In the field of Dentistry, besides dentists and dental surgeons, there is a great need for skilled personals who helps dentists in dental treatment. These essential members of the dental team known as Dental Technicians, carry out all aspects of technical work in the dental field i.e Dental Technology. Dental Technology is considered as a global profession which combines the art and science of Dental world. Dental Technicians play a significant role in the delivery of dental health care products. It is these highly skilled people who design, construct, repair and adjust variety of dental appliances such as crowns, bridges, partial dentures, pre and post oral and maxillofacial surgical devices, orthodontic appliances in a laboratory and mouth guard. They also make anti-snoring devices and speech therapy appliances. Dental technicians are also known by the names Dental technologists and dental lab technicians. Dental technology careers are for those who love working with tools and equipments and have an artistic ability to construct forms and designs. Dental technicians do not have direct contact with the patients. They work under the written prescription or direct communication with the dentists. The duties of Dental Technicians are comprehensive and varied, since each dental patient's requirements are different. Their major duties and tasks include : • Designing, fabricating, or repairing dental devices • Preparing plaster models and moulds from dental impressions • Casting gold or metal alloys for bridges and denture bases • Restoring natural teeth (crowns, inlays / onlays, veneers) • Replacing teeth (bridges, partial and full dentures, dental implant prosthesis) • Replacing oral soft and hard structures • Moving, retaining and protecting teeth and • Aligning the jaw position Eligibility To practice as a Dental Technologist, one must need a certificate/ degree/ or diploma in dental technology. The minimum education qualification required for a course in Dental Technology is 10th / a high school diploma or equivalent. The techniques in the field are learned through on-the-job training and by moving up through experience. Expertise Needed A Dental Technologist requires the skill and touch of an artist and must be very creative. The personal attribute needed for Dental Technicians are good eye-hand coordination and color perception, dexterity in using small instruments, the patience to attend to minute detail and an interest in learning the underlying material science. They are required to have a high degree of concentration and technical ability. They need good organisational and communication skills. The work of a Dental technician involve working with diverse range of techniques from plaster casting, electro-spot welding, metal casting, metal polishing, to wax modelling, ceramics, wire bending, electroplating and sandblasting. The technicians must have training in such skills and a keen understanding the mechanics of both the mouth and the dental devices. They must also understand physical forces, characteristics, and handling properties of wires and materials. They need to very careful while handling specialised equipment and various chemicals. Nature of Work and Job Prospects The work of a Dental Technician is extremely delicate and time-consuming. At the initial stage of their career, most of the dental technicians start of with simple tasks such as pouring plaster into an impression; and progress to more complex procedures, such as making porcelain crowns and bridges. Depending upon one's aptitude, it will take around 3- 4 years for an individual to be a fully trained technician. A Dentist, after examining a patient, make a prescription of technical work, such as a crown, bridge, denture, implant or orthodontic appliance. These prescriptions providing the relevant information of the patient, is sent to the Dental technician, together with an impression (mould) of the patient's mouth. After receiving the prescription, Dental technologist creates a model of the patient's mouth by pouring plaster into the impression and allowing it to set. Next, they place the model on an apparatus that mimics the bite and movement of the patient's jaw. The model serves as the basis of the prosthetic device. Technicians examine the model, noting the size and shape of the adjacent teeth, as well as gaps within the gumline. Based upon these observations and the dentist's specifications, technicians build and shape a wax tooth or teeth model, using small hand instruments called wax spatulas and wax carvers. They use this wax model to cast the metal framework for the Prosthetic device. After the wax tooth has been formed, dental technicians pour the cast and form the metal and, using small hand-held tools, prepare the surface to allow the metal and porcelain to bond. They then apply porcelain in layers, to arrive at the precise shape and color of a tooth. Technicians place the tooth in a porcelain furnace to bake the porcelain onto the metal framework, and then adjust the shape and color, with subsequent grinding and addition of porcelain to achieve a sealed finish. The final product is nearly an exact replica of the lost tooth or teeth. Dental laboratory technicians can work in a variety of settings such as laboratories, dental clinics, dental school/ hospital, dental manufacturing units etc. Experienced technicians can find lucrative positions in commercial laboratories based on their technical skills and experience. Those interested in the teaching field, can become tutors in dental institutions. Dental technicians may also apply their knowledge to research, sales and/or marketing of prosthetic materials, instruments and equipment. Dental technicians can work in specialties that may include : • Prosthodontics Prosthodontic dental technicians design and construct complete and partial dentures. Dentures may be made from polymeric materials, which can be made to give a natural appearance of the gum tissue and are mainly used for complete dentures and cast alloys, which are very light weight and are more suited to patients who require partial dentures. • Conservation Conservation dental technicians deals with the construction of crowns and bridges. To make these the dental technician will use cast metals and ceramic materials, such as porcelain to make the framework and build up and shape individual or multiple crowns. • Orthodontics An orthodontic dental technician produces appliances, commonly known as 'braces' that are used to make adjustments to the positioning of teeth in the mouth. The technician will construct the appliance using wires that when tightened will provide sufficient force to slowly move the teeth to the required position to improve appearance and jaw function. • Maxillo Facial Maxillo Facial dental technology is the specialised area of dental technology. Maxillo Facial dental technologists support surgeons involved in oral and ophthalmic surgery and in cancer and burns units in hospitals. It is theses technicians who design and construct artificial eyes, ears, noses and other artificial body parts for those patients who have been involved in accidents or suffered from diseases. Pay Scale in Dental Technology Fresher in Dental Technology can earn anything between 5,000 - 7,000 per month. Reputed firms will pay a little more for these professionals based on their qualification and experience. Professional technicians with years of experience can earn anywhere between Rs 25,000 - Rs 30,000 per month.