Dental laboratory technicians make and repair dentures, crowns, and bridges.
Dental laboratory technicians create devices that correct, replace, or restore patients' teeth.
They may specialize in one of six areas:
- Orthodontic appliances
- Crowns and bridges
- Complete dentures
- Partial dentures
Technicians read dentist's prescriptions and create models of patients' mouths made from impressions taken by a dentist. They do this by pouring plaster into the impressions. Once the plaster has dried, technicians remove the plaster models from the impressions. They set the models on a device that imitates a person's bite. Technicians look at the size and shape of the teeth and gum line.
To make a crown, technicians create a wax model of the tooth. Once the wax tooth is prepared, technicians create a mold of it and pour metal into the mold. This metal impression is the crown.
When creating a false tooth, technicians go through additional steps after creating the metal impression of a tooth. They apply layers of porcelain onto the metal. The false tooth is then baked to harden the porcelain. Technicians grind the tooth and add additional porcelain to seal it.
Technicians also create bridges, which attach one or more false teeth to patients' real teeth. They form the bands that attach the teeth. They use soldering irons and hand tools to shape and join wire and metal frames or bands.
Dental laboratory technicians also repair damaged devices. They fill chipped or low spots with acrylic resin. They rebuild or replace linings, wire sections, and missing teeth in dentures.
Dental laboratory technicians use many materials in their work including plaster, porcelain, and acrylics. They also use tools such as micrometers, grinders, polishing machines, and hand tools to sculpt teeth and apply metal or porcelain. They adhere porcelain to metal by baking the porcelain teeth in a special furnace or kiln.
Job titles may reflect the specialty area. For example, technicians who make porcelain and acrylic restorations are called dental ceramicists. Technicians may do all stages of the work or they may specialize in one step of the process.