Chris Gajewski

November 4, 2019

DIY Orthodontics: The Dental Industry’s Frankenstein Monster

As a person with 30+ years experience in orthodontic laboratories, I am often asked my opinion of DIY orthodontic outfits like Smile Direct Club (SDC). Whether it is SDC  or one of the others popping up, my reply is the same: “participation in the SDC is like participation in the “Clean Your Loaded Gun Club;” it could turn out okay or it could turn out very ugly. The only real difference is the public understands the dangers of cleaning a loaded gun.” Orthodontists and dentists are outraged over DIY orthodontics. More and more videos are popping up on the web and in seminars of people losing teeth and their roots actually being ripped out of their gums. As I see the SDC advertisement plastered on the city bus, though, I find most of their “outrage” silly at the least and hypocrisy of the first order at the worst. The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) and American Dental Association (ADA) have come out against DIY Orthodontics with campaigns. I think to myself, “what the hell were you expecting? You didn’t see this one coming? It is not like it came out of left field. No, this was a line drive right […]
August 23, 2017

The New Orthodontic Lab

My Mom told people for 25 years that I make teeth. I would like to point out that I don’t. I did not make teeth in the old orthodontic lab and I do not make teeth in the new orthodontic lab. I would also like to point out that I did not want any parts of the new orthodontic lab. I am there, but I still don’t want any parts of it. Aye, I was happy. I bought my lab in 2005 and my three year plan stretched into ten years, but I was finally there. I had the right people in the right places doing the right things. I had my flat screen television, my Netflix and I was even chasing 90 on the golf course—without cheating.
August 23, 2017

More Money for Your Practice

I hate to sound like the commercial where the cows have signs that read “eat more chiken” but… Here is a novel approach to make more money for your practice: lower the cost of your nightguards and splints. Or not. But do I still have you? Good. Let me explain. I brought two friends together. One is a physical therapist and the other is a dentist. The PT was telling me that he recommends nightguards to about 80% of his clients. A report on Web MD states that about 30% of the people leaving a dentist’s office should have a nightguard. I have read elsewhere, from lecturers, that approximately 30-50 potential nightguards are leaving your offices every week.
August 23, 2017

“Talk to the Lab Guy. Work with the Lab Guy. Trust the Lab Guy.”

This is it: the final printed and mailed version of “From the Lab Guy.” Those stamps and envelopes taste awful. For any future columns, you will have to sign up on the website for an emailed version or just check out the website for new posts. --yes, I’ll be spending the next month trying to figure out how to create a subscriber list. Aye, I know how this works. How many of these things never get opened and just get filed in the round file cabinet?
August 23, 2017

Invisible Retainers and Why I Don’t Treat Family

A nudge here, a little movement there, maybe a guard to keep from grinding or a series of trays to treat relapse. I get asked all of the time by family and friends to take care of them. I always do the same thing: I refer them to you, offering to make the appliances for free. After 30 years in this business, I know enough about orthodontics to get me into trouble. I do not want the hassle or responsibility of really screwing up somebody’s mouth. I am sure that you will do a far better job than I can: it’s what that really big degree on your wall says.
August 23, 2017

Introducing our New InivisX Retainers!

After a year of development, we are excited to offer these dual layer invisible retainers. They have a soft, colorful inner liner that is more comfortable, rigid and makes them harder to lose. The outer shell is .76mm Zendura. Zendura, now our premium invisible retainer material, is unlike anything else out on the market. It is thinner, clearer and proven to be more durable and more stain resistant. The material is manufactured and processed differently than other materials. It also comes in 1mm (.040) but the .76mm has been shown to be more than adequate. Check it out on the web for yourself: www.zenduradental.com.
August 23, 2017

A Few Words About Retention and Relapse

It seems like every time I mention what I do for a living, I hear stories from half the people around me about how they had orthodontic treatment and have since relapsed, most back to the point where it was as if they never had braces. The fact is long term orthodontic satisfaction rates are abysmal. In an article published in 2013 by the Cochrane Oral Health Group, a study found that the long-term satisfaction rate after 10 years was 30%-50%. After 20 years, that drops to 10%.
August 23, 2017

The New Orthodontic Lab

My Mom told people for 25 years that I make teeth. I would like to point out that I don’t. I did not make teeth in the old orthodontic lab and I do not make teeth in the new orthodontic lab. I would also like to point out that I did not want any parts of the new orthodontic lab. I am there, but I still don’t want any parts of it. Aye, I was happy. I bought my lab in 2005 and my three year plan stretched into ten years, but I was finally there. I had the right people in the right places doing the right things. I had my flat screen television, my Netflix and I was even chasing 90 on the golf course—without cheating.
August 23, 2017

