Dental Technician: Job Description, Skills And Career Outlook

Dental Technician
Dental Technician

Most people don’t realise there is more to dentistry than just the dentist profession. There are a variety of jobs, and endless opportunities for you to explore. Among those, the very exhilarating and interesting profession is dental technician.

Who are dental technicians?

Dental technicians or dental technologists, are people who make the dentures, crowns, bridges and dental braces for each patient, improving their appearances, speech and chew ability. They are the people who would be working in a lab, and with the usage of specialized tools, fine-tune each appliance and device to absolute precision. Just like fingerprints, every tooth is unique, so no two denture pieces should be the same, therefore, the need of dental tech to make sure the device is comfortable and effective is very much needed.

Working in this profession, you’ll be responsible for improving the dental quality and replacing lost teeth. You’ll be working alongside a dentist to make bridges, crowns, dentures, braces and other orthodontic devices. There are 4 major areas of dental tech that you can specialise in:

  • Fixed prosthesis – making implants, crowns and bridges that will permanently mounted into mouths
  • Orthodontics – creating devices to straighten teeth such as mouth guards or braces
  • Removable prosthesis – devices including dentures and removable partial dentures
  • Maxillofacial – reconstructing damaged faces cause by accidents or disease
Who are dental technicians?
Who are dental technicians?

Dental technician responsibilities

Constructing these denture devices, you’ll be using materials such as plastic, porcelain, wax and metals, including gold and stainless steel. To design these moulds to perfection, you’ll have to have skills such as modelling, sculpting, polishing, wire bending, as well as ceramic work and casting. But that’s not all, the daily tasks of a dental tech are:

  • Making orders for dental prosthetics or restorations
  • Creating individual models of patients’ mouth using either physical or digital moulds
  • Following the dentist instructions, giving the exact details of the appliance
  • Matching the colour and shape of the model
  • Perfect and suit the devices to patients’ teeth by grinding, carving and polishing the item
  • Checking the finished items if they are in correct design and shades
  • Adjust the appliances so they won’t damage the tissue inside the mouth
  • Restore the teeth’s natural state by fabricating crowns and bridges, apply them to complex implant units and implant-borne restorations
  • Collect and update patient’s records for future use
  • Correct irregularities in teeth, using removable appliances such as casings or dentures

Dental Technician Education

To begin your career as a dental tech, you must start by earning either a GED or high school degree. During this, you should take courses in biology, physics, or any of the related fields and normally, you’ll need to complete at least four GCSEs at grade 4-7 or A-C. Additionally, having a foundation degree will also be a great advantage for an aspiring dental tech, while you’re participating in a trainee program.

Dental Technician Education
Dental Technician Education

Another way to become a dental technician is to complete a 2-year dental lab technician program, which will accredit you with an associate’s degree or certificate. After finishing these courses, you’ll have to choose your specialization in ceramics, dentures, or crowns or bridges, where the insights to the techniques and understandings will be explored. Usually, to complete the program and get a certificate, you’ll have to sit through an exam, administered by the National Board for Certification in Dental Technology.

Dental Technician Working environment

Mostly, dental technicians are going to base their work at dental laboratories and may even own a business or specialist practice within their own lab facilities. Beside that, you may also be employed at private or public hospitals, as well as public health services.

Many who are specialised in crowns and bridges would often be working in the cosmetology field, which they are often hired in private clinics. You can even pursue and become an educator, working towards advancing the materials and designs of these appliances. Though uncommon, some can also work in sales and marketing in a dental company, or as an editor of a journal.

Career prospect

On average, dental technicians earn about $78,719 per year, a rather high number for a relatively short period of education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for dental technicians will grow at about 13% over the next decade, making dental tech quite valuable in the job market. With the suitable qualifications and experience, your longevity in this career is determined. Also, if you’d like to further your studies and divert to another higher paying profession, dental technician is a great step.

Conclusion

Once qualified, there are plenty of opportunities to progress your career. You can either move into a management position, or divert your route to become a dental assistant. It isn’t hard to become a dental tech, all you need to have is patience and meticulousness in your work to succeed in this career.