|Dental Laboratory Technician Career: Something to Smile About
If you like doing precision work with your hands, enjoy working independently and are interested in health care, a career as a dental laboratory technician may be for you.
The dental laboratory technician takes on significant responsibility as a member of the dental health care team. Dental technicians make dental prostheses—replacements for natural teeth— to help people who have lost some or all of their teeth to eat, chew, talk and smile in a manner that is similar to or better than the way they did before.
The hallmarks of the qualified dental laboratory technician are skill in using small hand instruments, accuracy, artistic ability and attention to minute detail. At Mitch Dental Laboratory we hire entry-level positions and provide training and education in dental technology using formal education and training, as well as, hands-on with the latest procedures and techniques. So if a career in health care appeals to you, but several extra years of school doesn't, then dental laboratory technology is a field you will want to explore.
A career as a dental laboratory technician offers a wide range of challenges. Since each dental patient's specific needs are different, the duties of a dental technician are comprehensive and varied. Technicians work with a variety of materials, as well as sophisticated instruments and equipment, to create dental prostheses—replacements for damaged or missing tooth structure.
What Do Dental Laboratory Technicians Do?
Although dental technicians seldom work directly with patients, except under the direction of a licensed dentist, they are valuable members of the dental care team. They work directly with dentists by following detailed written instructions and using impressions (molds) of the patient's teeth or oral soft tissues to create:
full dentures for patients who are missing all of their teeth;
removable partial dentures or fixed bridges for patients who are missing only one or a few teeth;
crowns, which are caps for teeth that are designed to restore their original size and shape;
veneers, that enhance the esthetics and function of the patient; and
orthodontic appliances and splints to help straighten and protect teeth.
Dental technicians work with a variety of materials in replacing damaged or missing tooth structure. These include waxes, plastics, precious and non-precious alloys, stainless steel, a variety of porcelains and composites or polymer glass combinations.
Additionally, many technicians acquire skill in the use of sophisticated instruments and equipment while performing laboratory procedures. It is important for the technician to help create tooth replacements that are both esthetic and functional in order to improve a patient's appearance.
What Are the Advantages of a Dental Laboratory Technology Career?
Flexibility: Dental laboratory technology is a flexible career offering several opportunities for advancement.
Independence: Technicians perform much of their work without close supervision. They often experience the satisfaction that results from taking an entire project from start to finish.
Creativity: Dental laboratory technology requires the skill and touch of an artist. Technicians need to be creative when they make prostheses.
Security: The services performed by dental technicians will always be needed. With the population growing older, there will be a continued demand for prostheses that improve these individuals' nutrition, appearance and ability to speak clearly.
Personal fulfillment: Dental laboratory technicians experience the satisfaction that goes along with the knowledge that they help to provide a valued health care service and positively affecting patients' oral health and self image. Technicians play a significant role in the delivery of dental health care and take pride from producing a hand-crafted product. Dental Laboratory Technology is both a science and an art.
Where Do Dental Laboratory Technicians Work?
With advancements in technology and materials, there is an increased demand for restorative and cosmetic dentistry. As a result, there is currently a great demand for dental laboratory technicians. Employment opportunities will be excellent well into the next century.
Most dental laboratory technicians work in commercial dental laboratories employing from 2 to 200 people. The average laboratory employs about five to ten technicians who may provide a full range of dental prosthetic services, or specialize in producing one particular type of prosthesis (e.g., removable partial dentures, crown and bridge, etc).
What Education/Training Does a Dental Laboratory Technician Need?
At Mitch Dental Laboratory we have a comprehensive multi-media training program that teaches specialized skills in specific areas of the production of dental prostheses. This training provides a base of knowledge that can be built on as you refine your knowledge, skills, and abilities as a dental technician.
Dental laboratory technicians can become certified by passing an examination that evaluates their technical skills and knowledge. The examination is administered by the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology. A dental technician who passes the certification examination becomes a Certified Dental Technician (CDT). CDTs specialize in one or more of five areas: complete dentures, removable partial dentures, crown and bridge, ceramics or orthodontics.
Refer to the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology (NBC) for current certification requirements.
A dental technician takes on significant responsibility in the delivery of oral health care and is a valuable member of the dental care team. With an increased demand for cosmetic dentistry, there is a great need for dental technicians. As a result, the job outlook is excellent.
National Association of Dental Laboratories (NADL) and
National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology (NBC)
1530 Metropolitan Blvd
Tallahassee, FL 32308
800-950-1150 toll free
(The NADL, which is the world's largest organization representing dental laboratories, provides career information to interested individuals).
(The National Board for Certification provides information on the national certification program for dental laboratory technicians).