April 14, 2014
Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.
A dental technician or dental technologist is responsible for making various dental appliances including bridges, crowns, dentures, dental braces and orthodontic appliances. Dental technicians work to the prescription of the dentist for each patient. Their work helps improve patients’ appearance and also helps improve patients’ speech and ability to chew. Without the services offered by a dental technologist, dentists would not be able to offer the full range of services to their patients.
A high degree of technical skill and a high level of manual dexterity are essential skills in this profession.
There are four specialist areas with this specialty:
Prosthodontics technicians specialise in designing and making dentures, which can be made of acrylic or chrome cobalt
Orthodontic technicians specialising in designing and making braces to align proper tooth positions
Conservation technicians focus on crown and bridge work using a wide range of materials, including porcelain, gold or metal alloys
Maxillo-facial technicians or maxillofacial prosthetists are in great demand in hospital oral surgery, ophthalmic, burns and cancer units, where they help to reconstruct faces damaged by disease or accident.
A dental technician can choose to work as a generalist producing a wide variety of technical items or they can choose to specialise in any one of the above areas.
You must be registered with the GDC or General Dental Council to work as a dental technician.
To be able to register, you should have successfully completed a course that has been approved by General Dental Council. Completing a recognised course leads to qualifications such as the BTEC National Diploma in Dental Technology or a BSc (Hons) degree in Dental Technology. You could also complete a foundation degree, in which case you would normally be employed as a trainee dental technician.
BSc (Hons) degrees are usually full-time courses conducted by universities or dental schools.
The BTEC National Diploma or foundation degree course can be done on a full-time basis or by obtaining a post as a trainee dental technician and taking the course part-time.
The majority of dental technicians are employed in commercial dental laboratories, which could range from small, family-run businesses to large multi-site laboratories offering a comprehensive service. Jobs for dental technicians are also available within hospitals, general dental practices and the armed forces.
Technicians usually carry out work for local dentists although some laboratories offer a postal service, dealing with dentists from a wide area.
A technician working in a dental hospital may be attached to the maxillofacial department and be involved with making larger prostheses including eyes, ears and nose.
Dental technicians can also be involved in research or teach undergraduate dental students some of the technical aspects of dentistry.
Additional qualifications allow a technician to become an instructor technician. Or there is the option of becoming a senior technician with responsibility for quality control or management within a larger laboratory. Another possibility is within sales for a laboratory or trade company.