Dental technicians manufacture dental custom-made devices like bridges, crowns, dentures, and appliances under the supervision of dental practitioners, following their directions and specifications.
The duties of a dental technician include, but are not limited to:
- Creating accurate models of patients’ mouth and teeth from the dentist’s moulds
- Designing and fabricating dentures, mouth guards, retainers, etc
- Creating crowns and bridges to restore a patient’s mouth or teeth
- Making dental composite work and performing diagnostic wax-ups
- Correcting irregularities in a patient’s dentition using removable or permanent dental devices
- Replacing missing dental and facial tissue with prostheses
- Preparing reports on the dental laboratory’s activities
- Maintaining dental records and other laboratory documentation
The following job titles also refer to dental technician:
clinical dental technician
senior dental technologist
maxillo-facial prosthetic technician
maxillo-facial prosthetic technologist
chief dental technician
chief dental technologist
senior dental technician
Dental technicians usually work regular office hours and some weekends. The work is performed in labs or offices, and they have little to no contact with the public. Dental technicians also have to wear gloves, masks, goggles, and other protective equipment to protect them.
Dental technicians typically need at least a high school diploma or equivalent. High school students interested in becoming a dental technician may benefit from taking classes in science, mathematics, and art.
Employers may prefer to hire candidates who have a postsecondary certificate or associate’s degree. Some community colleges and technical schools offer programs in dental technology in which students gain experience completing specific tasks.
Most dental technicians learn their skills through on-the-job training. They may begin as helpers and learn more advanced skills as they gain experience. For example, dental technicians may start out making models from impressions and progress to designing and fabricating crowns and bridges.
ISCO skill level
ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:
- the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
- the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
- the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.
Dental technician is a Skill level 3 occupation.
Dental technician career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to dental technician.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of dental technician. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of dental technician with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential skills and competences
These skills are necessary for the role of dental technician.
- Manipulate dental material: Manipulate materials used in dental procedures such as waxes, plastics, precious and non-precious alloys, stainless steel, porcelains and composites or polymer glass.
- Respond to changing situations in health care: Cope with pressure and respond appropriately and in time to unexpected and rapidly changing situations in healthcare.
- Contribute to continuity of health care: Contribute to the delivery of coordinated and continuous healthcare.
- Use e-health and mobile health technologies: Use mobile health technologies and e-health (online applications and services) in order to enhance the provided healthcare.
- Maintain laboratory dental tools: Maintain laboratory tools and equipment such as lathes, trimmers, grinders, articulators, and cleaning devices.
- Repair denture prostheses: Use the appropriate soldering and welding techniques to modify or repair components of removable and fixed denture prostheses.
- Select materials for orthodontic appliances: Determine the appropriate materials for removable or permanent orthodontic appliances, paying attention to design and function as specified by prescription.
- Communicate effectively in healthcare: Communicate effectively with patients, families and other caregivers, health care professionals, and community partners.
- Follow clinical guidelines: Follow agreed protocols and guidelines in support of healthcare practice which are provided by healthcare institutions, professional associations, or authorities and also scientific organisations.
- Test dental appliances for compliance: Examine dental appliances to make sure that they comply with specifications, using articulators and micrometres to test for accuracy of occlusion.
- Manufacture dental prostheses: Design and fabricate dental prosthesis or appliances such as space maintainers, crowns, veneers, bridges, and dentures, retainers, and labial and lingual arch wires.
- Examine dental models and impressions: Examine models and impressions of the patients` teeth in order to determine the design of dental products to be constructed.
- Comply with legislation related to health care: Comply with the regional and national legislation that is relevant to one`s work and apply it in practice.
- Listen actively: Give attention to what other people say, patiently understand points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times; able to listen carefully the needs of customers, clients, passengers, service users or others, and provide solutions accordingly.
- Work in a multicultural environment in health care: Interact, relate and communicate with individuals from a variety of different cultures, when working in a healthcare environment.
- Promote inclusion: Promote inclusion in health care and social services and respect diversity of beliefs, culture, values and preferences, keeping in mind the importance of equality and diversity issues.
- Follow dentists’ instructions: Work directly with dentists by following their detailed instuctions.
- Manage infection control in the facility: Implement a set of measures to prevent and control infections, formulating and establishing health and safety procedures and policies.
- Ensure safety of healthcare users: Make sure that healthcare users are being treated professionally, effectively and safe from harm, adapting techniques and procedures according to the person’s needs, abilities or the prevailing conditions.
- Apply organisational techniques: Employ a set of organisational techniques and procedures which facilitate the achievement of the goals set. Use these resources efficiently and sustainably, and show flexibility when required.
- Work in multidisciplinary health teams: Participate in the delivery of multidisciplinary health care, and understand the rules and competences of other healthcare related professions.
- Polish dental prostheses: Use finishing burrs and grinding equipment to grind, smooth, and polish dental prostheses.
- Accept own accountability: Accept accountability for one`s own professional activities and recognise the limits of one`s own scope of practice and competencies.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of dental technician. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Inform policy makers on health-related challenges: Provide useful information related to health care professions to ensure policy decisions are made in the benefit of communities.
- Train dental technician staff: Provide training to dental laboratory assistants and other dental technicians in the fabrication of dentures and other dental devices.
- Supervise dental technician staff: Supervise dental laboratory assistants and other dental technicians in the fabrication of dentures and other dental devices.
- Handle payments in dentistry: Handle taxes, paychecks and insurance payments for the provided dental services.
- Communicate in foreign languages with health service providers: Apply foreign languages in communicating with health service providers such as doctors and nurses.
ISCO group and title
3214 – Medical and dental prosthetic technicians
- Dental technician – ESCO
- Dental and Ophthalmic Laboratory Technicians and Medical Appliance Technicians : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Dental Technician Job Description – Indeed
- Dental Technician – StateUniversity.com
- Featured image: By mddw Agentur für Kommunikation, Oberhausen – Zahntechnikerinnung für den Regierungsbezirk Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, CC BY-SA 2.0