Perrin Dental Laboratory opens doors on county line on Nov. 16

Bob and Lori Perrin have opened Perrin Dental Laboratory at their home and will host an invitation-only open house for area dental professionals on Saturday. Photo by Cindy Klepper.

Lori and Bob Perrin took a setback and turned it into opportunity.

The result is Perrin Dental Laboratory, which opens its doors on Saturday, Nov. 16, with an invitation-only open house for area dental professionals.

The following week, the lab will begin crafting dentures and other removable dental appliances, made to order for those dentists' patients.

"This location is so underserved," Lori Perrin says of the laboratory's location at their home on the Huntington-Whitley county line. "We have the prime location for serving at least four communities."

Lori Perrin will craft the dental appliances, while Bob Perrin will serve in auxiliary roles including upkeep and maintenance of the laboratory that occupies space that was once his workshop.

Both Lori and Bob Perrin formerly worked at Lincoln Foodservice in Fort Wayne, and both lost their jobs when the company moved its Fort Wayne operation elsewhere. Lori's job evaporated more than three years ago, while Bob lost his job in April.

Lori Perrin says her dentist suggested that she look into opening a dental lab. She liked the idea, and used the available federal job retraining funds to enroll at Indiana-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, to study dental laboratory technology. She graduated in May and immediately began working to open her own lab.

Perrin will work only with dental professionals, receiving the initial impressions of the patient's mouth and custom crafting first models and then the actual appliance until it is to the liking of both dentist and patient.

Her recent entrance into the field should work to her benefit, she says.

"I don't have habits yet," she says. "I can adapt to their (the dentists') preferences."

Custom touches include the color of the teeth and special requests such as a slight overbite or a space between teeth, she says.

One patient at Matthew 25, a free clinic in Fort Wayne where she served her internship, even requested a missing tooth in his set of dentures, she says.

"The guy loved it," she says, noting that it's not her goal to craft a perfect set of teeth.

"It's not normal," she says. A few flaws "make it look not so fake."

While Perrin Dental Laboratory is now essentially a one-person operation, Perrin's goal is to eventually expand to become a full-service lab and hire additional staff. She also plans to be able to offer the internship for students in the IPFW program she attended.

Perrin is enthusiastic about her new profession.

"It's an art form," she says. "It goes from taking a puddle of plastic to getting an exquisite set of dentures that look good."