What Do Dental Laboratory Technicians Do?
A dental laboratory technician works with dentures and other dental appliances. They have to construct full or partial dentures. They also may repair dentures and dental appliances.Across the United States, this type of occupation is expected to see a 3% rise. That could translate to approximately 1,420 new positions annually.
Dental Laboratory Technicians Skills and Abilities
If you want to become a dental laboratory technician, you need to have certain knowledge, skills and abilities. You should be familiar with the technical aspects of dentistry, design and production. You should be familiar with the English language because you will have to communicate with dentists via the written word and speech. You also need to have good time management and self-monitoring skills in order to ensure that you provide the customer with a high quality product. It is helpful for a dental laboratory technician to have finger dexterity, arm-hand steadiness and control precision.
Dental Laboratory Technicians Duties
As a dental laboratory technician, you would be expected to:
- Examine models and impressions as well as read specifications in order to design and produce dental products.
- Use special tools to test dentures and appliances to ensure they conform to standards.
- Form dental prostheses by melting metals, plasters, porcelains or acrylic pasts and pouring them into molds.
- Evaluate functionality of tooth models by using an apparatus that mimics jaw movement and bite.
- Make, modify and mend dentures, crowns, inlays, bridges, retainers or other appliances for straightening teeth.
- Repair dentures by replacing lining, wire sections and missing teeth.
- Get impression trays and wax bite blocks ready for patient use.
- Use acrylic resin to fill low or chipped spots in the surface of dentures and other devices.
These are a few duties that you might have to do as a dental laboratory technician.
Dental Laboratory Technicians Tools and Technology
Part of having the skills necessary to be a dental laboratory technician is being able to use the tools and technology associated with the job. You should be familiar with:
- Dental Hand Instruments
- Dental Polishing Machines
- Crucible Formers
- Flask Presses
- Dental Ovens
- Conventional Lathes
- Accounting Software
- Graphics or Photo Imaging Software
- Word Processing SoftwareWhen you are able to use
These tools and technologies, you can do the duties of a dental laboratory technician much more efficiently.
Education and Training for Dental Laboratory Technicians
In order to become a dental laboratory technician you have to have at least your high school diploma. Some institutions require that you have an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree. However, many of these positions do most of the technical training you need right on the job. If you do go to college, you should take courses like:
- Dental Lab Technology
- Dental Anatomy
- Dental Materials
- Denture Processes
These courses give you the knowhow to be confident in your job as a dental laboratory technician.
Dental Laboratory Technicians Salary
The salary for this type of occupation depends greatly on your previous experience, your education and where you live. The average dental laboratory technician in the United States makes about $36,800. Someone who has less experience and less education may find themselves in the lower 10%, and make about $22,100. Someone with more experience and more education may find themselves in the upper 10%, and make about $61,400.
Dental Laboratory Technicians Jobs by Geography
Where you live can determine how much you make and the likelihood that you find a job as a dental laboratory technician. In states like Alaska, Massachusetts and New York, the average salary is higher than the national average. You have a better chance of getting a position in California, Florida and New York because they have more jobs as a dental laboratory technician. However, Utah, Alaska and Wyoming are the three states expected to see the biggest increase in the occupation. When you think about becoming a dental technician, you have to consider the education you want to pursue and where you want to live.