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Dr Ali Nankali believes that dental technicians have received insufficient support during the pandemic, from both the government and the members of the dental team. (Image: Ali Nankali)

Dental technicians: The missing link

By Dr Ali Nankali
March 11, 2021

If you ask a dental patient to which member of the dental team we should give our thanks, many of them would say to dentists and dental nurses. What do you think is the correct answer? I assume we all agree that dentists cannot provide an appropriate healthcare service without their team. Members of the dental team who are registered with the General Dental Council (GDC) are clinical dental technicians, dental hygienists, dental nurses, dental technicians, dental therapists, dentists and orthodontic therapists. Unfortunately, it seems to me that some members of this team have not been treated equally during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article, I want to talk about dental technicians as an integral part of the dental team.

I am a prosthodontist, and a large part of the healthcare services that I provide depend on dental technicians. We are in constant contact, as they help me during patient treatment and sometimes provide training for new learners while observing various issues that need to be addressed, such as delays in receiving work or a slight decrease in the quality of work.

Chad Cluff. (Image: Queen Mary University of London)

Chad Cluff, tutor dental technologist at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry at Queen Mary University of London in the UK, told me that many dental laboratory spaces are relatively inadequate for adopting required social distancing measures. Thus, not everyone can be present at work at the same time, and the absence of some employees can cause a delay in the delivery of the service and affect work performance. Cluff noted that the situation is currently beyond remedy.

Adel Houmani, lead technical skills manager at the university, said that the delays in work could have been caused by other reasons. He noted that all dental impressions have to be properly disinfected and that the process requires additional time. He also mentioned that it is unknown whether the virus can survive in dental impressions, and therefore dental technicians should do their best to avoid any contamination.

Houmani also added that some dental laboratories are a great deal quieter than usual. According to him, this quietness could be explained by patients not visiting the dentist regularly since the onset of the pandemic. There has been a decrease in workload, and this is directly affecting dental laboratory finances and thus putting the owners and partners under pressure. So how can we help dental technicians?

Adel Houmani. (Image: Ali Nankali)

According to Houmani, dental laboratory fees are always a topic of discussion. However, since many dentists are looking to save money, increasing the fees would result in losing orders. It seems that this issue is gradually worsening, and a few organisations, such as the Dental Technologists Association in the UK, have warned that patients will soon be experiencing long delays in receiving their custom-made dental appliances.1

It has upset me to learn that, whereas dentists are being supported via the National Health Service, the country is likely to lose many qualified dental technicians for the lack of government support.2 Some sources suggest that over 1,000 dental technicians are currently out of work and that many of them are unable to maintain their registration with the GDC.3

According to dental technicians, dental technology has for too long been considered external to the dental team.However, I want to emphasise that we are a team, and we have continued to provide healthcare services to everyone who has needed our help during the pandemic. We need to realise that, during this pandemic, dental technicians have faced great difficulty in accessing any form of support, not just that from the government. Therefore, they do not only need financial help from health authorities; they also need support from the members of the dental team.

Dr Ali Nankali is a clinical senior lecturer at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry at Queen Mary University of London in the UK and the president of UKDentalCourses. (Image: Ali Nankali)

We, as members of the dental team, should appreciate what dental technicians are doing for us and our patients, and this appreciation should be passed on to other members of our society. To achieve that, I am starting with myself. As stated recently, dental technicians have to maintain their registration with the GDC and keep their continuing professional development (CPD) up to date to remain employable.5 As president of UKDentalCourses, an active educational organisation in the UK, I am happy to tailor non-profitable CPD courses to their needs. Therefore, I ask our respected dental technicians to send their requests to enquiry@ukdentalcourses, and we will do our best to address your needs.

In addition, UKDentalCourses would like to invite every member of the dental team to attend The Restored Link online event. The event is aimed at showing dental technicians our appreciation and respect and listening to their enquiries. Please join us and express your needs and concerns.

Editorial note: A list of references is available from the author upon request.

  1. Ricci says:

    Bonjour
    Juste pour vous remercier pour cet article.. Je suis ex infirmière et naturopathe.. J’ai eu des problèmes de santé suite à une sensibilite au Titane.. L’implant est retiré, j’ai bon espoir bien cordialement Béatrice

  2. Jamieson McCormack says:

    I recently went through a trauma and all my top teeth are restorations. There’s still a lot of tooth structure under them, if that helps for using any pulp that’s there.

    They’re just so sensitive, it’s agony to eat. I’d give anything to live and enjoy food normally again. Or, to at least have my front 6 teeth back.

    I am 34, F, no health concerns. If I could be a good candidate for the human trials, I’d love to be considered.

  3. Sara Soto Manuelo says:

    Información de la especialidad de Odontopediatria

  4. Liliana Santiago says:

    Dentist paid in full in first visit. He continues postponing to finish the job. One of his team make a comment about fees paid in advance and do now postponed the procedure, in this case implantst. A staff member said after an incident that it was my choice to be in her clinic. Today, tooth #15 make still has a sore product of 4 injections treating an infection. It hurst and is nake. Can i ask the dentist 8,000$ in advance to be returned.

  5. Kim Herremans says:

    Bravo! Well said.

  6. Dott. Diego Laguardia says:

    Complimenti Angelo! Bellissimo caso!

  7. Dental Tribune Middle East says:

    Derar afrah qadri, visit https://cappmea.com/courses for the handson courses organised by CAPP.

  8. lubnairam says:

    Plz can I know the price?

  9. CLINICA BERGUER says:

    En Madrid (España) el Colegio de OdontoEstomatologos ha tenido un perfecta organización. El día 22 de Marzo recibí la 2,° dosis de Pfizer. Del colegio de Médicos y del Estado no me han llamado ni para la 1^ dosis y tengo 75 años.

  10. Bitte senden Sie mir ein Testkit zu. Vielen Dank

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