Denturists - What They Do

Denturists examine patients and design, construct and repair removable dentures. Most denturists work in private practice.

Job duties

This group performs some or all of the following duties:

  • Measure patients' jaws to determine size and shape of dentures required
  • Make impressions of patients' teeth, gums and jaws
  • Design and construct dentures or direct other workers to construct dentures
  • Insert, fit and modify new dentures
  • Repair dentures
  • Reline, rebase and adjust dentures
  • Fabricate mouth protectors, anti-snoring prostheses and removable prostheses on implants
  • May order radiographs
  • May prepare partial dentures
  • May perform denture whitening and cleaning.

Job titles

  • dental mechanic
  • denturist
  • denturologist
Employment Requirements

This is what you typically need for the job:

  • Completion of a two- or three-year college program in denturism/denturology is required.
  • An internship in a registered denture clinic may be required.
  • Licensing by a provincial or territorial regulatory body is required.

Essential Skills


  • Read product labels to obtain instructions for use, health warnings and first aid procedures. (1)
  • Read about new products in catalogues, brochures and pamphlets. (2)
  • Read articles in industry magazines such as Denturism Canada to learn about recent studies and new clinical procedures. (3)
  • Read referral letters from dentists and oral surgeons which describe specific work to be performed on patients, provide relevant medical background information and discuss recent radiological examinations. (3)
  • Refer to instructional and technical manuals for dental devices and denture manufacturing equipment. They scan these texts to find out how to operate and troubleshoot equipment such as dental attachments and denture polishing machines. (3)
  • May review provincial acts and regulations governing denturist practice to understand their legal responsibilities and the limitations of their practices. (4)

Document use

  • Enter patients' appointment times into books and electronic office management software. (1)
  • Complete entry forms. They enter product codes and prices of materials such as denture shade guides and impressions into order forms and patient identification information, dates, descriptions of services provided, costs and fee codes into intake and service estimate forms. They also complete work order forms for dental laboratories, specifying the fabrication requirements of dentures, partial dentures and dental appliances. (2)
  • Scan regulated fee schedules for allowable charges when billing patients, dental supply catalogues to locate items and corresponding prices, and product labels for amounts, concentrations, expiry dates and toxicity warnings. (2)
  • Review patient medical questionnaires, physician referral and consent forms before treatment. They check for serious medical conditions, medications being taken and signatures to indicate that patients understand and agree to proposed denturist treatments. (2)
  • Refer to tooth colour charts to select appropriate codes for patients' prostheses. (2)
  • Record data in patient charts, management software programs and referral forms. They enter their contact data, mouth diagrams, treatment notes, charges, payments and dentition charts to indicate the diameter, length, shape, angles and colour of teeth. (3)
  • Interpret assembly drawings in equipment manuals to set up, operate and troubleshoot equipment such as denture wax curing machines. (3)
  • Interpret radiographs of patients' dental structures. They identify the location of implants and develop plans for denture implements such as partial dentures. (4)


  • Write short notes in patients' records about examination results, planned treatments, procedures performed, patients' questions and comments, drug allergies, referrals and reminders. (1)
  • Write explanations in patient claim forms or memos to insurance companies to outline their justifications for specific procedures and fees. They also write letters of explanation to insurance companies when they are asked for additional information about claims. (2)
  • Write short referral and follow-up notes to dentists or dental specialists in which they outline concerns to be addressed, number and types of implants to be inserted and their locations and expected mobility. The notes are succinct yet cover the relevant information. (2)
  • Write detailed instructions for dental laboratories, addressing the manufacture of partial dentures or those for individual teeth required for denture fabrication. The instructions describe the size, type, composition and placement of teeth and dentures. (2)
  • May write advertising brochures and education materials for patients. For example, they may write instructions for patients explaining how to care for new dentures or exert muscular control to keep dentures in place. They also describe the tissue changes expected with new dentures and the expected wear and tear over time. They try to keep the writing informative and the tone reassuring. (3)


Money Math

  • Receive cash, cheques, debit and credit card payments and make change when receiving payment from patients for denturist services. (1)
  • Prepare patients' invoices by adding the costs of services provided, subtracting discounts and insurance reimbursements. (2)
  • Verify invoice amounts and approve payments for the purchase of denturist supplies such as tooth colour charts and dental bite blocks. (2)

Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math

  • Schedule patients' appointments to allow sufficient time for laboratory work. They rearrange their schedules to make accommodations for urgent or unplanned work and unforeseen delays in denture fabrication. (2)
  • Schedule may monitor monthly and annual business performance by calculating total sales, receivables and business costs. (3)

Measurement and Calculation Math

  • Mix compounds such as plaster, wax, rubber, silicône and chemical epoxies to make impression materials and acrylic denture bases. (2)
  • Use rulers, bite blocks, wax impressions, bow articulators and callipers to measure patients' mouths and teeth. For example, they use callipers to measure jaw width and rulers to measure denture height. They measure patients' vertical dimensions between the nose and the chin to determine the length of the upper and lower dentures, and tooth placement and the relationships between patients' upper and lower jaws to make functional wax impressions that precisely copy patients' gums and teeth. (3)

