The work of a dental technician is considered an art and science. Each restoration imitates and improves the beauty and function of the natural dentition. Restorative dentistry must look and feel natural in the patient’s mouth. Technicians must also be knowledgeable and understanding of oral anatomy, dental functions, and manufacturing materials and processes.
Ultimately, their work positively influences patients’ physical and oral health while improving their confidence and self-esteem. Restorative dental prostheses can adjust, stabilize, correct, or replace natural teeth. The overall goal of a dental technician is to create instruments to restore proper dental function.
What Does a Dental Technician Do?
Dental technicians work in a laboratory environment equipped with instruments for fabricating tooth enhancements and replacements. There are two areas of dentistry that depend on the skills of a dental technician: prosthodontics and orthodontics. Some products that technicians create are dentures, crowns, veneers, and clear aligners. Technicians are also responsible for fitting and repairing broken dental devices.
They work directly with dentists to plan, design, and fabricate dental prostheses. To create individualized treatment plans, they review dentists’ notes, recommendations, x-rays, photographs, and dental impressions. Working with various materials, like porcelain, zirconia, wax, plaster, and metal, they build individual restorations, matching the color and shade of the patient’s natural teeth.
With today’s technology, many labs are turning to a digital workflow. Because of the advances in machinery and digital design, dental technicians are encouraged to learn computer and programming skills.
Key soft skills that a dental technician must have are:
Typical Working Conditions of a Dental Technician
Dental Laboratory technicians typically work on a standard 40-hour-week schedule. They work in labs that are clean, well-lit, and well-ventilated. Labs have equipment, such as bunsen burners, hand tools, and grinding and polishing equipment. Some dental labs have computer-aided design (CAD) and manufacturing (CAM) software, allowing for a digital workflow. Some CAD/CAM equipment includes high-tech computer software, 3D printers, and digital milling machines.
Moreover, some dental labs are full-service. A full-service dental lab offers a fixed department, a removable department, a CAD/CAM department, an implant division, and orthodontic options. All services are fulfilled in one location.
Dental Technician Certification Requirements
There are no license requirements for dental technicians to obtain. However, certifications that recognize a technician's knowledge and skills are available. Certification exams are administered by the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology (NBC).
To be able to take the exam, you must obtain a high-school diploma or equivalent document. Applicants without a high-school diploma can be accepted if they provide a General Educational Development (GED) certificate. In addition to that, they must attend an accredited two-year dental laboratory technician program. Applicants that have trained through a non-accredited program must have at least five years of work experience. After passing, you become a
Optional credentials include a Bachelor's Degree in Dental Technology and certifications in a specialty area of dentition.
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Guide To Becoming a Dental Laboratory Technician
Certified Dental Technicians (CDTs)
Dental and Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians and Medical Appliance Technicians
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