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What Does a Dental Technician Do?

By Amy Hunter
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A dental technician is a person trained to build prostheses for a dental patient. These devices include full or partial dentures, crowns and veneers as well as orthodontic appliances. Each device the technician builds is custom made for the patient it will be used on.

Dental technicians receive information from the patient’s dentist that includes molds, or impressions, of the patient’s mouth. The dentist also provides exact detail about what exactly he wants the technician to do. The technician is trained to take this information and, working with the molds, build the specific prostheses required by the dental patient.

Dental technicians perform most of their work with small hand tools. To do this type of work all day, they must be extremely detail-oriented and patient. Accuracy is a key component of the job description. If the appliance is not made properly, it must be sent back to the technician or even scrapped and a new one built.

Dental technicians receive their education in a variety of ways. While some technicians start work directly out of high school, and receive continuing education on the job, most attend a training program. Vocational schools, technical colleges and community colleges all typically offer either a two year degree or certificate program. Some four-year schools offer a baccalaureate degree in dental technology.

Dental technicians typically work in commercial laboratories. Most dentists send this type of work out, rather than completing it in the office. Each laboratory may have several dentists that they perform work for. Some dental laboratories make a full range of prostheses while others specialize in particular areas.

The fact that the work completed by a dental technician is done perhaps miles away from the patient underscores the importance of accuracy. The technician builds the prostheses based solely on notes from the dentist and an impression of the patient’s mouth. The appliance is shipped back to the dentist and is expected to fit with no further adjustments.

The career options for a dental technician are growing. As cosmetic surgery becomes more common, the demand for work completed by the technicians grows. Also, as the population continues to age, the need for dental prostheses continues to grow. The job market is expected to expand in dental laboratories, private dental offices and dental schools.

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Discussion Comments

By anon331277 — On Apr 22, 2013

You are seeing a patient for a partial denture repair and the patient asks your advice regarding pain she is having from an existing second premolar.

Outline how you could help this patient and under which principle of the standards for dental professionals this would relate to. Will someone help me with this question?

By wander — On May 16, 2011

@mandydances - A dental assistant and a dental technician are two very different jobs.

While a dental technician usually works off site, a dental assistant is always located in a dentist's office.

The work they do also differs greatly. A dental technician is a craftsperson at the core of their profession. They specialize in making prosthetics for patients at the request of dentists.

A dental assistant helps clean patient's teeth, take x-rays and is also responsible for some secretarial work.

As far as I know, both jobs also have different training and pay scales.

By lonelygod — On May 14, 2011

I remember when my mother needed to get a full set of dentures for the first time. It required a lot of work to make sure that they were made perfectly.

At first, my mother's dentist took molded impressions of her teeth and sent them to an off site location where a dental technician did his or her work. After about 2 weeks she received her new pair of teeth. Unfortunately, they needed some modifications. Dentures can be very painful if not perfectly made.

The dental technician that worked on her dentures made the changes needed, and after a few tries they fit perfectly.

If you are looking into getting dentures, remember to let your dentist know if you feel any discomfort. It can be fixed.

By mandydances — On Apr 25, 2011

Is dental assistant training anything like that of a dental technician?

I was hoping to do some of the things a dental technician does while in a dental assistant program. It sounds like they are more different than I thought.

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