A dental laboratory technician creates and fixes a wide range of dental hardware for patients, such as prosthetic teeth, crowns, bridges, and other orthodontic or dental appliances. The dental lab tech jobs can vary from the routine to some very specialized practices. Sometimes dental tech jobs change according to the setting. Commercial dental laboratories, dental offices, and hospitals are a few of the many jobs that are available. In addition, dental lab tech jobs that require specialization include orthodontic technicians, dental ceramists, denture specialists, and crown or bridge technicians.
The majority of dental lab techs are employed by commercial dental laboratories. The labs are typically small, private businesses – often owned by the lab tech. However, there are some labs that have been known to employ many dental lab techs. A smaller portion of the dental lab tech community is employed by dental offices. In those cases, they usually work for a group practice that has numerous patients and several dentists.
Although many people do not think of hospitals when they consider dental lab tech jobs, they are also a good source of employment Sometimes hospitals have special dental departments, especially veterans’ hospitals. In other cases, special dental clinics and the military have uses for skilled dental laboratory technicians.
Among the specialized dental lab tech jobs, an orthodontic technician is among the most well-known. An orthodontic technician uses metal and plastic to fabricate and repair appliances that are used to straighten teeth. Examples of orthodontic appliances include retainers, positioners, and teeth bands.
Another of the many specialized dental lab tech jobs is the dental ceramist. She applies layers of porcelain or acrylic over metal framing to fabricate crowns or bridges. It can be a detailed job because it is important that the color of the porcelain or acrylic match the natural color of the patient’s teeth. Without such attention to detail, the newly fabricated tooth would be noticeable and not blend well with the rest of the teeth in the patient’s mouth.
Denture specialists are another form of dental lab technicians. They can set the teeth in the base that is used for the dentures. Their job is particularly useful for patients receiving complete dental restoration. Denture technicians can also be used to make removable partial dentures for those patients who have only lost a few teeth. In that case, the frame of the tooth is covered with porcelain or acrylic to create a new tooth or two.
In general, most dental lab tech jobs are “behind the scenes.” They may have limited patient contact, since the majority of their time is spent fabricating the perfect dental appliances out of the appropriate material. Materials can range from plastic, ceramic, porcelain, stainless steel, or even gold, silver or platinum. Their tools are precision tools such as wax carvers, scrapers, fine electric drills, buffing wheels, and electric lathes. They are responsible for making patients comfortable and happy with the final outcome of their dental hardware.