The Untold Story of Dental Technicians

It’s time we gave dental technicians the spotlight they deserve!

The Untold Story of Dental Technicians
By Mario Dasca · 19th Dec, 2023

Welcome! Reading time: 1700 words… 8 min.


Ever wondered who's behind that perfect, life-like crown your dentist just placed in your mouth?

It's the unsung heroes of the dental world - the dental technicians. They're the ones making sure your smile is as natural and flawless as possible, yet their work often goes unnoticed.

Things to look out for in this email:

  • The journey of being a dental technician

  • The evolving world of dental technology

  • Message to the dentist and the crucial role dental technicians play in patient satisfaction

  • The Unspoken Crisis in Dental Technician Salaries

1. Becoming a Dental Lab Technician:

A Path to Precision and Artistry

Dental technicians are an integral part of the dental team, yet they often remain behind the scenes. Their craft requires years of training and dedication.

As one seasoned technician puts it, "I tried to honour my profession every day by doing my best at making restorations to the best of my ability."

Becoming a dental lab technician is a unique and rewarding journey that combines technical skills, artistic flair, and a commitment to precision..

Educational Foundation:

The first step on the path to becoming a dental lab technician often involves obtaining a relevant educational background. Many individuals pursue formal education in dental laboratory technology through accredited programs offered by community colleges or technical institutes.
These programs typically cover subjects such as dental anatomy, materials science, and hands-on laboratory techniques.

Hands-On Training:

While formal education provides a solid foundation, hands-on training is essential for honing the practical skills required in a dental lab.
Aspiring technicians often engage in internships or apprenticeships under experienced professionals, gaining real-world experience in crafting dental appliances like crowns, bridges, and dentures.

Specialisation and Certification:

Dental lab technicians can choose to specialise in specific areas, such as fixed prosthetics, removable prosthetics, or orthodontic appliances. Specialisation often involves additional training and certification to become an expert in a particular niche within the field.

Embracing Technology:

Advancements in dental technology play a significant role in the profession. Technicians need to stay abreast of the latest developments in digital dentistry, computer-aided design (CAD), and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) systems.
Embracing technology enhances efficiency and precision in creating dental prosthetics.

Attention to Detail:

Precision and attention to detail are paramount in dental laboratory work. Technicians must meticulously follow dental prescriptions and take into account factors such as bite alignment, colour matching, and patient comfort.
This attention to detail ensures the final product seamlessly integrates with the patient's natural dentition.

Professional Development and Networking:

Continuous learning is crucial in the ever-evolving field of dental technology. Dental lab technicians often participate in workshops, conferences, and online courses to stay updated on industry trends and advancements.
Networking with other professionals in the field provides valuable insights and opportunities for collaboration.

Becoming a dental lab technician is a journey that blends science, artistry, and a commitment to improving the lives of dental patients.
Through education, hands-on experience, specialisation, and a dedication to staying current with technological advancements, these professionals contribute significantly to the field of dentistry.

2. Navigating the Technological Revolution

With advancements in technology, the work of dental technicians has moved beyond the traditional lab.

Now, they can design a restoration on the computer and have it milled by a machine. But even with all the sophistication, maintaining the quality and fit of restorations remains a top priority.

Digital workflows can drastically improve any practice's efficiency. No more waiting for analogue impressions. With digital scans, treatments can be designed and delivered faster.

Did you know that digital dentistry could cut your clear aligner appointments in half?
Yes, you read that right!

From more efficient workflows to eliminating cross-contamination, digital dentistry presents a plethora of benefits.

3. Things Your Dental Technician Wish You Knew

Our dear dentists,

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes in your dental lab? Or what your dental technician wishes you knew?
I hope that this part will give you an exclusive insight into the world of dental technicians and how you can improve your relationship with them for better results.

Communication is the key to success in any field, and dentistry is no exception. As Raj Ratan, a renowned figure in dental circles, once said, "An average dentist with a good technician can go very far." This statement underscores the importance of clear and effective communication with your technician.

Here are the top 5 things your dental technician wishes you knew:

1. Value of Communication: Some dentists excel at communication, while others are quite poor. A simple lab slip with 'Please make a crown' written on it is not enough. Technicians need more information to deliver the best results.

