Dental Technician

Job description

Dental Technicians assist and support Dental Officers in delivering dental services to Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members and, occasionally, their families and dependants. 

A Dental Technician has the following primary duties: 

  • Perform preventive dentistry procedures and deliver preventive dentistry instruction
  • Produce dental x-rays and preliminary impressions for study casts
  • Perform clinical dental laboratory procedures
  • Perform preventive maintenance on dental equipment
  • Manage dental supplies and records
  • Drive and maintain the Mobile Dental Clinic
  • Operate and maintain the Air Transportable Dental System

 

 

Transcript

Dental Technician

MASTER CORPORAL LORNA ROBERTS:  I’m Master Corporal Lorna Roberts from Conception Bay, Newfoundland.  I’m a Dental Technician currently serving at Canadian Forces Base Halifax.

CORPORAL STACEY WILLIAMSON: And I’m Corporal Stacey Williamson from Ottawa, Ontario, a Dental Technician with 2 Field Ambulance in Petawawa, Ontario.

WILLIAMSON:  Serving as a Dental Technician in the Canadian Forces takes your professional skills and dedication to your patients and lets you practice them in a unique and exciting environment.

ROBERTS: Whether it’s a modern clinic on a base at home in Canada… driving the mobile dental clinic and setting it up for an army unit in the field… or even working aboard a Navy ship in the middle of the ocean… the challenges and opportunities will test you every day.

WILLIAMSON: Well, you definitely have to be versatile, you definitely have to be flexible, you have to work with what you have.  We care for our patients no matter what their condition is, no matter where we are.  So whether we’re in a field unit, in a field SEV, or we’re working in a clinic, the patient is still going to get 100% care 100% of the time.

WILLIAMSON: In the Canadian Forces, you’ll be working chair side with some of the finest dentists and oral surgeons in Canada.

ROBERTS:  The salary and benefits are outstanding… not to mention the job security! There are great opportunities for continuing your education, specializing and upgrading your skills, and, after only a few years of service, the possibility of being trained as a fully qualified Dental Hygienist.

ROBERTS: You also have the option of serving part-time as a member of the Health Services Reserve.

WILLIAMSON: Just like in a civilian practice, you’ll be performing all the regular duties of a dental assistant as well as taking x-rays, making dental impressions, and keeping records.

WILLIAMSON: In the military, you’re challenged, you’re exposed to many more things, you don’t just do dental assisting.

ROBERTS: I got in, and suddenly I was driving huge trucks and going through the woods in the middle of the night with a little compass and firing machine guns.

WILLIAMSON: As you can see here, we do field training, we take dental to the field, we take dental to the ships, we take dental overseas.  And I just wanted to be a part of it in more of an active role rather than just walking into a clinic day by day, and doing regular, routine work.

ROBERTS: I’m really enjoying this part of my life, I must say. 

MODULE 2 – What’s cool about the job

WILLIAMSON: The nice thing also about being in the military is you don’t just have to do that one job.  Even though I’m trained as a dental assistant, they give you other experiences and they give you opportunities for growth.  And that growth came for me when I was able to work with 2 Field Amb going overseas and working in a medical clinic.  It’s one thing to be able to serve the people here in Canada, to be able to serve our members, but to go further, to go abroad, that was an excellent opportunity, I really enjoyed it.

ROBERTS: Last year, I went with the US military for seven weeks, I went down to Central America. In Guatemala, I was actually flown into the mountains. We got to go in there daily for six days.  You don’t feel like you’re just doing your job, you feel like you’re giving back at the same time.  It was hard some days, but then you walked away and you thought how much better things were because you were there.

MODULE 3 – Trade-Specific Training

ROBERTS: To qualify for entry into the Canadian Forces as a Dental Technician, you’ll need to have your Level Two Dental Assisting Diploma from a Canadian college, or your certificate from the National Dental Assisting Examining Board. If you’re just thinking about a career as a Dental Technician, or if you’re currently enrolled in Dental Assistant Level Two training at a Canadian college, you may qualify to have the Canadian Forces pay the entire cost of your education, in exchange for a period of mandatory service after you graduate.

ROBERTS:  Every Dental Technician has to complete the same Basic Training that an infantry soldier or an Air Force technician completes.

ROBERTS:  After Basic Training, you’ll undergo additional training at Canadian Forces Base Borden, in Ontario. This lasts for approximately eight weeks. The first half of that time will be spent learning how to drive and set up the mobile dental clinic.

ROBERTS: Borden is also the home of the Canadian Forces Health Services Training Centre. You’ll spend four weeks there on your Basic Dental Technician Course, focusing primarily on clinic administration and field operations.

MODULE 4 – Your First Posting

WILLIAMSON: Your first posting will be at a dental clinic in Canada. You’ll be part of an experienced, motivated, and highly trained team.

WILLIAMSON: In a multifaceted clinic, you’re being exposed to a lot more.  And it’s nice, because again, that works on your skills and it just expands your knowledge.  And it shows, if you’re interested in certain areas, that’s an avenue that you can then pursue and the military will support you in doing that, which is great.

