technicians make and repair orthodontic devices such as dentures, bridges,
crowns, and braces. They use precision instruments and equipment such as
small hand drills, in an effort to create practical and esthetically
pleasing dental replacements. Using their artistic ability, dental
laboratory technicians create these devices using materials such as gold,
silver, porcelain, plastics, and stainless steel. They seldom interact
with patients, but instead work closely with, and under the direction of,
a licensed dentist. They must be able to follow detailed written
instructions so that the final product will enable the patient to regain
normal function. Dental laboratory technicians use molds and impressions
of patient's teeth to create the most accurate dentures and fixed bridges
as possible. Dental laboratory technicians can specialize in areas such as
orthodontic technician, crown and bridge technician, metal dental
technician, and dental ceramist. Anyone interested in this field should be
artistically inclined and enjoy working with their hands. Individuals must
also be able to precisely follow instructions and be able to sit in one
place for long periods of time.
Most dental laboratory technicians work in commercial dental laboratories,
which usually employ less than five technicians. Other areas of possible
employment exist in dentist's offices, hospitals, dental schools, the
military, and other companies than manufacture dental prosthetics. Some
dental laboratory technicians may be self-employed.
High School Preparation:
Students interested in a future as a dental laboratory technician should
take high school courses in biology, algebra, English, chemistry, art,
sculpting, anatomy and physiology, computer skills, health
occupations/medical professions education, history, and geometry.
Individuals interested in becoming a dental laboratory technician should
have a high school diploma or equivalent. Most students complete a
two-year certificate or associate degree program that is approved by the
Commission on Dental Accreditation. Individuals may also complete a
five-year apprenticeship program, which can be substituted for a degree
program. To become certified, students must pass an examination given by
the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology.
Students interested in dental laboratory technology should contact schools
for information on admission and course of study.
For educational institutions in
offering this course of study
Employment opportunities for dental laboratory technicians are expected to
grow fairly slowly through the year 2010. The US Department of Labor
predicts an increase of only 3%-9% over the next decade. This slow growth
is due to the small size of the profession and the improved oral health of
the overall population. There are some positives for the profession,
however. With more senior citizens retaining their teeth longer, this
segment of the population will require more sophisticated prosthetics for
longer periods of time. This will increase the demand for experienced
dental laboratory technicians and their services.
Average Annual Salary
National Association of Dental Laboratories
555 East Braddock Road
Alexandria, VA 22314-2106
Phone: (703) 683-5263
American Dental Education Association
1625 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 667-9433
American Dental Association
211 E. Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611
Phone: (312) 440-2390
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