2. Understanding the Work Process: Unlike dentists, technicians don’t have a booking sheet with scheduled appointments. Their work is much more unpredictable, which can make planning difficult.

3. Appreciation for Their Work: Technicians work hard behind the scenes, and their work is crucial for the success of any dental procedure. They deserve recognition and appreciation.

4. Details Matter: Additional features of the tooth, like heavy contact, light contact, or contact point, can make a significant difference in the outcome. Do not leave these out of the docket.

5. The Importance of Retrying: If a dentist tries a crown and then has to re-etch, the technician should not be held accountable for the bond. This should be the responsibility of the dentist.

What These Insights Change For You

Understanding these points can revolutionise your relationship with your technician, leading to better results, smoother procedures, and happier patients.
All I can hope is that you’ll start implementing these tips today and see the difference it makes.

Remember, a good dentist-technician relationship is like a well-oiled machine. Keep the communication lines open, appreciate their hard work, and watch your practice thrive.

4. Empowering Your Journey as a Dental Technician

Have you ever felt daunted or trapped in your role as a dental technician? You're not alone in this feeling, and the silver lining is, this is not a permanent state. 

Strategies for Prospering as a Dental Technician

1. Alter Your Mindset: Embrace the concept of constant evolution and knowledge acquisition. Each case is distinctive and presents a fresh learning opportunity.

2. Experiment: Utilise your free time in the lab to try out new techniques or materials. Be proactive in your learning journey.

3. Communicate: Don't hesitate to express your ideas or worries. You are an integral part of the dental team and your contribution is significant.

The Impact of This Change On You

Adopting this mindset and these strategies can transform you from feeling stagnant to thriving in your role. You'll rediscover the pleasure in your work, constantly enhance your skills, and gain confidence in your ability to tackle any case that comes your way.

Also, remain receptive to learning and evolving.

5. The Unspoken Crisis in Dental Technician Salaries

Did you know that the average salary for dental technicians in the UK is less than £29k?
With this salary range and cost of living increases, it’s no wonder our industry is struggling to attract new talent. But there's hope on the horizon, and it's time we talk about it.

The Silent Salary Crisis 

For years, dental technicians have been underpaid, leading to a decline in new entrants to the industry. But it’s not all doom and gloom.
Attitudes are changing, and salaries are slowly but surely increasing. 

A New Dawn for Dental Technology

Research shows that dental technology in the UK is looking to grow just under 10% per annum for the next 10 years

Despite the challenges, there are positive signs. Opportunities are ripe for anyone wanting to venture into dental technology. The key is to charge our worth and value the skilled professionals in our industry.

Tips for Encouraging New Talent 

  • Provide competitive salaries- despite the challenges, some dental labs are managing to retain their graduates by offering competitive salaries.

  • Offer career development opportunities- Many are now investing in their staff, offering continuous professional development opportunities.

  • Create a positive working environment

By standing strong and charging our worth, we can encourage young skilled people to feel valued and ensure a thriving future for the dental technology industry.

It's not just about investing in technology. Our investment in people is now more important than ever.

As you embark on or continue your journey as a dental lab technician, remember that you are an integral part of transforming lives, one smile at a time. Your dedication to precision and artistry contributes not just to dental aesthetics but to the overall well-being of individuals seeking oral health solutions.

In your day-to-day work, embrace the challenges as opportunities to refine your skills and expand your knowledge. Stay curious, stay hungry for learning, and be open to the ever-evolving landscape of dental technology. The tools at your disposal are advancing, and your willingness to adapt ensures that you remain at the forefront of innovation.

Remember the impact of your work on the lives of the individuals who receive your creations. Each dental appliance you craft has the potential to instil confidence, alleviate discomfort, and restore normalcy. It's a powerful and rewarding responsibility.

Build a network within the dental community. Connect with fellow technicians, dentists, and professionals in related fields. The exchange of ideas and experiences not only enriches your understanding but also opens doors to collaboration and collective growth.

Finally, never underestimate the significance of your role. You are not just a technician; you are a creator, a problem solver, and a vital part of the healthcare ecosystem. Your commitment to excellence is what sets you apart.

Continue to be inspired by the smiles you help create and the lives you touch. Your journey as a dental lab technician is a journey of empowerment, not just for you but for every individual who benefits from your expertise.

Keep shining, keep growing, and keep making a difference.

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