested on-site by in-house laboratory technicians before mailing them to the dental laboratory technicians in western Maharashtra region.

Frequency distribution and percentage were done to check responses for 11 questions [Table 2]. Fisher's exact test was used to check the association between responses to two questions [Table 3]. Two groups were correlated for their responses by nonparametric Spearman's correlation coefficient [Table 4]. All analyses were performed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences software version 20 (IBM Corporation, India).
Table 2: Frequency distribution and valid percentages for each questions

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Table 3: Association between responses to two different questions by Fisher's exact test

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Table 4: Correlation between responses to two different questions by Spearman's correlation

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  Results Top

Eighty-five out of 114 technicians surveyed answered the questionnaire showing a yielding rate of 74.5%. Patient's general information was provided in almost all forms received by the technicians ranging from 75% to 100%. However, questions pertaining to referring dentist's information, date of completion of prosthesis, shade selection, and material of prosthesis showed a similar response percentage of 51%–75%. Information regarding margin design, pontic design, different shade in sections, need of additional try-in, and photographs were on the lower side of the percentage scale.

The correlation between two responses tested by Fisher's exact test showed that the responses of question 1 and question 2, questions 4 and 5, questions 4 and 6, and questions 1 and 9 were statistically significant (P ≤ 0.05) [Table 2].

Correlations checked among the responses of each question revealed that correlation of question 3 (selected shade) with questions 1 and 2 (patient's and dentist's general information), correlation of question 5 (preferred margin) to question 4 (material of prosthesis), question 7 (staining diagram) to questions 5 and 6 (preferred margin and pontic design), question 8 (are forms in regional language) to questions 4 and 5 (preferred margin and material type), question 9 (date of completion) to question 3 (selected shade), and question 10 (need for try-in) to question 6 and 7 (pontic design and staining diagram) were statistically significant (P ≤ 0.05) [Table 3].

  Discussion Top

Laboratory work authorizations have been called the most frequently used and abused form of communication between the dentist and the laboratory technician. The findings of this investigation are quite revealing as to the attitudes and habits of dental practitioners in western Maharashtra region in the field of fixed prosthodontics. This survey showed that the finer details of a work authorization form (such as margin design, need for try-in, staining, and photographs) are most often poorly provided by dentists.

Technicians' dissatisfaction by the information provided by the dentists has been reported in a survey done on fixed prosthodontics.[6] A survey of dental laboratories in 1991 mentioned frequent complaints regarding incomplete information on work authorization by the technicians.[7]

From this survey, it was evident that <25% of the prescriptions received by the dental technicians were legible to render good service. Information regarding referring dentist, patient's general information, and date for completion of prosthesis was reported 51%–75% of the times.

Proper pontic design is important for cleansability, good tissue health, and good esthetics; fifty-six percent of the laboratory technicians did not mention the type of pontic design in their prescription. Although dental technicians are important and valuable members of the oral health provider team, they are not trained to diagnose or manage the patient.[8]

About 34% of the work authorization form lacked information regarding the preferred margin design. Margin design configurations depend on various clinical situations. Hence, dentists should have knowledge of the same and be in a position to put forward the same to the laboratory technician to meet patients' esthetic and functional needs. These results are comparable to previous studies done on fixed prosthodontics.[9]

Tooth shade information is essential to the dental technician. A staining diagram of a tooth that allows the specification of multiple shades is very helpful to the dental technician, especially in the fabrication of crowns in the anterior region. For example, by designating a cervical shade, an incisal shade allows for proper individual characterization of patients' teeth. Seventy-four percent of the laboratories reported that dentists did not usually provide a diagram for staining which indicates poor information provided by dentists. Wherever shade was mentioned, it was a single tab shade, the finding similar to a study by Berry et al.[10]

Fifty-six percent of laboratories lacked information regarding the regional language used to fill the form. Language becomes a barrier in communication because all laboratory technicians are not well versed with English language. Hindi being the national language of India, considerations should be made in these regards to improve communication gap.

