The role of dental technicians is essential in the manufacturing of most dental prosthetics. If you require a single tooth restoration, a smile makeover, or full mouth reconstruction, your dentist will work collaboratively with one or more dental lab technicians to complete the treatment. Dental technicians engage in such work as constructing dental crowns, bridges, veneers, dentures, implants, splints, and other orthodontic appliances.
The work of dental technicians may be done in large laboratories, smaller private labs, or even in the dentist’s office. In usual cases, you will not directly communicate with the technician, but your dentist with work closely with him or her. Imaging software, dental photography, and dental study models may help to enhance communication between the dentist and lab technician.
Some dental technicians may obtain their degrees through college or two-year associates programs. Advanced training is available for top-level technicians through accredited programs such as the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). Artistic skill and technical precision both contribute to the quality work of a technician.
Four types of technicians exist, although one technician may very often perform all of the tasks. These include ceramists, who work mainly with porcelain, crown and bridge metal technicians, denture technicians, and ortho technicians who specialize in removable appliances.
The equipment that a dental technician uses includes articulators and high-powered microscopes that ensure the precision and fit of a dental restoration. If the dental restoration is poorly fit, it may be uncomfortable and have the potential to accommodate bacteria that may lead to tooth decay. A skilled dental technician will be familiar and comfortable with using various restoration materials. To ensure the best outcome, the materials used by the dentist and technician should be of the highest quality.
The kind of dental restoration required determines the role of the dental technician in the process of its manufacturing.
Before the manufacturing of a veneer, your dentist may recommend that you wear a temporary veneer, or a “temporary,” that provides a preview of the expected results. The temporary made by the technician is attached with composite resin material that can be removed easily to fix the final veneer onto the teeth.
The temporary may be adjusted so that an ideal fit is obtained and fabrication of the final veneer can begin. Two methods may be used for fabricating dental veneers. With respect to layered veneers, the technician will apply a mixture of porcelain, liquid, and powder to a model of the tooth in layers. This layering allows the technician to determine the level of color and translucency required.
After the porcelain powder is fired in a kiln, the veneers are then skillfully hand-molded to their desired shape. An alternative method, pressed veneers, involves the use of wax to mold a dental model, which is then coated with a high heat “investment material.” The wax is melted to produce the mold that will function as the foundation for the veneers, after which the mold is put into a special ceramic press. A molten ceramic substance is poured onto the mold, cooled, and hardened to produce the final pressed veneer.
Dental Implants, Crowns, Bridges, and Dentures
In the process of a dental implant procedure, the dental technician constructs the crown, denture, or bridge that is later fixed to the implant.
In the constructing of a crown, bridge, or removable partial denture, the technician uses a small brush or spatula to apply layers of porcelain or acrylic paste over a metal framework. Excess residue is then removed and the restoration shaped according to specification. The restoration is then solidified in a furnace and polished with various types of hand tools.
Dental Materials and Allergies
To assess whether you may be sensitive or allergic to specific dental materials, a Dental Materials Reactivity Test is available. The test works by separating antibodies from your drawn blood and noting the formation of antibody complexes that may correspond to specific materials. The test identifies your sensitivity to materials including metals, cements, composites, and other materials used in dental restorations.