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Dental Technician

Dental technicians construct and repair dentures (false teeth) and other dental appliances including crowns and bridges. Dental technicians work closely with dental prosthetists and dentists in the construction, modification and repair of dentures and other dental appliances.

Overview

  • What is a dental technician?

    A dental technician (or dental mechanic) is an essential member of the dental team who is highly skilled in the design, construction, repair and adjustment of a variety of dental appliances. They are non-registered professionals who work from a written prescription and direct communication with the dental prosthetist, dentist or specialist dentist. The combined expertise of the technician and practitioner is needed to ensure that quality outcomes are achieved for the patients.
    The dental technician translates two-dimensional design diagrams and written instructions into three-dimensional products according to accepted biological and mechanical principles, and can specialise their work to one or more areas of dentistry:

    • Restoring natural teeth (crowns, inlays/onlays, veneers);
    • Replacing teeth (bridges, partial and full dentures, dental implant prosthesis);
    • Replacing oral soft and hard structures (aesthetic reconstruction);
    • Moving, retaining and protecting teeth (orthodontics: mouthguards, splints, trays, stents); and
    • Aligning the jaw position (orthognathics: TMJ, sleep apnoea, etc.).

    A dental technician career would be a good dentistry position for you if you like working with tools and equipment, can apply a high level of attention to detail and precision (accuracy), have good time management (efficient) and possess good eye-hand coordination and manual dexterity. In addition, if you have an artistic ability to construct form and design you have some of the qualities that make you well suited to pursue a dental technician career.

  • What do dental technicians do?

    The dental technician’s role includes a variety of duties that are focused on the fabrication of fixed and removable dental appliances. They work closely with the practitioner and only have direct contact with the patient for the purpose of assessing an accurate colour shade for maximum aesthetics.
    As part of dental laboratory services, a dental technician career in New South Wales may include:

    • Receive and interpret written orders from a dental prosthetist or dentist;
    • Make plaster and stone models of the mouth and teeth from impressions that have been taken by a dental prosthetist or dentist;
    • Construct custom impression trays for the dental prosthetist or dentist to use;
    • Build up wax replicas of part or all of the mouth and/or teeth on  model;
    • Replicate the jaw positions using models on articulating equipment;
    • Form, cut or mould plastic, metal or ceramic materials to make appliances using casting, CAD/CAM and thermoforming equipment;
    • Use direct vision or specialised equipment to record tooth shades;
    • Arrange artificial teeth for full or partial dentures;
    • Use manual skills to construct ceramic restorations;
    • Design and construct fixed and removable acrylic and metal orthodontic appliances
    • Polish and finish all work prior to being placed in the patient's mouth; and
    • Reline, repair or modify full or partial dentures.

    Dental technicians use a high degree of technical ability, training and skills that involve a diverse range of techniques that include plaster casting, electro-spot welding, metal casting, metal polishing, wax modelling, ceramics, wire bending, electroplating and sandblasting. They are highly knowledgeable of the appropriate methods to constructwide range of items and how to deal with the variety of materials.

    Dental technicians are  no longer registered by The Dental Technicians Registration Board of NSW, which no longer exists..

    However, appliances are classified by the TGA as custom made medical devices, whether made locally or imported.

    Visit tga.gov.au/custom-made-medical-devices, for more information regarding the obligations imposed on suppliers or sponsors. Briefly, these devices must satisfy the required performance and standards, in particular the six principles in the regulations. These devices are also governed by provisions in the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), http://consumerlaw.gov.au.

  • Where do dental technicians work?

    A dental technology profession offers men and women of all ages, races and ethnic backgrounds exceptional dentistry career opportunities to work as technicians, educators, researchers, sales and marketing managers, inventors, editors and consultants in an array of flexible work schedules.

    The majority of dental technicians are employed in commercial dental laboratories or self-employed as the owner of a dental laboratory. There is currently a strong demand for dental technicians in regional and rural locations in most states and territories of Australia.

