Every profession across the world has a role to play in fulfilling the desires and aspirations of human beings. From time immemorial, professional success does not come on a platter of gold but through series of extensive research, development and in-depth training on the part of professionals and allied persons in the related field of practice, the same applies to dental technology as well. Dental technology is one of the various health professions in dentistry that is playing a significant role in the healthcare delivery system.
What is dental technology?
Dental technology is the technical side of dentistry where a dental technician, on the prescription of a dentist, manufactures dental prosthetics or orthodontic appliances. This could consist of, artificial teeth such as a complete denture, partial denture, crowns and bridges and implants. Removable orthodontic appliances such as springs and retainers and mouth guards and maxillofacial appliances such as artificial facial prostheses.
Who are dental technicians?
Dental technicians do not have direct contact with patients but work in a dental laboratory where various prosthetic appliances are custom made. Their work helps improve patients’ appearance and also helps improve their speech and ability to chew. Without the services offered by a dental technologist, dentists would not be able to offer the full range of services to their patients.
Dental technicians can be thought of as artists who, with a thorough understanding of dental materials and science, use their artistic skills to manufacture the form, colour and function of individual teeth or maxillofacial prostheses for a patient. The fact that the product can affect the health and appearance of a person, a high degree of technical skill and high level of manual dexterity are essential skills in the profession.
The role of dental technicians or dental technologists cannot be adequately treated without knowing the status. In Australia, dental technicians are listed among the recognised dental professionals and the practice is recognised through the Dental Board of Australia. The board ensures that all professionals are registered and operate within a specified code of conduct.
Professional roles of dental technician
Dental technicians stand a chance of advancing into any of the five major specialist areas of the profession.
Prosthodontics technology – it is an art and science of designing and fitting artificial substitutes to replace the lost or missing tissues. Appliances constructed in this field include removable partial or full dentures designed and constructed using either metallic or non-metallic material for patients.
Orthodontics technology – this branch deals with the study of growth, development and infinite variations of the face, jaws and teeth and particularly with the treatment of dentofacial abnormalities.
Conservation technology – this branch deals with restoration such as inlays, crowns, bridges and preservation of the dental structures. Crowns and bridges are small prostheses that replace lost tooth structure.
Maxillo-facial technology – it is a branch of dental technology complementary to maxillo-facial surgery, which is particularly concerned with the prosthetic restoration and rehabilitation of the facial structures and jaws.
Instrument technology – it is a branch of dental technology that deals with the study of physical, chemical and biological properties of materials as well as the study of manufacturing techniques, control and maintenance of numerous instruments and equipment.
A dental technician can choose to work as a generalist producing a wide variety of technical items or they can choose to specialise in any one of the above areas. However, in order to work as a dental technician, you must be registered with General Dental Council and for this students have to successfully complete dental technology courses and undergo an in-depth dental technician training.
Entry requirements for dental technicians
To ensure an appropriate learning opportunity, students need to demonstrate a capacity to undertake diploma course.
Dental Technology is profession acclaimed worldwide and there is a high demand for skilled dental technicians. This demand for dental technicians is growing for those working in specific areas such as crown and bridge and associated work in response to the increasing occurrence of cosmetic dentistry. A growing population in Australia and the demanding developments in technology create strong dental technicians employment opportunities. Upon completion of the dental technology course, students are fully qualified dental technicians and can work in dental laboratories or under the supervision of a dentist.
Additional qualifications allow a technician to become an instructor technician. Or there is the option of becoming a senior technician with responsibility for quality control or management within a larger laboratory. Another possibility is within sales for a laboratory or trade company.
Mathew is a highly-qualified dental technician imparting knowledge to students and keeps himself updated with current trends in dental technology. He imparts knowledge to students not only in the classroom but also through his articles on dental technology and the courses to undertake. He is currently working with Australian Centre of Further Education (ACFE), which excels in training international and domestic students to become qualified health practitioners in Australia.