Dental technicians (or dental technologists as they are often referred to) make the dentures, crowns, bridges and dental braces that improve patients appearance, speech and their ability to chew. Working to dentists or doctors prescriptions, technicians/technologists use a wide range of materials, including gold, porcelain and plastic, to design and construct appliances to meet each patients needs.
There are four specialist areas. Prosthodontic technicians design and make dentures. Conservation technicians specialise in crown and bridge work. Orthodontic technicians make braces to correct tooth positions. Maxillo-facial technicians (sometimes also known as maxillofacial prosthetists) work is based in hospital oral surgery, ophthalmic, cancer and burns units, helping to reconstruct the faces of patients damaged by accident or disease. For more information please click here
In order to work as a dental technician/dental technologist, you must be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC). To be able to register, you to need to have successfully completed a course that has been approved by GDC. Recognised courses lead to qualifications such as the BTEC National Diploma in Dental Technology, (for entry to which you will normally be required to have at least four GCSEs at grade C or above or the equivalent), a foundation degree (in which case you'll normally need to be employed in a trainee dental technician role) or a BSc (Hons) degree in Dental Technology (for which A' levels or equivalent qualifications are usually required).
You can take the BTEC National Diploma or foundation degree course on a full-time basis or by obtaining a post as a trainee dental technician and taking the course on a part-time basis. BSc (Hons) degrees are usually full-time at a university/dental school.
If you plan to get a trainee position, you'll need to apply to employers (such as hospitals and laboratories) directly. For full-time courses, you will need to check with each institution about the application process. Applications for full-time degree courses need to be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).
With further qualifications and experience, dental technicians can progress onto management such as senior or chief technician posts; quality control, teaching or sales.
Promotion prospects can be greater in larger laboratories and it may be necessary to move between employers to progress.
There are also opportunities to specialise as clinical dental technicians (see below) or as orthodontic therapists
In 2013, dental technicians may apply for training as healthcare scientists specialising in reconstructive sciences through the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP)
Clinical dental technicians design, create, construct and modify (including repairing) removable dental appliances for patients. They insure optimal fit, maximum comfort and general well-being of patients.
Clinical dental technicians are qualified and experienced dental technicians who have undertaken additional training in sciences, clinical skills, and interpersonal skills.
They are able to work independently of other dental team members.
Details of clinical dental technician programmes are listed on the website of the General Dental Council
More information can be obtained from:
British Association of Clinical Dental Technology (BACDT)
44-46 Wollaton Road
The Dental Technologists Association
Waterwells Business Park
Tel: 0870 243 0753
Dental Laboratories Association Ltd
44 - 46 Wollaston Road
Tel: 0115 925 4888
General Dental Council
37 Wimpole Street
Tel: 020 7887 3800
Fax: 020 7224 3294