    Technician: Dental technicians can work in commercial dental laboratories, private dental laboratories in general and specialist dental practices, hospitals, public sector dental health services and the armed forces as well as independently as a laboratory owner. Dental technicians are able to concentrate their work to a particular area of dental technology that includes orthodontic/orthognathic, crown & bridge, cosmetics, general prostheses and implantology. Dental technicians will provide their services to a number of local practitioners with some offering a postal service to work with dentists from a wide area. Advanced dental technology positions within a laboratory appointed on experience include Senior/Chief Technician and Quality Controller.

    Educator: Dental technicians can apply the skills and knowledge from their work experience in teaching some of the technical aspects of dentistry to students in all of the dental sciences in the TAFE and University programmes. This is a dental career avenue that can lead toward advanced degrees.

    Researcher: Dental technicians have a significant role to play in formulating new perspectives in dental materials and their influence in the oral cavity and on the environment, as well as general principles of dental treatments, mouth physiology and hygiene. Research is a component of advanced degrees and can be conducted in the dental laboratory, hospital or training program.

    Sales and Marketing Manager: Dental technicians can be employed as a technical advisor by product and service companies in the dental laboratory industry to lead product development and professional and public marketing campaigns. The work involves building customer relationships, identifying and presenting the market and the customer requirements as well as organising and participating in trade exhibitions.

    Inventors: Dental technicians are in a unique position to develop, patent and produce innovative dental appliances and new production processes that offer ethical and quality outcomes in dentistry. Self-motivation and building upon experience towards continual improvement are the key elements in this role.

    Editor: Dental technicians can apply their skills and knowledge toward informing and educating the dental profession on current issues, techniques and research. This position can involve a professional magazine, journal or textbook and requires writing skills, self-motivation, good organisational and time management skills (deadlines), attention to detail and creativity.

    Consultant: Dental technicians who concentrate their work in a specific area of dentistry and have achieved a high level of integrity and quality in their workmanship can choose to share their achievements with dental professionals on the speaker circuit to deliver educational lectures. Additionally, dental technicians can be employed by dental laboratory companies to create and deliver educational courses to healthcare professionals.

    Statistics on the Australian labour market - dental hygienist, therapist, technician
     

How to become a dental technician

  • How do you become a dental technician in New South Wales?

    Dental technology offers excellent career opportunities for the high school graduate and non-traditional student (i.e. an individual who is over 23 years of age, an individual seeking a career change or re-entry or an individual from a culturally diverse background).

    To become a qualified dental technician and achieve a dental career, you need to gain a tertiary level qualification with the minimum standard being a two year Diploma in Dental Technology.

    New South Wales offers a two-year full time Diploma course at the Sydney Institute, Randwick Campus.

    • Randwick Institute of Technical and Further Education – TAFE Digital

    Entry into this course is based on an application process. Visit TAFE Digital website for up to date information.
    Your entry to the New South Wales diploma program is based on your collective education and training, including education and training undertaken in another country. Relevance of the course to your career plans and goals is also taken into consideration.

    If you are a non-traditional student the selection criteria is open for recognition of skills and knowledge that you may have gained through previous studies, the workplace and life experiences. You may be entitled to gain recognition that will exempt you from attending one or more modules.

    The Mutual Recognition Act of 1992 allows for dental technician graduates and registered dental technicians to apply for registration to practise their equivalent occupation in any state or territory in Australia as well as New Zealand (Trans Tasman Agreement).

  • If you are considering a dental technician career you should:

    • Take high school courses in health, biology, chemistry, mathematics, English, industrial arts and computers to HSC level.
    • Apply for work experience in a dental laboratory
    • Have good near-sighted and colour vision
    • To perform independent detailed and precise work
    • Have good interpersonal communication skills
    • To give full attention to what others are saying
    • To provide clear ideas and details
    • Have good manual dexterity
    • To quickly move your hands to grasp, manipulate and assemble objects
    • Have a working knowledge of computers
    • To design, calculate and process using advanced technological equipment
    • Be able to prepare, understand and act on written materials (letters, reports, summaries)
    • To analyse, plan, organise and problem solve
    • Have good organisational and time management skills
    • Enjoy working with others in a team environment
    • Be interested in having an influence in the delivery of oral health care

Career Paths

  • Dental Technician Job Opportunities

    Dental Technology is a global profession and there is a high demand for skilled dental technicians around the world. This demand is growing for those working in specific areas such as crown & bridge and associated work in response to the increasing occurrence of cosmeticdentistry . A growing population in Australia and the demanding developments in technology create strong dental technicians employment opportunities. Demand has been significantly reduced in recent years by imported appliances.
     

