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How to become a Dental Technician

dental technician careers

What does a Dental Technician do?

The work of a dental technician can include designing, building, repairing and adjusting dental devices for patients who have lost teeth, or require assistance in correcting the appearance and performance of their teeth.

The three main areas of work are:

  • Orthodontics – creating plastic or metal devices to re-align teeth
  • Crown and bridge work – constructing restorative appliances which can be cemented in place
  • Prosthetics - producing plastic dentures or implants, some of which have metal inserts to help keep them straight.
Some dental technicians specialise in one area of the work.

Dental technicians use a wide range of specialist techniques, equipment, instruments, and computer technology.

Most dental technicians work in private commercial dental laboratories, creating devices and appliances for a number of general dental practitioners over a wide geographical area. A small number of technicians work in hospitals and also help in dental surgery, designing and constructing artificial parts of the face for patients with facial or jaw injuries, cancers or congenital abnormality such as cleft palate. Other dental technicians work in research, teaching, or the Defence Dental Agency dental laboratories of the Armed Forces.

What's the working environment like working as a Dental Technician?

Dental technicians in the NHS usually work 37.5 hours a week, although work in surgery or burns units can mean irregular hours, including on-call duties. Working in a commercial laboratory would involve slightly longer hours and overtime may be available. Part-time work is possible.

Dental technicians work in laboratories, either alone or as part of a team. In hospitals, they will have direct contact with dental and oral surgeons. Generally, they do not have contact with the patients.

What does it take to become a Dental Technician?

To be a dental technician you should:

  • have excellent manual dexterity
  • be able to concentrate for long periods of time and pay good attention to detail
  • be able to understand and interpret complicated, technical instructions
  • be capable of high precision and accurate work
  • have good eyesight and colour perception
  • have a degree of artistic flair
  • have an interest and ability in science.

Dental Technician Career Opportunities

Dental technicians may have opportunities to set up a laboratory and become self-employed. There are also prospects to work abroad.

Promotion to senior or chief technician is usually dependent on the individual gaining further qualifications. In large commercial laboratories there may be opportunities in quality control, sales and management. Some technicians go into teaching.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Dental Technician that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

NHS Learning and Development Service
Tel: 08000 150 850
Email: learning@nhscareers.nhs.uk

Dental Technicians Assocation (DTA)
PO Box 6520
Tel: 0870 243 0753

The General Dental Council (GDC)
37 Wimpole Street
Tel: 020 7887 3800

Dental Laboratories Association Ltd
44-88 Wollaton Road
Tel: 0115 925 4888

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