How to Become a Dental Technician

Dental Technician

Dental technicians create dental appliances for patients, based on a dentist’s prescriptions. Appliances that they make include braces, retainers, and dentures. Some dental technicians may also work directly with patients to install dental appliances.

A dental technician creates and amends dental appliances, including dentures, crowns, and braces. They will generally hand make these appliances to fit the individual patient, with information from the prescription and dental moulds. They use a wide range of materials in their work, including plastic, porcelain, metal, and wax. 

There are several different types of dental technician. 

  • Prosthodontic technicians specialise in making dentures.
  • Conservation technicians create crowns and bridges for teeth.
  • Orthodontic technicians specialise in orthodontic dentistry, so they create braces and retainers. 
  • Maxillofacial technicians work in hospitals and use dental technology to help reconstruct a patient’s face after a severe face injury or surgery.
  • Clinical dental technicians also work with patients. They create and install removable dental appliances, such as dentures, directly onto the patient.

Dental technicians – especially maxillofacial and clinical – may specialise in a particular area. However, laboratory-based technicians may have a more general role.

As well as creating appliances, dental technicians are expected to keep updated with laboratory reports and in some cases, check on their patient’s dental welfare. 

Most dental technologists will have either taken a degree or a diploma in dental technology. They may also be required to take an approved dental technician course – this will vary depending on their country of residence. There is the option to join the vocation as a trainee dental technician and take a part-time course while working.

Dental technicians are expected to do continual professional development (CPD). They can do this by training organised by their job, independent research, or writing journals. 

Work experience is also essential for prospective dental technicians. Work shadowing at a dental practice or working on reception might be an option. Laboratories are also often open to work experience placements. 

Dental technicians will need to have excellent dexterity and attention to detail. They typically hand-make appliances, so will need to demonstrate acute precision. Some of their appliances are created with computer-aided-design, so they should feel proficient with this technology.

They will also need to have excellent eyesight – they may need to do eye tests to prove this. Dental technicians cannot be colour blind, as part of their job involves shading, which is matching items of very similar colour together.

Dental technicians should have an artistic flair and be aware of the importance of aesthetics when creating appliances. They should be able to communicate with dentists and doctors, as well as work independently. 

Most dental technicians will work office hours, although overtime may be required. Candidates can progress to becoming a clinical dental technician or working in management. They could also move into quality control, teaching, or sales. Some dental technicians even set up their own dental laboratory. 

What degree is most commonly held by a Dental Technician?

  • Associates Degree in Dental Laboratory Technology
  • Bachelor Degree Machine Tool Technology/Machinist
  • General Certificate of Nutrition Sciences
  • Bachelors of Dentistry
  • Associates Degree in Restorative Dentistry

Career Transportability across Countries

Transportability: Medium
Skilled dental technicians may have the opportunity to work abroad. If they gain specific skills and a few years of experience, their skills may be in demand in other countries, as in some countries the need for professionals in dentistry is particularly high. Temporary work abroad or volunteering is also an option for dental technicians.

What is the Salary of a Dental Technician?

Experience Average salary | year
Dental Technician 1-3 yrs $31,000 £21,800 $33,235
Dental Technician 3-5 yrs $37,000 £26,000 $38,000
Dental Technician 5-10 yrs $43,000 £31,000 $42,000

What skills are needed to become a Dental Technician?

  • Customer Service
  • Microsoft Office
  • Management
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Time Management
  • Event Planning
  • Microsoft Word
  • Leadership
  • Event Management
  • Project Management
  • Social Media
  • Office Administration
  • Marketing
  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • PowerPoint
  • Sales
  • Diary Management
  • Training
  • Administrative Assistance
  • Research
  • Administration
  • Executive Support
  • Outlook
  • Microsoft Outlook

Dentist Technician Courses

There is a lot of theoretical knowledge that is necessary for becoming a dental technician. At FutureLearn, we have some great courses to help you on the career path. Discover dentistry is an excellent way to learn some initial information about the career.
  • Discover Dentistry

    Discover the fascinating world of dentistry and explore the impact dentistry has on our lives

  • Improving Your Image: Dental Photography in Practice

    Learn how to achieve consistent and excellent results in all aspects of dental photography with this free online course

  • Tackling Antibiotic Resistance: What Should Dentists Do?

    Discover the danger posed by antibiotic resistance and how dental teams can meet the challenge to protect patients

Need even more evidence about why you should learn on FutureLearn?

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