ROBERTS: I’ve worked in all the specialties, here.  So we have an oral surgeon, a prosthodontist, a periodontist.  I’ve done the administration of the floor, where I run sick parades, decide how things are handled.  So you never just do your job, you’re always doing your job and then moving on to the next job.

ROBERTS: Most Dental Technicians work a normal 40-hour week, Monday through Friday, with occasional night and weekend on-call responsibilities to handle emergencies. Of course, when you’re deployed on a field exercise or at sea, the demands of the mission always come first.

ROBERTS:  There’s a wide range of specialty courses available to help you upgrade your skills – fully paid-for, of course! You might be interested in emergency dentistry, field operations, or clinic management. And there’s always the opportunity for deployment and travel.

ROBERTS: I like the fact that I get to learn.  I enjoy not just doing the same thing every day. And the military doesn’t really give you that option.  They always push you to be more and it’s a really rewarding feeling.

MODULE 5 – Testimonials

WILLIAMSON: The dental care within the military is exceptional.  The skills and the training that we receive are amazing; the newest equipment is always there.  They’re always open to furthering knowledge, bringing new things into the military. It’s awesome, it’s an excellent opportunity – it’s great.

ROBERTS: It’s not so much when I’m here, but it’s when I get to speak to my daughter’s friends and they ask about what I do, and they see the pictures of where I’ve been and all the great things I’ve done.  And they’re kind of amazed that the opportunity is there for them.  And it makes me very proud.  My son would call me when I was away, and he’d be like “Mom, who did you help today?”  You know, it’s pretty—it tears you up a little bit, it’s pretty amazing.

Overview

Working environment

Dental Technicians normally work in a professional dental office. When in the field with an Army unit, they may work in a Mobile Dental Clinic or an Air Transportable Dental System. They may also work onboard a ship. Dental Technicians may be posted to a base within Canada or deployed on operations around the world.

Pay and career development

The starting salary for a fully trained Dental Technician is $49,400 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Dental Technicians who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training. At the rank of Sergeant, they are eligible for training as a Dental Hygienist.

Related civilian occupations

  • Dental Assistant
  • Dental Hygienist

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Training

Basic military qualification

The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or Basic Training, held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the CAF physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.

Basic occupational qualification training

Dental Technicians must complete Basic Driver Training, which prepares them to drive the Mobile Dental Clinic Trailer and other medium-duty vehicles. Upon completion of Basic Driver Training, Dental Technicians will then enter the Dental Technician Course at the Canadian Forces Health Services Training Centre in Borden, Ontario. The Dental Technician Course is a four-week program focused on field operations and dental clinic administration.

Specialty training

Dental Technicians may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • Palliative Dental Emergency Procedures
  • Dental Clinic Management
  • Field Dental Support

Advanced training

As they progress in their career, Dental Technicians who demonstrate the required ability and potential will be offered advanced training. Available courses include:

  • Instructional Techniques
  • Dental Hygiene

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Entry plans

Direct entry

If you already have a Level II Dental Assisting Diploma from an accredited college or a National Dental Assisting Examining Board Certificate, including a registration/licence with the provincial regulatory body where applicable (provincial regulatory organizations) and 900 hours clinical experience within the last three years, the CAF may place you directly into the any required on-the-job training program following basic training. No minimum experience is required for new graduates. Basic training and military occupation training is required before being assigned.

Paid education

Non-commissioned Member Subsidized Education Program (NCM STEP)

Because this position requires specialty training, the CAF will pay successful recruits to attend the diploma program at an approved Canadian college. NCM SEP students attend basic training and on-the-job training during the summer months. They receive full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full-pay in exchange for working with the CAF for a period of time. If you choose to apply to this program, you must apply both to the CAF and the appropriate college. For more information, see Paid education.

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Part-time option

This occupation is available part-time within the following environment: Army

Serve with the Reserve Force

The role of the Canadian Forces Health Services Reserves is to provide trained personnel to support, augment and sustain Canadian Forces Health Services organizations for Forces operations and training activities, while building and maintaining links between the Forces and the local community.

As a health care professional in the Health Service Reserves, you must have an unrestricted licence to practise in your clinical field (including certification in your specific specialty) and have the ability to maintain clinical currency within your civilian workplace.

This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve at certain locations across Canada. Reserve Force members usually serve part time with a military unit in their community, and may serve while going to school or working at a civilian job. They are paid during their training. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.

Part-time employment

Dental Technicians serve may serve with the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army or the Royal Canadian Air Force as part of the Canadian Forces Health Services Group.  They are employed to assist and support Dental Officers in delivering dental services to Forces members and, occasionally, their families and dependants. When they are employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis they usually serve at a location within Canada.

Reserve Force training

Reserve Force members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts. They usually begin training with their home unit to ensure that they meet the required basic professional military standards. Following basic military training, Dental Technicians attend a course on driver training on medium-duty vehicles and the Mobile Dental Clinic trailer and then a four-week Dental Technician Course at the Canadian Forces Health Services Training Center in Borden, Ontario.

Working environment

Reserve Force members usually serve part-time with their home unit for scheduled evenings and weekends, although they may also serve in full-time positions at some units for fixed terms, depending on the type of work that they do. They are paid 85 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.

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