What does a dental technician do?
Dental technicians design, build, repair and adjust dental devices for people who have lost teeth or need help to correct the appearance and performance of their teeth.
Dental technicians may specialise within one of four key areas, which are:
- orthodontics – creating plastic or metal devices, such as braces, to straighten teeth
- crown and bridge work – constructing items that can be cemented into place
- prosthetics – producing plastic dentures or implants, some of which have metal inserts to help keep them straight
- maxillo-facial prosthetics – helping to reconstruct the faces of people damaged by accident or disease
This role would involve working with a wide range of materials, such as gold, porcelain and plastic to design and make specialist devices to suit patients’ needs. Dental technicians would also use the latest techniques, equipment, instruments, and computer technology to carry out their duties.
What do I need to do to become a dental technician?
You need to be registered with the General Dental Council (GDC) before you can work as a dental technician. To get onto the register, you need to complete one of the following qualifications in dental technology:
- a Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma – for this you will often need four GCSEs (A-C) in English language, maths and a science subject
- a foundation degree – you will usually need to be employed in a trainee dental technician role to get onto this course
- a BSc (Hons) degree – entry usually includes five GCSEs (A-C) plus two or three A levels
For advanced dental technology work, you are likely to need one of the degree-level qualifications.
Check with course providers for exact entry details because alternative qualifications may also be accepted.
- Four GCSEs (A-C) in English language, maths and a science subject
- Two or three A levels
- Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma
- Foundation degree
- BSc Honours degree
Where to find out more
Where could I be working?
You could work in a variety of settings, including private dental labs, the NHS or the armed forces. In a private dental lab, you would create devices and appliances for a number of dental practices covering a wide geographical area. In a hospital setting, you might help dental surgeons by designing and building artificial parts for patients with facial injuries, cancer or cleft palate.
You would usually be based in a lab, working alone or as part of a team. If you are working in a hospital setting, you will have direct contact with dental and oral surgeons, and occasionally patients.