A dental laboratory technician is a dental professional that uses the molds of a patient's teeth to create dentures, crowns, veneers and other structures to correct the teeth. In order to become a dental laboratory technician, a person must attend a two-year program at a dental school, community college or vocational school. Upon completion of the program, the student earns an associate's degree. Also, some schools offer a bachelor's degree program. No matter which school a student decides to attend in order to become a dental laboratory technician, he or she must make sure that the program is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association.
When a person who wants to become a dental laboratory technician earns a degree in this field, he or she must pass an exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology. After earning certification, the student becomes a certified dental technician (CDT). The technician can then specialize in several areas, including crown and bridge, partial dentures, complete dentures, and orthodontics or ceramics.
A person who wants to become a dental laboratory technician will use specialized skills to create dentures or bridges in order to approve the appearance of patients who have missing teeth. He or she will also create crowns to correct the shape and size of teeth as well. The technician will also manufacture veneers in order to improve the appearance and performance of the patient's teeth. These devices manufactured to correct teeth are made from a variety of materials, including porcelain, plastic, wax, alloys, steel, and other materials. The dental lab technician uses small hand-held tools to create the devices and employs special machines to grind and polish the materials used in his or her work.
People who excel at performing intricate work with their hands will probably do well as dental laboratory technicians. Those who are detail-oriented and are able to work with little supervision will also do well in this career. A dental technician must closely follow the directions of a dentist and work with complex equipment to correctly manufacture the dental devices patients need to improve their teeth.
Dental technicians do not have a great deal of contact with patients. However, the important work they do allows dentists to provide patients with attractive teeth that function in an effective manner. Whether a patient receives crowns, veneers, dentures or bridges, the devices need to be created by a skilled professional who is able to use molds and detailed instructions to manufacture dental devices that will enhance the teeth of each patient.