Dental Care

Dental Technician - A Job with a Bite

Some Things to Know About Being a Dental Technician.

Individuals interested in becoming a dental technician will need to be able to work with small hand tools, as well as have a good eye for attractive replacements for natural teeth.

In many cases, your ability to create a good match for surrounding teeth will mean the difference between a beautiful smile and an ugly one.

Your ability to create serviceable designs will also affect how the patient speaks and chews for years to come.

Even though you will not be working directly with patients, you will be playing a key role in ensuring that patients get the best dental care possible.

Typically, you will receive notes and mouth impressions from a dentist that will be used to create a number of appliances. This includes veneers, dentures, braces, and crowns.

No matter whether you are asked to construct one tooth or several, you will follow the same basic procedure.

Typical Work Structure and Materials Used

Not so long ago, dental technicians were somewhat limited in terms of materials and tools that could be used to create appliances.

For example, if an individual needed a crown replaced, you would have been limited to gold, silver, or some type of alloy. As may be expected, these metals produced durable appliances, but they were not always as attractive as natural looking teeth.

Today, you can work with a number of different colored porcelains, metals, and modeling materials. In some cases, you may also be able to work with resins and other polymers.

Chances are, you would be amazed at the way you can use all of these different materials to fabricate teeth that mimic the natural colors and shapes of real ones.

When you are interested in being a dental technician, it may be of some help to know more about the process associated with creating an appliance for a patient.

As may be expected, when you attend classes, you will learn more about how to use equipment and materials required for each step. You will also gain valuable insight into the characteristics associated with appliances that will look good and remain serviceable for a reasonable amount of time.

Basic operating Process for a Dental Technician

  1. You will receive a prescription from a dentist with details about the appliance that needs to be created. This includes impressions, or molds made of the patient's mouth.

  2. Since a mold is something like a photographic negative, you will need to fill it with plaster in order to create a working model that will be used to help you understand the spatial relationships of each patient's mouth. This model will be created on an armature that will also help you align bite patterns and jaw motion.

  3. As you study the model, you will develop information related to the shape and size of existing teeth, as well as the gaps that need to be filled. At that point, you will be ready to create a wax model of all appliances that will be made for the patient.

  4. You will create a mold based on the wax model. This, in turn, will be filled with metal, or other materials in order to create the core of the appliance.

  5. Once the core is ready, you will prepare the surface so that porcelain will bond to it. In most cases, you will have to apply porcelain in layers so that the color and shape match the surrounding teeth. After you are satisfied that the porcelain layer looks right, the appliance will be fired in a kiln in order to fuse it to the core material.

  6. After the appliance cools, you will grind down the porcelain in order to polish it and finish off any remaining details.

Future Opportunities for a Dental Technician

Once you complete your degree, you can find employment in dental laboratories, private dental practices, hospitals, and dental schools. If you work in a private office, you may either work alone or in a team.

On the other hand, if you work for a larger facility, you may have as many as 200 other co-workers. If you are good at your job, there are always opportunities to be promoted to team leader and supervisory positions.

If you are fascinated by the type of work that you will be doing as a dental technician, you may also want to know more about schooling requirements, salary, career potential, and future work settings. This information will be discussed in our dental technician career article in this series.

We sincerely hope that you will take this opportunity to learn more about a rewarding and enjoyable career.

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