A career in dentistry does not only mean becoming a dentist. There are many behind the scene people who contribute in making your teeth look great. One of them is a dental technician. A dental technician is a member of the dental health team who provides back office support to dentists. They rarely interact with clients, and usually work independently.
Job Description of Dental Technician
The job description of dental technicians includes constructing various appliances such as removable and fixed prosthesis including dentures, bridges, crowns, retention plates, post orthodontic braces removal, etc. They generally work directly with the dentist by following detailed written instructions from the dentist or the orthodontist.
They use molds as a replica of teeth for construction of crowns, bridges, or false teeth. For creating these prostheses, dental technicians work with different materials like wax, stainless steel, porcelain, as well as with gold and other metals.
Nowadays, there is growing popularity for dental technicians to construct prosthesis which are metal free and aesthetic. They require qualities similar to that of a carver, as most of their work involves carving and shaping with tools like drills, presses, lathes, and high heat furnaces for creating each prosthetic device.
Basically, the job includes making:
- Full and partial dentures for patients who are missing all or some of their teeth
- Crowns to restore root canal treated teeth
- Veneers to enhance aesthetics and functions
- Various orthodontic treatment appliances and splints, to help straighten and protect teeth.
Career as a Dental Technician
In most cases, you do not require a degree for becoming a dental laboratory technician. Any person with a high school diploma can become one. After high school, you can work under the supervision of experienced technicians.
However, with competition increasing in all fields, an increasing number of people are opting for formal training courses which are usually for two years, along with three years of practical experience.
Also, to become a certified technician, you have to appear for tests conducted by the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology. A dental laboratory technician who passes this examination becomes a Certified Dental Technician (CDT).
A dental technician ensures flexibility and independence. Dental laboratory technicians can find well paid jobs, in accordance with their skills and knowledge. They will always be needed.
As life expectancy increases, the number of elderly people requiring prosthesis is continually increasing. There is always the added advantage of the satisfaction of providing a valued health care service to patients, along with boosting their self-image.
In recent years, there has been an increase in opportunities for dental lab technicians. Cosmetic dentistry is in demand due to advancement in technology and materials. The average commercial dental laboratory employs anywhere from two to two hundred technicians. Hence, there is wide scope for employment.
Besides laboratories, employment opportunities are also available in dental schools, hospitals, and companies that specialize in making dental prosthesis materials.
The job cannot be complete without mentioning the salary. However, there is no fixed salary, and it usually depends on the skills of the technician and the place of employment.
Salaries earned are equal to other health care professionals with similar qualifications and expertise. Also, experienced technicians can choose to open up their own laboratory for greater independence and more income.
If you have always wanted a career in dental care, and are blessed with hands like a surgeon and eyesight like a hawk, then a dental technicians job is just for you!