What is a Dental Laboratory Technician?

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  • Written By: P.S. Jones
  • Edited By: Lindsay D.
  • Last Modified Date: 09 December 2018
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A dental laboratory technician works in a lab environment making and repairing dental prosthesis, including dentures and dental implants. Unlike other health care careers, a dental lab tech rarely interacts with patients and instead gets all the information from the dentist. When a dental patient needs restoration work or prosthetics, his dentist takes impressions, molds and measurements. The dentist then sends the information over the dental lab. There, the technician uses the required materials to construct the prostheses and sends it back to the dentist for the implantation.

A dental laboratory technician is an allied health care position. The workers in these fields do not hold the medical degree a doctor or a nurse would have. Still, these positions are essential to the flow of a functioning healthcare system. Other allied health care professions include rehabilitation counselors, occupational therapists and pharmacy technicians.

Dental laboratory technicians often work in large commercial dental laboratories. They can also be found working in hospitals, dental schools and private dental practices. Technicians work with a variety of materials to construct the dentures, crowns and veneers. Depending on the day, they may work with plastics or alloys as wells a stainless steel or porcelain.


Most dental prosthetics aim to ensure functionality while still being aesthetically pleasing. Therefore, a dental laboratory technician should be both mechanically and artistically inclined. He should be comfortable working with small hand tools and minute details. He also needs to have a firm grasp of math, communication and chemistry concepts.

The requirements to become a dental laboratory technician differ from country to country. In the United States, a student is required to attend a two-year program at a technical school, university or dental school. Depending on the institution, he will then receive an associate degree or a certificate in dental laboratory sciences. In rare cases, the student might attend a four-year program and receive a Bachelor’s Degree of Science in dental technology.

There is no licensing requirement for a dental laboratory technician. Some may take a further step and become certified by passing the Certified Dental Technician (CDT) exam. The CDT exam is administered by the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology Certification (NBC). It is not required to work as a technician, but those who do earn certification can specialize in several areas. Specialties include ceramics, orthodontics and complete dentures.



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