The Malta Independent 13 June 2024, Thursday
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The role of the dental technologist

Friday, 7 June 2024, 15:00 Last update: about 6 days ago

The Malta Dental Technologists Association (MDTA), in collaboration with the European Federation for Dental Lab owners in Dental Technology Services (FEPPD), promoted the Dental Technologist's Day on 7 June.

FEPPD came up with this now yearly idea of informing the European dental patient on the exclusive role this autonomous profession holds within the Dental Professional team, as the manufactures of all forms of custom-made dental appliances.


The dental technologist

The dental technologist forms part of the dental professional team, with the role of constructing a custom-made dental device for the identified dental patient, in collaboration with a dental practitioner. Alternatively, he services already-in-use devices, in repair and alteration as required.

A ​dental technologist may also manufacture specialised appliances. These devices may vary from orthodontic braces, meant to align proper tooth positions to functional and orthognathic appliances, constructed to improve occlusion and complicated jaw relationship, after surgery.

The services provided also include removable dentures in acrylic or chrome cobalt (metal framed), replacing partially or totally lost teeth in the oral cavity, to help the dental patient regain his original mastication and speech phonetics. Fixed crown and bridge work, in a wide variety of materials and techniques including implant supported devices. These devices serve to preserve the oral tissue in the best condition possible. The dental technologist also has a role in maxillofacial restoration, in reconstructing faces traumatised by disease or accidents.


Education and status of the profession

The basic Dental Technology course, held at the Faculty of Dental Surgery at the University of Malta, is a three-year course, awarding a B.Sc. (Hons) in D.T. Within a scientific background, it takes a high element of manual dexterity and an eye for detail, along with IT knowledge to keep abreast of the modern technological innovations in the profession. Specialised courses are also being programmed to cover the several specialised sectors of this Health Care Profession. To-date students may extend their studies to obtain an MSc in Dental Science, Gerontology and Digital Dentistry at UoM.


Career opportunities

BSc graduates are immediately registered and licenced by the CPCM. They may find employment in both the private sector, managing their own lab and in Government Health Centres, interacting with all professions within the Dental Team and other groups of Health Care Professionals. Dental technologists in possession of an MSc are exposed to the ambiance for teaching/lecturing undergraduates, supervising and monitoring of students.


Regulation of the profession

Locally the profession is regulated by Maltese law within the Health Professions Act, as an Allied Health care professional, and any practicing qualified technologist is registered with the Council for the Professions Complementary to Medicine (CPCM), subject to a Code of Ethics and a Code of Conduct. As manufacturers of custom-made dental devices, dental technologists are obliged to conform by the Medical Devices Regulation. The first dental technologists were registered by the Council in 1985, while in 2009 the first dental technologists were awarded a warrant by the President of Malta following an amendment in the Health Care Act in 2008.


Scope of the dental technologist's day event

FEPPD decided to launch this activity, using it as a means of awareness to expose singularly the profession of the dental technologist in its proper status, the legal standing and the services he/she provides in favour of the dental patient.

The scope of practice of a dental technologist differs from that of a dentist/dental surgeon as they are laboratory based while that of the dentist is clinically based. A dental technologist is not a dentist, however, together they strive to produce the best possible solutions for a patient's aesthetic and functional requirements. Communication and coordination between both practitioners is essential to give the best possible evaluation and information for the end-users' needs.

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