Job description: what does a dental technician do?
The dental technician is a dual training occupation that combines traditional craftsmanship and state-of-the-art technology. Due to its complexity, the standard duration of the training is three and a half years. The final step is the journeyman’s examination.
The area of responsibility of a dental technician includes the production of fixed and removable dentures such as crowns, bridges, dentures, or implants and devices for regulating teeth and jaws, such as braces. Splints and sports mouthguards are also manufactured in the dental technology laboratory.
Dental technicians have a very varied job that combines several craft professions: Similar to the cutting machine operator. They use milling machines to manufacture precisely fitting prostheses. Together with a goldsmith, they work with precious metals, and with a metalworker, they use solder, saw file, and welding equipment. The production of plaster casts and dentures from moist ceramic powder and the final firing in the oven are reminiscent of the profession of ceramist. The shaping, modeling, and coloring of dentures, in turn, is very much an artistic activity.
Based on the impressions or the denture templates that the dentist has previously created of the patient’s jaw, the dental technician first creates a hard plaster model, the so-called master model. This forms the basis for all further work steps, for example, replicating the missing teeth from wax. It is used, among other things, to produce a negative mold made of silicone, which is required for the production of dentures. Another important step is testing the plaster model in the articulator. This device simulates the patient’s jaw movements and helps to ensure that the two rows of teeth in the mouth are correctly occluded.
The most common form of the dental prosthesis is the model cast prosthesis. Their basis is a framework made of a metal alloy. The prosthesis saddle, made of gum-colored plastic and carries artificial teeth, is attached to this. Metal brackets ensure that the dentures will later stay in place in the jaw. To manufacture the denture framework, the dental technician must first melt the metal alloy in the melting furnace and pour it into the negative mold that was previously made. The repair and cleaning of removable dentures and orthodontic devices are also part of his / her duties. Dental technicians are primarily employed in dental laboratories, dental clinics, and in the laboratories of large dental practices.
Average salary: how much does a dental technician make?
The average dental technician makes $54,700 per year. The lowest earned less than $41,000, and the highest earned more than $69,000.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Dental technician responsibilities and requirements
No specific school leaving certificate is required for training as a dental technician. However, a good knowledge of the subjects of physics, mathematics, and handicrafts or technology proves to be helpful. Also, many employers value an independent, self-reliant way of working.
The manufacture of dentures requires the highest level of precision. So concentration and a prudent, precise way of working are necessary here. Because numerous small parts are used in the manufacture of dentures, skill also plays a significant role. Other essential prerequisites for the job of a dental technician are manual skills and technical understanding. Only those who have them can adequately use the various devices, tools, and machines used in a dental laboratory.
Also not to be underestimated are a sense of aesthetics and a trained eye for color nuances. Dentures should not just be functional but should give the patient back an appearance that is as appealing as possible. Dental technicians must therefore be able to design the shape and color of the artificial teeth so that they fit harmoniously into the jaw. An excellent spatial imagination is also essential here to visualize the tooth shapes and tooth positions in the mouth based on the impressions.
The job of a dental technician requires a lot of patience and perseverance. To manufacture a prosthesis, for example, many and sometimes lengthy work steps are required. He/she is under time pressure because the dentures usually have to be ready by a specific date. Anyone who works in a dental practice with an attached laboratory often has patient contact. He/she, therefore, need empathy and a feeling for the needs of the patient.
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