Creating new dental appliances for patients is the primary responsibility of a denture technician. Depending on the workplace, a technician might work on just one part of the denture-making process such as adding porcelain veneer to the denture. In other circumstances, a technician may have the responsibility of building the entire set of teeth from making the molds from the patient’s teeth to the final fitting of the new dentures.
A dental technician not only builds new dentures but also repairs existing dentures. This involves working with small tools, both electric and manually operated. A denture technician must understand the processes of building the structure of the dentures from metal and then adding porcelain and other materials to give the dentures a real appearance. If they have additional training as denturists, some denture technicians work with patients fitting the dental appliances, while others work strictly in a laboratory. Depending on the experience level, the dental technician may also have supervisory responsibilities as well.
A dental technician needs good fine-motor skills in order to work on dentures. She must also have artistic talents to create a realistic looking set of teeth. Being able to concentrate and pay attention to small details is important to the job. Good interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate are also necessary prerequisites. A dental technician must also be able to meet deadlines and work well under pressure.
Denture technician training has no set career path. With a solid background in science and math as well as an understanding of shop tools, a candidate can start on-the-job training straight out of high school. Two-year courses of study are available from vocational schools and community colleges. The military is another career path to becoming a dental technician. A few four-year colleges offer dental technician majors as well.
Each state varies on their licensing requirements, if any, for dental technicians. Certification from the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology is available. To become a Certified Dental Technician, two years of post-vocational school professional experience are necessary plus the successful completion of two written exams and one practical exam.
In 2008, the median salary of a denture technician was $34,170 according to a report issued by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Dental technicians who routinely perform most or all of the tasks involved in creating dental appliances draw more salary than those who perform only a few tasks on a routine basis.