Becoming a dental technician in Australia – Job description of a dental technician

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A dentistry work experience student observing her mentor performing a routine procedure. Dental technicians are registered professionals who are skilled in the construction, repair and modification of false teeth (dentures) and other dental appliances including bridges and crowns. These professionals work closely with dentists and dental prosthetists and are an essential member of a dental team. The combined expertise of the practitioner and the technician is needed to ensure that the best outcomes are achieved for the patients.

 

What does a dental technician do?

As a dental technician, you would be responsible for translating written instructions and two-dimensional design diagrams into three-dimensional products that meet accepted mechanical and biological standards. A dental technician’s role encompasses a wide range of duties that focus primarily on the construction of fixed and removable dental appliances. Direct contact with the patient is limited. This specialist only comes face-to-face with patients in order to identify the exact tooth colour shade for maximum aesthetics.

This is a great career choice for someone who likes working with small precision tools and equipment, possesses outstanding manual dexterity and eye-hand coordination and can apply a high level of attention to precision and detail.

Some of the tasks that a dental technician does include:

  • Receiving and interpreting written orders from a dentist or dental prosthetist
  • Making plaster and stone models of the mouth and teeth from impressions that have been taken from the patient
  • Fabricating custom impression trays
  • Constructing wax replicas of the teeth or part or all of the mouth using the model
  • Cutting or moulding ceramic, plastic or metal materials to make appliances
  • Arranging artificial teeth for full or partial dentures
  • Designing and constructing removable and fixed metal and acrylic orthodontic appliances
  • Relining, repairing or modifying full or partial dentures

 

As a dental technician you need to have expert knowledge of the different methods and techniques that are involved in constructing a wide range of dental appliances. You must also know how to deal with the different types of materials that are used to fabricate these dental appliances.

 

Specialisation opportunities

With further specialisation, dental technicians can focus their work on one or more areas of dentistry including:

  • Restoration of natural teeth with crowns, inlays/onlays or veneers
  • Replacement of broken or missing teeth with partial or full dentures, bridges and dental implant prosthesis
  • Replacement of oral soft and hard structures, also called aesthetic reconstruction
  • Moving, retaining and protecting teeth. This is also called orthodontics and involves learning the application of mouth guards, stents, trays and splints
  • Aligning the jaw position. Also known as orthognathics, this involves the study and treatment of sleep apnoea and the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)

 

Job opportunities

There is a high demand for skilled dental technicians worldwide. The demand is higher for professionals working in specific areas such as crown & bridge in response to the growing trend in cosmetic dental surgery. The majority of dental technicians are employed in commercial dental laboratories or self-employed as the owner of a dental laboratory.  

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