  • What career paths exist for dental technicians?

    Dental Technicians can complete further education to advance their career within the dental workforce. Education and training institutions are facilitating expanded and post-graduate qualifications.
    • Bachelor degree program (Dental Technology)
    • Upgrade your diploma to a bachelor degree – bridging course
    • Recognition of prior learning taken into account
    • Griffith University, Gold Coast QLD, offers a one-year full time Bachelor of Oral Health in Dental Technology Visit website
    • Advanced Diploma (Dental Prosthetics)
    • Broadens knowledge and skills to provide consultation, examination, construction and maintenance of removable tooth replacement therapy (partial and full dentures) and mouthguards directly to the public.
    • Earn the title of Dental Prosthetist (Clinical Dental Technician)
    • Randwick Institute of Technical and Further Education – TAFE NSW Sydney Institute, offers a two-year part time Advanced Diploma in Dental Prosthetics Visit Website
    • Bachelor degree program (Dental Therapy)
    • Broadens knowledge and skills to provide operative and preventive treatment to children, adolescents and teenagers.
    • Recognition of prior learning taken into account
    • New South Wales offers a bachelor degree program where you graduate with a dual qualification of dental therapy and dental hygiene:
    • The University of Sydney; Cumberland, Sydney Dental Hospital and Westmead campuses - Bachelor of Oral Health. Visit Website
    • Broadens knowledge and skills to provide preventive and therapeutic treatment to people of all ages.
    • Recognition of prior learning taken into account
    • New South Wales offers two bachelor degree programs:
    • The University of Newcastle, Ourimbah Campus 2 to 3 years full time study to graduate with a Bachelor of Oral Health degree. Visit Website
    • The University of Sydney; Cumberland, Sydney Dental Hospital and Westmead Campuses Visit Website
    • 2 to 3 years full time study to receive a dual qualification of dental therapy and dental hygiene with a Bachelor of Oral Health degree.
    • Master of Dental Technology in Prosthetics
    • 1 year full time or 2 years part time study
    • Expand knowledge in biomedical and oral health sciences and development of advanced clinical skills to work directly with the public
    • Gain the title of Dental Prosthetist (Clinical Dental Technician)
    • Course available to registered dental technicians
    • Griffith University, Gold Coast QLD Visit website
    BDS Degree (dentist)

More Info

  • A Rewarding Career

    Dental technicians are artistic individuals who have a thorough understanding of dental materials science and use their skills to fabricate the form, colour and function of individual teeth or aesthetic functional prostheses for a patient. Although there have been a number of technological advances in this field, it is still a craft oriented profession as all such appliances are made largely by hand to a practitioner’s prescription.

    A dental technology career offers personal satisfaction in providing the technical side of dentistry and providing people with better dental health through a multi-disciplinary dental team environment.
     

  • Information websites

    • Oral Health Professionals Association Visit Website
    • Randwick Institute of Technical and Further Education – TAFE NSW Sydney Institute Visit Website
    • The Australian Dental Association, Inc. (National) Visit Website
    • The Job Guide occupation information Visit Website
    • Training.gov.au Visit website
    • Health Training Package; (see HLT31812  Certificate III in Dental Assisting and HLT43012 Certificate IV in Dental Assisting)   Visit Website
    • Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health Visit Website
  • Where can I get more dental technology job information in NSW?

    • Your school careers advisor
    • Head Teachers – Dental Studies, Sydney Institute (02 9469 8620 or 9469 8680)
    • Your local dental laboratory or dental practice
    • The Australian Dental Association, Inc. (National) Policy Statement on Allied Dental Professionals in Australia