What is an Orthodontic Technician, and Why are They Special?

We are so lucky at Meadows orthodontics to have such great technicians, which are also called orthodontic assistants. The vast majority of orthodontic offices employ these professionals, who perform a large variety of tasks every day. They wear so many hats in our office, and our patients often become very close and form great relationships with our technicians! Because they are so important to me, and work by my side every day, I thought I would share a bit of what they do during a typical day, and describe what skills are required for their profession.

Before patients arrive in the morning, technicians arrive and open the office, turn on the computers, make sure their stations are fully stocked with all the items that we use during the day (there are hundreds!), sterilize the instruments that we use daily, and check that sterilization is working properly.

At our daily meeting, each tech has differing responsibilities to report on:

  • One tech reports on the list of patients that we will be seeing that day. She checks that we are all prepared for any special procedures that we may be performing during the day, new patients that are visiting, patients that we are placing braces on for the first time, and patients that we will be removing braces for that day.
  • One tech is in charge of keeping track of invisalign cases, and submitting them to the invisalign site after we have taken digital impressions of patients teeth from our iTero scanner. She informs me when the cases are ready for me to work up and “design”, and if there are any complications with delivery dates, etc.
  • One tech is also a laboratory technician, and she makes most of the retainers, expanders, space maintainers and thumb habit guards that we use. She creates these appliances, solders and welds them, and has me check them before we deliver them to our patients.

Once we start seeing patients, their duties include:

  • Greeting the patients, asking them about their day and lives, seating them in the treatment chairs, inquiring if they have any concerns with wearing rubber bands, if there are any loose braces, and making sure that all is comfortable.
  • They untie and remove the wires from the braces, check oral hygiene is acceptable (and give coaching if it is not!), then inform me that the patient is ready.
  • When I arrive to great the patient, they give me a summary of the patient’s progress, then record on the computer all the changes and adjustments that I perform, along with any conversations that I have with the patient or their parents regarding their dental development.
  • They them retie in the wire to the braces, and show the patient how to wear elastics as I have requested, and help them set up their next appointment with us.
  • When braces are first being placed, they clean and prepare the tooth surfaces, and help me place the braces on the teeth. I then place the braces in their final position and light cure (bond) them to the teeth.
  • When the braces are removed, they usually remove the majority of the braces, and remove the cement from the teeth. I then do the final polishing and finishing of the enamel surfaces.
  • They take radiographic images (they are all certified with radiography), take a series of photographs of teeth both before and after treatment.
  • They take impressions of patient’s teeth, using both traditional impression trays, and digital iTero scanning. These impressions are used for diagnosis and creating retainers and expanders.
  • They clean, disinfect, and sterilize the office, including our instruments, chairs, and treatment cabinets/surfaces.
  • Just as importantly, they comfort our patients if they are nervous, and create a caring, fun atmosphere that makes visiting our office a special and positive experience.

As you can see, this is a very hands-on, technical, and very social job. I hope you appreciate all that they do- I sure do!

Dr. Dan Rejman

 

Dr. Dan Rejman is the owner of Meadows Orthodontics in Castle Rock, Colorado. He currently has five orthodontic technicians on his team, who are all wonderful, dedicated professionals!