Healthcare & Medical
Dental technicians construct and repair dentures and other dental appliances, including crowns, bridges and orthodontic appliances.
What does a Dental Technician do?
Dental technicians construct and repair dentures (false teeth) and other dental appliances, including crowns, bridges and orthodontic appliances.
As a dental technician, you could specialise within one of four key areas, which are:
- orthodontics – creating plastic or metal devices, such as braces, to straighten teeth
- crown and bridge work – constructing items which can be cemented in place
- prosthetics – producing plastic dentures or implants, some of which have metal inserts to help keep them straight
- maxillo-facial prosthetics – helping to reconstruct the faces of people damaged by accident or disease.
You would work with a wide range of materials such as gold, porcelain and plastic to design and make specialist devices to suit patients’ needs. You would use the latest techniques, equipment, instruments, and computer technology to carry out your duties.
You could work in a variety of settings, including private dental labs, government hospital dental facilities or the armed forces. In a private dental lab, you would create devices and appliances for a number of dental practices covering a wide geographical area. In a hospital setting, you might help dental surgeons by designing and building artificial parts for patients with facial injuries, cancer or cleft palate.
Key skills and interests
To become a dental technician, you would need:
- an interest and ability in science
- the ability to understand and interpret complex, technical instructions
- good practical skills and a steady hand
- the ability to concentrate for long periods
- good communication skills
- good eyesight and colour vision.
Working hours and conditions
You would usually work around 40 hours a week. In a commercial laboratory you might cover slightly longer hours and overtime may be available.
You would usually be based in a lab, working alone or as part of a team. If you are working in a hospital setting, you will have direct contact with dental and oral surgeons, and occasionally patients.
How to become an Dental Technician?
Entry Level Education
To become a dental technician you usually have to complete a VET qualification in dental technology. Entry may require employment in a dental laboratory for technical and work training.
You can also become a dental technician through an apprenticeship or traineeship in dental technology. Entry requirements may vary, but employers generally require junior secondary school certificate or equivalent.
Alternatively, you can become a dental technician by studying dental technology at university. Entry into degree courses usually requires you to gain your senior secondary school certificate or equivalent.English, biology, chemistry, mathematics and physics would be appropriate subjects to study prior to university.
Before undertaking clinical placements required by courses, students will need to obtain a National Police Certificate, a Provide First Aid Certificate, immunisations and a Working with Children Check or equivalent.
Employment of dental technicians is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations.
Ongoing research linking oral health and general health will likely continue to increase the demand for preventive dental services, such as orthodontic devices. As the large baby-boom population ages, and as people keep more of their original teeth than did previous generations, the need to maintain and treat teeth will continue to increase the need for services such as crowns and bridges.
People with new or expanded dental insurance coverage will also be more likely to visit a dentist than in the past. This will increase the demand for all dental services, including those performed by dental technicians.