More Money for Your Practice

I hate to sound like the commercial where the cows have signs that read “eat more chiken” but… Here is a novel approach to make more money for your practice: lower the cost of your nightguards and splints. Or not. But do I still have you? Good. Let me explain. I brought two friends together. One is a physical therapist and the other is a dentist. The PT was telling me that he recommends nightguards to about 80% of his clients. A report on Web MD states that about 30% of the people leaving a dentist’s office should have a nightguard. I have read elsewhere, from lecturers, that approximately 30-50 potential nightguards are leaving your offices every week.
August 23, 2017

“Talk to the Lab Guy. Work with the Lab Guy. Trust the Lab Guy.”

This is it: the final printed and mailed version of “From the Lab Guy.” Those stamps and envelopes taste awful. For any future columns, you will have to sign up on the website for an emailed version or just check out the website for new posts. --yes, I’ll be spending the next month trying to figure out how to create a subscriber list. Aye, I know how this works. How many of these things never get opened and just get filed in the round file cabinet?
August 23, 2017

Invisible Retainers and Why I Don’t Treat Family

A nudge here, a little movement there, maybe a guard to keep from grinding or a series of trays to treat relapse. I get asked all of the time by family and friends to take care of them. I always do the same thing: I refer them to you, offering to make the appliances for free. After 30 years in this business, I know enough about orthodontics to get me into trouble. I do not want the hassle or responsibility of really screwing up somebody’s mouth. I am sure that you will do a far better job than I can: it’s what that really big degree on your wall says.
August 23, 2017

Introducing our New InivisX Retainers!

After a year of development, we are excited to offer these dual layer invisible retainers. They have a soft, colorful inner liner that is more comfortable, rigid and makes them harder to lose. The outer shell is .76mm Zendura. Zendura, now our premium invisible retainer material, is unlike anything else out on the market. It is thinner, clearer and proven to be more durable and more stain resistant. The material is manufactured and processed differently than other materials. It also comes in 1mm (.040) but the .76mm has been shown to be more than adequate. Check it out on the web for yourself: www.zenduradental.com.
August 23, 2017

A Few Words About Retention and Relapse

It seems like every time I mention what I do for a living, I hear stories from half the people around me about how they had orthodontic treatment and have since relapsed, most back to the point where it was as if they never had braces. The fact is long term orthodontic satisfaction rates are abysmal. In an article published in 2013 by the Cochrane Oral Health Group, a study found that the long-term satisfaction rate after 10 years was 30%-50%. After 20 years, that drops to 10%.
November 28, 2016

Intraoral Scanners, a Mindwalk and “Spiced” Coffee

So you have or are looking at that fancy wand intraoral scanner. As practices move from just using it as a tool for Invisalign and difficult patients, and into digital dentistry and orthodontics, a very common conversation is taking place between doctors and lab owners...
October 10, 2016

Catch the Rainbow: Tips, Info and my Annual Reminder/Plea

A few doctors have mentioned to me that patients can agonize over picking a color or design for their retainers, usually while in the chair, wasting your valuable time and setting the schedule back. There is an easy fix for this: Have an appointment card printed that includes a link to an online color chart and a space for the patient to fill in for the colors or designs they want. The link can be to our website, or we can provide you a PDF for your website. You can even contact our graphics company to redesign a color chart specifically for your practice, if you want to leave options out or add options — I would just appreciate a byline as I have been working on the thing for over 20 years.
September 28, 2016

For Dental Practices Only: We are Not Just Hawley Retainers and Hyraxes

An oral surgeon from around the corner called my lab the other week with an emergency, wondering if we made flippers? A patient of his, who was about to graduate college, had an unfortunate encounter between a baseball bat and his front teeth and he needed to look good for his big day. –we’ve been making flippers for over 25 years. I can understand the oral surgeon’s lack of understanding of what we do in the lab. After 25 years in this business, my Mom still tells people that I make teeth. So, I just thought I would take a moment to clear up a few things.
September 15, 2016

Bite Registration

An old adage in carpentry is measure once, cut twice; measure twice, cut once. This idea can be applied to guards and splints. Fitting a guard or a splint can be tricky, with a lot of grinding. But it does not have to be. I just had a doctor call complaining that the guard they eventually gave the patient was more fill material than it was guard. I get this call from time to time, while other doctors that I make guards and splints for, I never hear from. The difference can be the bite registration.