(Q&A with Robert Lash, president, Moskey Dental Laboratories)
What is dental restoration?
A dental restoration replaces a tooth or teeth in a patient’s mouth. The dentist makes either an analog or digital impression and sends it to Moskey Dental Laboratories with a prescription for the type of restoration he/she wants.
What is your background? I see that you completed your undergraduate studies at Emory University and law school at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. How did you end up in dental restoration?
Despite my education, my family’s business was our dental lab since my grandfather started it in 1924. When my father’s partners left the business I joined to help him continue.
When, why and who started the business?
The name of my grandfather’s lab was Mutual Dental Lab. Over the years he, my father and uncle acquired other labs and merged with Moskey in the mid-60s. The name was changed to Moskey Mutual, and I dropped Mutual because too many people thought we were an insurance company.
Why did you select your current location?
Our first location was in Midtown at 71st and Euclid, and we were downtown after that until we had to move because we were located on the site of what is now Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena. We like Midtown due to the ease of access to the highways and public transportation.
Do patients come directly to you, or do the dentists place an order?
Patients will come to our lab for tough tooth shades and for quick repairs of removable restorations, but only at the direction of their dentist.
What is your favorite part of your job or most interesting moment?
I know it sounds corny, but giving people their teeth back is very satisfying and important for the patient’s general health. Unfortunately, we don’t often see the results of our work in patients’ mouths, but we appreciate when dentists send us pictures of a happy patient.
What is the greatest challenge in your industry?
Finding trained dental technicians. Last century there were many Eastern European immigrants in Northeast Ohio who were well-trained, and there were many dental technology programs available. Now, as far as I know, there are no such programs in Ohio.
How have things changed in your career, and what does the future of dental laboratories look like?
The future is here, and it’s digital — from the dentist’s office to our lab where we can design almost any restoration with a CAD program, and then manufacture that restoration by an additive (3D printing, laser sintering) process, or subtractive (milling).
Why is restoration so expensive?
What we charge the dentist is not what the dentist charges the patient. With crowns and implants, there is often precious metal involved and expensive implant parts that are highly machined for optimum results. We have no control over the final cost, but I’d say the four years (plus for specialists) of post-graduate education, the yearly continuing education, and the many expenses of running a dental office certainly have a lot do with what the patient may consider an expensive restoration!
How did you know Christopher Palda, the HGR Industrial Surplus customer who put us in touch with you?
He does work for Stone Oven Bakery, which rents space in my building.
Has Christopher repaired or built items for you?
Yes, he’s repaired or attempted to repair numerous pieces of equipment for us.
What do you do when you are not running Moskey?
Enjoying time with my wife, visiting my three kids who all live out of town, playing guitar in bands, road bicycle riding, sleep!
What inspires you?
The awesome beauty and power of nature.
What is the best advice that you would give to others?
Do something that brings you joy, whether that’s inside or outside of your career.