The practice of dental technology explained
A Registered Dental Technologist (RDT) makes a major contribution to the practice of dentistry. RDT's are regulated health care professionals whose scope of practice includes the design, construction, repair or alteration of dental prosthetic, restorative and orthodontic devices.
RDT's perform their duties based on a prescription received from a dentist.
WHAT IS A REGISTERED DENTAL TECHNOLOGIST (RDT) AND WHAT IS THEIR PURPOSE?
There are five major areas of dental technology:
- Crown and bridge
- Partial dentures
- Full dentures
All work is custom made, requires specialized, integrated equipment, specific and specialized materials, as well as a great deal of skill and training. For this reason, many technologists choose to specialize in one area of dental technology. Due to the many different technologies available, a similar prosthetic (i.e. a crown) can vary widely depending on the process and materials used.
POST SECONDARY REQUIREMENTS:
In Ontario, post secondary education in dental technology is offered at George Brown College (Casa Loma Campus). The length of the program is three years (six semesters). The program offers a diverse and complex curriculum that prepares each graduating student with the necessary knowledge to establish a career in Dental Technology. Please visit the George Brown College website at www.georgebrown.ca for course requirements. Upon completion, a student will earn a diploma in dental technology.
Graduates of this program often find employment in dental laboratories, with dentists or as sales representatives with dental supply companies. Upon passing a qualifying exam, they can become a registered dental technologist in Ontario. Please visit the College of Dental Technologists of Ontario (CDTO) website at www.cdto.ca for further information. Also, the CDTO determines which applicants from outside the province/country are eligible to write this exam. The CDTO also has a Labour Mobility program in place allowing RDT's from Ontario to find work in other parts of the country. Not every province is part of this Labour Mobility program at this time.
Once an applicant has passed the qualifying exam and has met the requirements of the CDTO, he/she is now a Registered Dental Technologist (RDT). At this time, the member must operate under the rules of the Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA) and the Dental Technology Act as set forth by the CDTO. It is at this point all RDTs should join the Association of DentalTechnologists of Ontario for insurance and proper advice for their future.
RDT's are held to the same level of professionalism as the other 24 health care providers governed under the RHPA.
A RDT can be employed by a laboratory and serve one of two purposes. He/She can have "Laboratory Supervision Status", or work as a technician without this status.
RDT's without "laboratory supervision status" can be employed in a laboratory and perform all of the technical functions of the profession but cannot supervise the case from prescription to completion. They cannot be called upon to ensure that the work provided meets all the requirements.
RDT's who have obtained "laboratory supervision status" from the CDTO can accept a prescription from a dentist or another regulated health care professional and supervise the technical aspects of the case. Upon completion, the RDT will place his/her stamp on the invoice to ensure that the work case was designed, constructed, repaired, or altered in accordance with the standards of the CDTO. It also ensures that the invoice conforms to the standards of the College in that it accurately reflects the processes, materials and charges. As well, the stamp indicates that the RDT accepts responsibility for certifying that the records reviewed are adequate to design, construct, repair or alter the case. These records include impressions, intra-oral records, models, diagrams, written instructions and verbal instructions, which must be recorded in the chart. If this stamp is missing, the recipient should inquire why it is not present. Every invoice must be stamped, including no-charge invoices.
RDT's can, but do not have to be, laboratory owners. Dental laboratories can operate with a non-RDT owner as long as a RDT is supervising the work. Any person seeking the skills of a RDT should ensure that the facility they are doing business with, has a "Registered Dental Technologist" supervising the work. The best way for a dentist or another regulated health care professional to protect themselves is to meet with the RDT on staff and get to know them. Also, it is vital to look for the supervisory stamp on each case that is returned to your office. More information on Laboratory Supervision Standards is available at the CDTO website.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE RDT AND DENTIST OR OTHER HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL:
RDT's provide a service, which is a vital component in achieving the optimum result for the patient. RDT's are required to obtain and maintain the highest standards of learning expertise through their initial post secondary education to continued education programs maintained by the CDTO. While the RDT's access to the patient is limited, access to the dentist or other health care professional should not be. The dentist should feel compelled, as well as obligated to know who their RDT is. The "Dental Laboratory" is not the RDT and the RDT is not the "Dental Laboratory".
There is a clear distinction between the two. A dental laboratory could be operating in the province unsupervised. It is in the dentist's or other health care professional's best interest to ensure they are not doing business with a laboratory such as this. The result could lead to disciplinary action from the RCDSO or other College involved and it will certainly not ensure that you are providing your patients with the best services available to them.
The RDT and the dentist should be compelled to work together in the best interest of their patient. Each dental case and each dental patient is unique and should be treated as such. We owe it to the public as they put a great deal of trust in the system and the professionals.
THE ASSOCIATION OF DENTAL TECHNOLOGISTS OF ONTARIO:
The Association of Dental Technologists of Ontario (ADTO) is the authoritative voice of dental technology in Ontario; to pursue the advancement of the profession through education, communication amongst members, and liaison with external agencies; and to encourage excellence in the provision of dental technology services. The objectives of the Association are:
- To advance the science and business of dental technology and to provide a source of knowledge to members of the dental profession for the benefit of their clients and to raise the general standards of dental technology practice.
To elevate the status and recognition of our profession, as a whole and its individual members through:
- The dental profession;
- Governing bodies and associations of the dental profession;
- Educational institutions;
- Government allied trade associations;
- Manufacturers and suppliers; and
- The general public.