Dental technician

Dental technicians are essential members of the dental team. They support the clinical work of registered dentists by manufacturing, repairing or advising on custom made dental appliances. These include:

  • dentures
  • crowns
  • bridges
  • implants
  • dental braces

Dental technicians design and construct these appliances to assist patients who are experiencing difficulties. A patient may require a dental device to replace missing teeth or improve their speech.

Dental appliances can be manufactured using a range of materials such as gold, stainless steel, titanium, porcelain or plastic.

Starting your career

Choosing subjects at school

To become a dental technician, you need a good standard of education. Useful subjects include:

  • Chemistry
  • English
  • Human Biology
  • Maths
  • Physics

A Foundation Apprenticeship in Social Services and Healthcare, studied in S5 or S6, could give you valuable work experience.

Work placement

If you’re at school or thinking of changing career, doing a work placement could help you when applying to college, university or for a job in healthcare. You’ll learn new skills, improve your knowledge and discover what it’s like to work in the health service. Find out how to apply for work experience with the NHS.

College and university

Most universities accept a wide range of qualifications, giving you the option of applying directly from school or going to college first.

At college, you could do an HNC or HND in Dental Technology.

Widening participation supports adult learners who want to go to university. If you’re an adult with few or no qualifications, you can get into higher education through the Scottish Widening Access Programme (SWAP). Many universities also provide access programmes to help you get the degree entry qualifications you need.

To practice as a dental technician in NHSScotland, you need to complete an approved pre-registration programme. This can take three years part-time while employed in a dental lab.

In Scotland, you can study dental technology at the University of Aberdeen.

Students must also be employed as a trainee dental technician in a Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) registered laboratory.

For more information on related further and higher education courses, search My World of Work. You should check specific entry requirements before applying.

The role

As a dental technician, you would specialise in one of four different areas:

  • removable prosthodontics – this area of dental technology requires you to design and construct complete or partial dentures
  • Fixed prosthodontics – under the prescription of a dentist, you would construct custom made dental appliances. This is only if the patient’s teeth cannot be reasonably restored
  • Orthodontics – you would produce removable dental appliances, known as braces
  • Maxillofacial – you would help in the reconstruction of faces by disease or an accident

It would be your role to improve teeth and for replacing last teeth. You’ll work to a dentists’ or doctors’ prescription to construct appliances that meet each patient’s needs.

Much of your work will be done by hand to fine-tune each piece to exact specifications, but you may also use specialised equipment within the laboratory.

What you’ll do

Your main tasks include:

  • undertaking all aspects of prosthetic work including making bites and special trays and mouth guards
  • constructing partial or full dentures
  • creating accurate models from Clinician impressions
  • constructing models of the mouth and teeth from impressions of the patient’s mouth
  • correcting dental irregularities by making fixed or removable appliances

Top skills

You’ll need these skills:

  • accuracy checking skills
  • communicating with people
  • decision-making
  • planning
  • problem-solving
  • working in a team

Who you’ll work with

You could work with:

  • dentists
  • dental nurses
  • orthodontic therapists
  • dental therapists
  • doctors

Working environment

You could work in:

  • dental practices
  • dental laboratory
  • hospitals

Useful information

To work as a dental technician in NHSScotland, you’ll need to:

Learning and development

Once qualified, you must register with the General Dental Council (GDC).

As a dentist, you would be expected to undertake continuing professional development (CPD). This is in order to keep your knowledge and skills up to date. Every 5 years, you must complete 150 hours of CPD activities that include:

  • attending seminars, events and courses
  • taking in-house training courses
  • writing articles for journals
  • taking private studies, such as online courses or postgraduate study

You must also do this to maintain your registration with the GDC.

Career Progression

Progression is possible and with experience, there are opportunities to become a senior or chief dental technician. You could be responsible for quality control or management within a large laboratory.

With the qualifications and experience, you could progress into reconstructive science by getting a place on the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP). During this programme, you’ll be employed in a fixed-term training position where you will study towards a Masters in maxillofacial technology.

Courses for specialist qualifications and networking opportunities are available here:

With the right experience, you might move into teaching. You could teach new trainees or lecture at university as an instructor dental technician. You might need additional postgraduate qualifications.