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Dental Laboratory Technician Overview - Preparation - Day In The Life -
Earnings - Employment - Career Path Forecast - Professional Organizations -
Overview PowerPoint - Overview Podcast


Dental laboratory technicians fill prescriptions from dentists for crowns, bridges, dentures, and other dental prosthetics. First, dentists send a specification of the item to be manufactured, along with an impression or mold of the patient's mouth or teeth. With new technology, a technician may receive a digital impression rather than a physical mold. Then dental laboratory technicians, also called dental technicians, create a model of the patient's mouth by pouring plaster into the impression and allowing it to set. They place the model on an apparatus that mimics the bite and movement of the patient's jaw. The model serves as the basis of the prosthetic device. Technicians examine the model, noting the size and shape of the adjacent teeth, as well as gaps within the gumline. Based upon these observations and the dentist's specifications, technicians build and shape a wax tooth or teeth model, using small hand instruments called wax spatulas and wax carvers. The wax model is used to cast the metal framework for the prosthetic device.

After the wax tooth has been formed, dental technicians pour the cast and form the metal and, using small hand-held tools, prepare the surface to allow the metal and porcelain to bond. They then apply porcelain in layers, to arrive at the precise shape and color of a tooth. Technicians place the tooth in a porcelain furnace to bake the porcelain onto the metal framework, and then adjust the shape and color, with subsequent grinding and addition of porcelain to achieve a sealed finish. The final product is a nearly exact replica of the lost tooth or teeth.

In some laboratories, technicians perform all stages of the work, whereas in other labs, each technician does only a few. Dental laboratory technicians can specialize in 1 of 5 areas: orthodontic appliances, crowns and bridges, complete dentures, partial dentures, or ceramics. Job titles can reflect specialization in these areas. For example, technicians who make porcelain and acrylic restorations are called dental ceramists.

Dental Laboratory Technician Resources

Online

Overview:
Overview of the work of Dental Laboratory Technicians
Preparation:
Programs, Degree Fields
Day in the Life:
Specialty Areas, the Workplace
Earnings:
Salary Ranges, Statistics
Employment:
Employment Options
Career Path Forecast:
Predictions for the field
Professional Organizations:
Resources, Networking, Support
Podcast:
Overview of the work of Dental Laboratory Technicians
Internet Resources:
Commission on Dental Accreditation, American Dental Association
National Board for Certification in Dental Technology
National Association of Dental Laboratories

Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.
 


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