4 Things No One Tells You About Being a DLT
Being a dental laboratory technician means you’re an artisan, a technician, and a healthcare provider. DLTs make the bridges, crowns, and other dental prosthetics that allow people who’ve lost teeth to smile, chew, and speak with confidence. Here are four things about being a DLT you might not know when entering the field.
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You’re in demand
Being a dental laboratory technician means you’re working in a focused and specialized area of healthcare, but that doesn’t mean you don’t affect a large group of people. The need for dental prosthetics is immense; an estimated 35 million Americans are missing teeth in one or both jaws. Current Bureau of Labor Statistics projections estimate that the demand for DLTs is growing, mostly because of the aging baby boomer population. Chances are in any given room of people, you can find at least one person who benefits from some kind of dental prosthetic. DLTs may spend a lot of time in the lab, but their work goes everywhere.
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You’ll start to notice people’s teeth
Being a DLT means you’ll be an expert in teeth, and that means you’ll pay far more attention to teeth than most other people. You might feel your eyes gravitating to someone’s smile when you meet them, or maybe trying to notice whether someone has a crown. You’ll see details in teeth most other people miss, and you’ll find personality and detail in teeth you never used to notice.
Color is a good example. A big part of being a DLT is matching prosthetics to the natural teeth they’ll join, and you’ll spend a fair amount of time coloring and staining teeth so they look natural. DLTs don’t see teeth as just white; they see a whole range of different tooth colors. Being a DLT means you’ll quite literally look at people differently. After becoming an expert on teeth, you’ll never look at a smile the same way again.
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Some people still opt for gold prosthetics
Dental prosthetics go back hundreds and even thousands of years. During that time, we’ve made some significant strides in material sciences and engineering. These days, most dental prosthetics are made from ceramic. However, occasionally a patient will want a metallic prosthetic. Gold and other metals are no longer commonplace, but sometimes people will opt for them. These metallic prosthetics are markedly different from the prosthetics that blend in with natural teeth, which is most of what DLTs do. But every so often, an eccentric patient will want something just a little outside the norm.
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You’ll use cutting-edge technology
Being a DLT means you’ll use your hands, but firing ceramic and polishing crowns isn’t the only thing you’ll be doing on the job. You’ll also use digital technology to make dental prosthetics. Using CAD/CAM technology when crafting dental prosthetics is now the norm for many labs, so you’ll have to be proficient with software as well as tools for firing, sculpting, and polishing. DLTs take prosthetics from digital ideas to solid objects, so they have good reason to draw upon so many tools and resources. When you craft teeth, you’re crafting a part of someone’s smile. Your work will be an important part of them for a very long time, and you’ll hone several design skills and use several tools to do that.