“I have the coolest job ever!”
That is what I said to my husband after my first day at the Lab, and I still feel that way more than thirty years later. Life as a dental technician is a perfect fit for an artist with an interest in health. Working with our eyes and hands to design three-dimensional works of art individualized for each patient, is gratifying on many levels. Working with committed dentists to improve the lives of their patients, whether restoring function or idealizing esthetics, is a great reason to hop out of bed each morning.
We have a saying at the Lab that if you make it here 2 years, you are a lifer. Many of our technicians have worked at the Lab over 10, 20, even 30 years, in large part because the work is so satisfying. As the Lab celebrates its 50th year, it is fun to look back at all the changes; for as we know, the only way to survive is to adapt.
When I first started at the lab, we had belt driven handpieces, we were torch casting, our ceramic ovens were manually operated, and we soldered bridge connections. Today, our handpieces are pneumatic, we use induction casting (giving us beautiful, dense castings), we are laser welding connections (no more soldering), and our ceramic ovens are computer controlled. And think of what digital has brought to dentistry with CAD/CAM, printing, and milling!
What hasn’t changed in 50 years is anatomy and function. It is important not to get distracted by all the new technology and forget about our basic purpose: to create beautiful teeth that improve lives and help make people smile. After all, our mouths are the gateway to our health. The ability to chew is the beginning of the digestive process and allows us to enjoy the foods we love. To be relegated to applesauce instead of taking a bite out of a fresh apple takes the joy out of daily life and doesn’t deliver as many nutritional benefits. And to improve a person’s appearance and confidence by restoring their smile can be a life changer. We had one patient who at 70 years of age bought her first tube of lipstick after her crowns were placed, because she was finally proud of her smile.
There have been a lot of changes and we know more are on the way. It is interesting to consider what dentistry and dental technology will be like 50 years from now!