Dental Lab Technician

A dental lab technician works in dental laboratory technology.  The field is an art and science of creating replacements and corrective devices for natural teeth.  The technician works closely with the dentist and this is a career that is a professional career that is receives a great deal of respect.

Dental Lab Technician Job Description

Dental lab technology is an art because each restoration that the dental lab technician performs is unique, as no two mouths are the same, and the replacements or devices must be designed to work as the natural function of the natural teeth of the patient.  The technician must have expert skills and experience or the smile of the patient with the corrective devices or replacements will not look natural.

It is also a science in which dental lab technician use a wide range of high tech materials and must have a great understanding of the mechanics of the mouth and dental devices.

How To Become A Dental Lab Technician

For those that have an interest in becoming a dental lab technician they should first determine if they have the skill.  Candidate should have dexterity with small instruments, good color perception, good vision, excellent eye hand coordination, and a strong focus and patience to handle each minute detail.

The next step is to decide upon the dental lab technician course.  You will have the option of studying for an Associate’s degree or a Bachelor’s degree in a dental technician program, which is more beneficial to all those who wish to enter the career as they will be in a better position to receive a higher salary and the student will be able to choose and area of specialization, such as bridges, ceramics, complete dentures, orthodontics, or partial dentures.

Your dental lab technician courses should be from a school that is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association.   Once you have completed your training, which will take about two years, you will then receive certification in your specialty from the National Board for Certification

Different Types Of Dental Lab Technician Programs

There are different types of programs that students can enroll in.  The first is a dental technician school which offers a certificate program.  These programs teach students in general areas of dental lab technology and offers specialty training in denture fabrication and dental ceramics.  The certificate programs typically take about a year to complete.

To be eligible to attend accredited dental technician schools students must hold a high school diploma or equivalent.  If the student knows early on that they wish to become a dental lab technician they should focus their studies in science, art and wood shop and drafting

Course structure for dental lab technician courses includes:

  • Oral and dental anatomy
  • Fixed partial dentures
  • Occlusion
  • Dental materials
  • Removable partial dentures

Associate’s Degree In Dental Lab Technology

An associate’s degree in dental lab technology is a step above the certificate program and definitely puts the dental technician in a better position to receive a higher salary.  In the associate’s program a student learns to work with a variety of materials and to construct and repair different types of dental prosthetic appliances.

Course structure for the associate’s degree in dental lab technology includes:

  • Fixed prosthodontics
  • Orthodontic appliances
  • Removable partial dentures
  • Dental anatomy and physiology
  • Dental laboratory materials
  • Dental history and professional ethics

The dental technician is a skilled artisan who creates corrective devices and replacements to restore the oral structure and tissues of the mouth and gums.

Dental  technicians with an associate’s degree have the opportunity to work in:

  • Military base dental laboratories
  • Dental product manufactures
  • Hospital dental clinics
  • Commercial dental laboratories
  • Private dental offices

Bachelor’s Degree In Dental Lab Technology

A bachelor’s degree in dental lab technology provides the student with intensive training in implant restoration, fixed prosthodontics, orthodontics, and removable prosthodontics.  Students work in modern facilities and learn the latest developments in dental lab technology

Course structure for the bachelor’s degree in dental lab technology includes:

  • Orthodontic laboratory
  • Ceramics
  • Dental materials science
  • Applied laboratory management
  • Complete dentures
  • Advanced fixed prosthodontics

Salary For Dental Lab Technicians

The salary of a dental lab technician on average is $36,990 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Most dental technicians are employed in commercial dental laboratories.  The facilities in which the dental technician works must be immaculate and well lighted as well as properly ventilated.  Most dental technicians will have their own work station or bench with special instruments and equipment such as polishing equipment, grinding equipment, and Bunsen burners.  The work of a dental technician is very delicate and consumes a great amount of time.  .

Dental Lab Technician Job Outlook

The outlook for dental technician employment is good, and there is expected to be little or no change for the next ten years.

The need for dental technicians will always be there, as age, accident, poor diet and care will always create the need for corrective devices and replacements.  As cosmetic prosthetics become less expensive, the demand for them will be greater which is another benefit for dental technicians.

There is a greater awareness of oral health care today and more individuals are working harder to maintain a healthy set of teeth, which will decrease the need for corrective devices and replacements.

In conclusion, a dental lab technician uses mold or impressions of a patient’s teeth and gums to create dentures, bridges, crowns and other dental appliances.  They work closely with the dentist but have little interaction with patients.  The work environment must be clean, well-lighted and well-ventilated.  Certificate or degree programs are also available as an option in order to get accreditation in this profession .

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