In their study information was received relating to 241 items (145 PFMs, 96 FPDs). Poor or no written instructions were provided for 65% of PFMs (n=94). Only 25% of FPDs (n=24) were accompanied by poor or no written instructions. In 14% of PFM and FPD prescriptions (n=21 and n=13, respectively) the technician had to contact the dentist to clarify the written instructions supplied. It is also of note that 86% of prescriptions for PFMs (n =125) did not identify the surfaces that were to be covered with metal only.[11] Leith et al.[12] in their study mentioned that technicians still rely on contacting the prescribing dentist by telephone to clarify instructions and are often forced to make decisions without the necessary information, and the standard of communication between dentists and laboratory technicians is inadequate, although it has improved over recent years.

It is disappointing that even though the problems of inadequate prescription and communication between clinicians and laboratory technicians were first highlighted almost 40 years ago,[13] there is still evidence to demonstrate that these problems still persist. The reasons for this are not entirely clear. However, Christensen[14] has suggested that principles improve dentist-technician integration and communication.

In 1990, Goodacre[15] in his article addresses the ramifications and responsibilities of a future dentist with regard to the dental laboratory. A program was developed in 1994 to improve the quality of laboratory submissions and the returned product, facilitating laboratory communication.[16] Recently, the American Dental Association (2011) has issued updated guidelines to improve the relationship between the dentist and the laboratory technician.[17] These guidelines not only advance the communication between dentists and laboratory technicians but also the efficiency and the quality of care for the patient.

Surveys considering knowledge of infection control amongst lab technicians concluded laboratory technicians lacked the knowledge of basic infection control protocol.[18] Only about half of the dentists communicated the desired information (contact relation, crown contour, margin and pontic design of the prostheses) to the dental laboratory technician even after taking the decision of repeating the prostheses.[19]

Several accredation standards for dental education proramme are mentioned out of which 2-23g mentions communicating and managing dental laboratory procedures in support of patient care.[20] There was an improvement in the completion of request forms submitted to the laboratory after educating students and staff on the information that should be provided to technicians.[21] Studies have focused on the development of guidelines and utilization of interprofessional education to develop a prescription-writing module in all dental school curricula.[22],[23]

It is fundamental that the dentist and the laboratory technician should collaborate effectively as a team possessing a sound understanding of each other's roles with regard to prosthesis fabrication.[24] Good communication between clinicians and dental technicians is vital if a good end result is to be achieved. This must continue to be taught and reinforced to undergraduate dentists.[25],[26]

