Dental Technician Kaihangarau Niho

Dental technicians create and repair devices for the treatment, replacement and protection of damaged, badly positioned or missing teeth.

Dental technicians need to be registered with the Dental Council of New Zealand, and hold an annual practising certificate.

Dental technicians work from a mould of a client's mouth made by a dentist or a clinical dental technician, and custom-make a range of appliances for the mouth, including:

  • crowns (covers for broken or damaged teeth)
  • dentures
  • removable orthodontic appliances (plates with wires to straighten teeth)
  • mouthguards
  • splints for broken or cracked jawbones
  • anti-snoring devices
  • teeth-whitening trays.

To specialise in an area of dental technology, such as clinical dental technology, you need to complete postgraduate study at the University of Otago.

Physical Requirements

Dental technicians need to have good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses) and good hand-eye co-ordination.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for dental technicians includes:

  • work in the dental services industry, such as dental assisting
  • any work requiring fine hand-eye co-ordination, such as making precision models or jewellery.

Personal Qualities

Dental technicians need to be:

  • accurate, with an eye for detail
  • patient
  • practical
  • good at planning and problem-solving
  • creative.

Skills

Dental technicians need to have knowledge of:

  • the structure and functions of the teeth, jaw and mouth
  • different dental equipment, methods and materials
  • modelling, shaping and sculpting
  • chemistry and general science.

Those running their own business also need small business skills.

Conditions

Dental technicians:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may be required to do some evening and weekend work
  • work in dental laboratories.

Subject Recommendations

To enter tertiary training you need to have NCEA Level 3. Useful subjects include chemistry, biology, physics, maths and health education. 

Dental Technicians can earn around $44K-$48K per year.

Pay for dental technicians varies depending on experience, and whether you work in the public or private sector.

  • New dental technicians usually earn minimum wage.
  • After two years they may earn up to $48,000.
  • With four or more years' experience, they may earn between $48,000 and $70,000 or more. 

Source: New Zealand Institute of Dental Technologists, 2017. 

Dental technicians may set up their own businesses, work in research and development with international dental companies, become sales representatives and technical advisers for international companies, or teach at the University of Otago Faculty of Dentistry. 

Dental technicians may specialise in the role of:

Clinical Dental Technician
Clinical dental technicians make full dentures, partial dentures and other oral devices, and work directly with patients to provide these.

Years Of Training

3 years of training required

To become a dental technician you need to complete a Bachelor of Dental Technology from the University of Otago.

You also need to be registered with the Dental Council of New Zealand, and hold an annual practising certificate.

The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can’t be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children.

Dental Technician