Dental laboratory technicians make dental prostheses, which are replacements for natural teeth to help people eat, chew, talk or smile. The dental laboratory technician needs artistic aptitude for detailed and precise work, manual dexterity and skill in using small hand instruments and equipment.
Technicians are valuable members of the dental care team even though they rarely work directly with patients. They receive instruction from dentists by following written instructions and using impressions (molds) of the patient’s teeth or soft tissue to create full dentures, crowns, bridges, or orthodontic appliances. They often perform much of their work without close supervision.
Experienced technicians can find well-paid positions in commercial laboratories based on their technical or communication skills, become a part of the larger laboratory teams, or potentially start their own laboratories. Technicians may teach dental technology courses in educational programs. They may apply their knowledge to research, sales and/or marketing of prosthetic materials, equipment or instruments.
Services performed by dental technicians will always be needed. As the population grows older, the demand for prostheses (which improves patients’ nutrition, appearance and ability to speak clearly) will continue to rise.