  Conclusions Top

  1. Trends indicated large laboratories citing lack of communication by the dentists.
  2. Work authorization forms should contain specific informations as requested by the laboratory technicians.
  3. Inclusion of teaching programs on work authorization in undergraduate curriculum and implementation of standardized format by authorized body.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Leeper SH. Dentist and laboratory: A “love-hate” relationship. Dent Clin North Am 1979;23:87-99.  Back to cited text no. 1
American Dental Association. Statement of Prosthetic Care and Dental Laboratories. Chicago: American Dental Association; 2000. p. 455.  Back to cited text no. 2
Hatzikyriakos A, Petridis HP, Tsiggos N, Sakelariou S. Considerations for services from dental technicians in fabrication of fixed prostheses: A survey of commercial dental laboratories in Thessaloniki, Greece. J Prosthet Dent 2006;96:362-6.  Back to cited text no. 3
Lynch CD, Allen PF. A survey of chromecobalt removable partial denture design in Ireland. Int J Prosthodont 2003;16:362-4.  Back to cited text no. 4
Lynch D, Allen PF. Quality of written prescriptions and master impressions for fixed and removable prosthodontics: Acomparative study. Br Dent J 2005;198:17-20.  Back to cited text no. 5
Aquilino SA, Taylor TD. Prosthodontic laboratory and curriculum survey. Part III: Fixed prosthodontic laboratory survey. J Prosthet Dent 1984;52:879-85.  Back to cited text no. 6
Farah JW, Dootz E, Mora G, Gregory W. Insights of dental technicians: A survey of business and laboratory relations with dentists. Dentistry 1991;11:9-11.  Back to cited text no. 7
Jenkins SJ, Lynch CD, Sloan AJ, Gilmour AS. Quality of prescription and fabrication of single-unit crowns by general dental practitioners in Wales. J Oral Rehabil 2009;36:150-6.  Back to cited text no. 8
Afsharzand Z, Rashedi B, Petropoulos VC. Communication between the dental laboratory technician and dentist: Work authorization for fixed partial dentures. J Prosthodont 2006;15:123-8.  Back to cited text no. 9
Berry J, Nesbit M, Saberi S, Petridis H. Communication methods and production techniques in fixed prosthesis fabrication: A UK based survey. Part 2: Production techniques. Br Dent J 2014;217:E13.  Back to cited text no. 10
Lynch CD, Allen PF. Quality of communication between dental practitioners and dental technicians for fixed prosthodontics in Ireland. J Oral Rehab 2005;32:901-5.  Back to cited text no. 11
Leith R, Lowry L, O'Sullivan M. Communication between dentists and laboratory technicians. J Ir Dent Assoc 2000;46:5-10.  Back to cited text no. 12
Owall B. Design of removable partial dentures and dental technician education. Swed Dent J 1974;67:21-32.  Back to cited text no. 13
Christensen GJ. Improving dentist-technician interaction and communication. J Am Dent Assoc 2009;140:475-8.  Back to cited text no. 14
Goodacre CJ. Predoctoral fixed prosthodontics education. J Prosthet Dent 1990;64:319-25.  Back to cited text no. 15
Maxson BB, Nimmo A. Quality assurance for the laboratory aspects of prosthodontic treatment. J Prosthodont 1997;6:204-9.  Back to cited text no. 16
American Dental Association. Statement of Prosthetic Care and Dental Laboratories. Chicago: American Dental Association; 2011. p. 159.  Back to cited text no. 17
Nagarsekar A, Gaunkar R, Aras M. Knowledge, attitude, and practice of dental professionals regarding the effect and management of food impaction associated with fixed partial denture prostheses: A survey. J Indian Prosthodont Soc 2016;16:372.  Back to cited text no. 18
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Gupta S, Rani S, Garg S. Infection control knowledge and practice: A cross-sectional survey on dental laboratories in dental institutes of North India. J Indian Prosthodont Soc 2017;17:348.  Back to cited text no. 19
[PUBMED]  [Full text]  
Commission on Dental Accreditation. Accreditation Standards for Dental Education Programs. American Dental Association. Available from: http://www.ada.org/~/media/CODA/Files/predoc.ashx. [Last updated on 2016 July 01].  Back to cited text no. 20
Dickie J, Shearer AC, Ricketts DN. Audit to assess the quality of communication between operators and technicians in a fixed prosthodontic laboratory: Educational and training implications. Eur J Dent Educ 2014;18:7-14.  Back to cited text no. 21
Evans JL, Henderson A, Johnson NW. Interprofessional learning enhances knowledge of roles but is less able to shift attitudes: A case study from dental education. Eur J Dent Educ 2012;16:239-45.  Back to cited text no. 22
Parry GR, Evans JL, Cameron A. Communicating prosthetic prescriptions from dental students to the dental laboratory: Is the message getting through? J Dent Educ 2014;78:1636-42.  Back to cited text no. 23
Tulbah H, AlHamdan E, AlQahtani A, AlShahrani A, AlShaye M. Quality of communication between dentists and dental laboratory technicians for fixed prosthodontics in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Dent J 2017;29:111-6.  Back to cited text no. 24
Juszczyk AS, Clark RK, Radford DR. UK dental laboratory technicians' views on the efficacy and teaching of clinical-laboratory communication. Br Dent J 2009;206:E21.  Back to cited text no. 25
Stewart CA. An audit of dental prescriptions between clinics and dental laboratories. Br Dent J 2011;211:E5.  Back to cited text no. 26


  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]


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