What does a dental technician do?
Although they don’t work directly with patients, dental technicians (or dental technologists) are an integral part of the dental team. Without them, dentists would not be able to offer patients a full range of treatments and services. Dental technicians work closely with a dentist’s prescription to make, repair and alter a wide range of dental appliances, including dentures, bridges, crowns and orthodontic appliances, which helps to improve the patient’s speech, appearance and chewing ability. There are 4 specialist areas of dental technology:
- Prosthodontic: designing and making dentures
- Orthodontic: making braces
- Conservation: making crowns and bridges
- Maxillo-facial: helping with facial reconstruction if the patient is suffering from facial injury or a facial disease
Dental technicians can work in several of these areas or choose one to specialise in.
What skills and qualifications do you need to become a dental technician?
Dental technicians need to have a high level of manual dexterity, technical skill and excellent attention to detail.
You must be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC) to work as a dental technician. To become a dental technician, you need to obtain a BTEC (Business and Technology Education Council) National Diploma in Dental Technology (which takes 2 years) or a BSc in Dental Technology (which takes 3 years). You can choose to do a BTEC full time, or you could get a post as a trainee dental technician and do the course part time. BScs are normally offered on a full time basis.
Entry requirements may vary for different institutions, but generally you need 4 GCSEs grades A-C, including science, maths and English, to study for a BTEC. For a BSc you will normally also require 2 A Levels or equivalent.
Most dental technicians work in dental labs, but some work in hospitals and general practices. Experienced dental technicians may become senior technicians, manage their own lab or go into sales. With some additional training, dental technicians could go into teaching and research roles. They could also specialise as orthodontic therapists or clinical dental technicians after undertaking extra training in clinical skills and sciences.
Dental Technologists Association (DTA)
What is the DTA?
The DTA is a source of information on all aspects of being a professional dental technician and offers advice on courses and training if you want to become a dental technician.
What does the DTA do?
- Promotes the advancement of the dental technology profession
- Provides support and information to dental technicians in all matters related to their industry
- Promotes continuing professional development and education for dental technicians
- Publishes a quarterly journal The Technologist for its members