Understanding the 6 Specialties of Dental Lab Technicians
Crowns and bridges are a huge part of dental lab technology, but they’re not the only part. Dentistry, like everything in medicine, is an expansive field, and once you begin your career as a Certified Dental Tech, you have a range of options to continue the practice throughout your life. At AmeriTech, we train you in the first specialty to get you started, but once you’re going you can pursue any of these six dental technology specialties, recognized by the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology.
1. Crowns and Bridges
Crown and bridge dental technology is the most common and prevalent for a reason: All dentists are skilled in this restoration, and it’s needed by every demographic. Crowns are necessary and inarguably beneficial to address severe cavities, binding around the tooth to prevent further decay. Bridges, similarly, are prosthetics to replace missing teeth, “bridging” the gap between adjacent teeth. These are procedures that anyone, at any point, could feasibly need—and many do, which makes the demand for this DLT specialty so high. At AmeriTech, we prepare our students for certification and employment in crown and bridge dental labs. It’s a critical place to begin your career as a dental lab tech, and mastering it can ready you to pursue one or more of the other five specialties.
2. Complete Dentures
When most people think of dentures, George Washington or retirement homes come to mind. The reality is, many people, even young people, can require dentures for a variety of reasons. Teeth decay, dental disease, severe injury, or developmental defects affect more than just the elderly, and dentures are often used as treatment. Dental techs who specialize in complete dentures have to be skilled in fabricating not just one or three teeth, but all of the teeth in maxillary (upper) or mandibular (lower) arches. The prosthetic has to be comfortable, functional, and—well, maybe not “beautiful,” but at least aesthetically proper for every patient and her mouth. Because it’s so extensive, and less common, fewer dental lab techs specialize in complete dentures, but many that do find a lot of professional success for that very reason.
3. Partial Dentures
Partial dentures are a similar dental technology specialty, just with fewer teeth involved. Like most complete dentures, partial dentures are removable, but they replace only a few teeth—sometimes only one. Because of that, partial dentures can be used in lieu of bridges, as a more cost-effective option, or as a middle ground between a bridge and complete denture, replacing a line of teeth but not a full arch.
We train our DLT students to use a variety of fabrication materials, but the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology recognizes ceramics as a unique specialty. CDTs who work with dental ceramics fabricate teeth with porcelain, starting from complete scratch with porcelain powder to create each tooth. The ceramic fabrication is either fused to metal or made of porcelain all the way through. Ceramics aren’t recommended for all dental prosthetics, but aesthetically they can create very lifelike veneers, and they maintain a significant hardness, which makes them appealing to many patients.
As the name might suggest, dental technicians who specialize in orthodontics tend to work exclusively with orthodontists—not dentists. Rather than create teeth, orthodontic technicians create appliances (often braces) that move and align a patient’s teeth. These appliances are custom-fitted and prescribed by the orthodontist, which means the required skill and precision remain extensive. The materials and actual artistry, though, vary radically from DLTs who fabricate crowns and dentures, making this specialty perhaps the most unique
Dental technicians who work with implants also benefit from training and work in crowns and bridges. A huge portion of their job, like most DLTs, is fabricating teeth to replace missing or damaged teeth. They’re unique, though, for creating teeth that don’t bind to neighboring teeth. Rather, as you’ve probably gathered, their fabrications are inserted surgically with an implant anchor. It’s like a prosthetic root, interfacing with the bone of the jaw or skull. This requires attention not just to the shape of the tooth and its neighbors, but also a patient’s bone structure.
If you’re interested in becoming a certified dental lab technician, request more information here. We’d love to hear from you!