How to Become a Dental Laboratory Technician

Overview and Job Duties

Dental laboratory technology involves manufacturing remedial devices and a clean replacement of natural teeth, or sometimes with artificial teeth.  In order to provide quality services to patients, a laboratory technologist works on a comprehensive scale from being a helping hand to dentists that makes him/her an integral part of the clinical team. Their work consists of constructing and repairing dental appliances and partial dentures, which can only be possible through proper education and relevant work experience.

Dental laboratory technicians follow orders and instructions of dentists to make dental appliances. For this, they mix pastes and plaster to get molds filled from impressions and cover framework and molds with different mixtures. When dental appliances are created, they put it on a device that shows the jaw movement. They also examine it to check if there are any gaps in the gums and note the shape and size of other teeth. If the appliances do not fit properly, they have to carve it as well.

Furthermore, dental laboratory technicians also repair and fix damaged and cracked teeth. For all these tasks, they make use of small hand tools like files polishers, wax, porcelain and plastic to make prosthetic appliances. These technicians can also specialize in different areas like crowns and bridges, complete dentures, orthodontic appliances, ceramics and implants.

Career Outlook

Dental laboratory technicians work in dental laboratories and science labs. With tremendous opportunities of advancement, they might become head of highly regarded laboratories, or attain supervisory positions, while in local areas; they may setup private laboratories of their own to contribute in this field. Furthermore, dental laboratory technicians can teach in various schools, colleges and universities and make use of their expertise in sales, marketing, research, equipment and instrument studies, and prosthetic materials. There has been an increased demand of these professional due to the use of new technologies.

Additionally, opportunities are available in hospitals, dental schools and companies that make dental prosthetic materials. The number of people employed in May 2011, estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics was 37,600.

Salary

Dental laboratory technicians on average earn $38,550 yearly, according to a 2011 report by Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Education Requirements

A lab technician school could be the first step to learn basics of dental laboratory technology. A student interested in studying in dental laboratory technician school must have a high school diploma. According to the American Dental Association, a two year Associate’s Degree or a certificate program should be completed by individuals. A certification allows students to gain a superior position at work. The National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology (NADL) can be acquired following three exams that could be completed in four years. This four year program is remarkable for a bright future and better job opportunities in health-care sector.

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