Data Analysis Math

  • Compare fabricated tooth samples to patients' teeth to identify which are closest in size and shape so that they can create natural-looking dentures. (1)
  • Calculate the average number of denturist procedures performed weekly and compare these numbers to targets. They also calculate the average time spent performing specific procedures and compare the results to industry norms. (3)

Numerical Estimation

  • Estimate the costs of dentures and dental appliances, taking into account laboratory time required to produce dentures and the number of patient appointments required to achieve proper fitting dentures. (2)
  • Estimate how much gum recession may occur when dentures are being broken in by patients and the degree of adjustment required to achieve patient comfort. They consider patients' conditions and levels of discomfort when making estimates. (3)
  • Estimate tooth angles and distances between teeth to make dentures appear as natural as possible. (3)

Oral communication

  • Listen to patients' voice mail or speak with patients about scheduling appointments. They place telephone orders for equipment and supplies. (1)
  • Interact with employees to discuss patient scheduling and delegate administrative tasks such as completing insurance claim forms. (1)
  • Exchange ideas about patient treatment plans, procedures and work load distribution with co-workers. For example, they discuss options for helping patients deal with uncomfortable dentures. (2)
  • Consult colleagues about unusual situations and conditions. For example, they seek advice from oral surgeons and dentists when they observe suspicious lesions in patients' mouths. (2)
  • Explain prescriptions for dentures and dental appliances to laboratory staff and check on work in progress. (2)
  • Negotiate with suppliers to establish the terms and conditions of sales agreements, arrange for the repair of malfunctioning equipment and provide compensation for incomplete and incorrect orders or the replacement of defective materials. (2)
  • Discuss treatment and payment options and recommendations with patients. They discuss medical and dental histories, ask relevant questions, explain procedures and explore payment plans. They use terminology that patients can understand and reassure those who are nervous or upset about replacing teeth. Many of their patients are elderly and may be lonely or hearing impaired, requiring them to invest more time for oral communication to build rapport and allay patients' fears. (3)
  • Interact with denturists at meetings, workshops and conferences to discuss professional, administrative and regulatory issues. For example, they discuss dental implant procedures, changes to provincially regulated denturist fee codes and regulations. (3)
  • Discuss patients' complex treatment needs with dentists and oral surgeons. For example, they may describe questionable lesions observed during patient assessments and question their suitability for dental implants. Denturists must use specialized dental terminology to clearly communicate patients' needs so that dentists and oral surgeons can make accurate assessments. (3)


Problem Solving

  • Do not receive payments for their services despite reminders to patients. They call collection agencies to recover the amounts owed. (1)
  • Face disruptions to their daily schedules due to patients who miss their appointments, emergencies such as broken or cracked dentures and patients who arrive late for treatments. They accommodate emergencies and late appointments by working longer hours, treating two patients concurrently, taking advantage of wait times in patient treatment processes and using 'no show' appointment slots. (2)
  • Experience equipment malfunctions or products that do not perform well. For example, denturists are faced with delays caused by equipment breakdowns. They arrange for repairs and explain the situation to patients. If they encounter materials of poor quality, denturists contact suppliers and voice their dissatisfaction. If the situations do not improve, they may seek new suppliers who provide better product lines. (2)
  • May discover that manufactured denture products do not meet quality standards. They rework the products or repeat the manufacturing processes. (2)
  • Make ill-fitting dentures and dental appliances which patients find uncomfortable or painful. They examine the patients to identify where the dentures irritate the gums and make adjustments to the dentures until the irritation stops. When dentures do not adhere to patients' gums because of insufficient suction, denturists make adjustments to improve suction, recommend adhesives or refer patients to oral surgeons for implants. (2)
  • Are confronted by dissatisfied or angry patients. For example, patients do not like the shape, colour, or size of the teeth in prostheses. The situations may be emotional, and denturists must first calm patients before they can find solutions. Denturists use tact and diplomacy to remind patients of any previous agreements made about the prostheses, re-work and adjust them or make new ones to satisfy them. (2)
  • May discover that patients have health or financial problems that limit treatment options. For example, when patients develop complicated health problems, denturists may continue to treat the patients, delay treatment until the problems are resolved, or make referrals to other health care practitioners. If they are unable to pay their bills, denturists may reduce their fees or apply to social assistance agencies for reimbursement. (3)

Decision Making

  • Make decisions about components of dental prostheses. For example, they decide the most appropriate compounds to use when making dental bases and impressions, thickness of dentures and type and colour of artificial teeth to use. They consider cost and quality when selecting dental base compounds, determine the thickness of dentures based on bite measurements and gum ridge size and select teeth which best match patients' natural teeth and colour that match previous dentures, skin complexions and their preferences. (2)
  • Decide where to place teeth in patient prostheses. They assess patients' bites and place teeth to create effective dentures. If they are improperly placed or the cusp angles are wrong, the dentures will be uncomfortable and they will be required to rework them. (2)
  • Make purchasing decisions. For example, they decide which laboratories, products and suppliers to use for denture parts and services, considering quality, price, value and availability. (2)
  • Decide to reduce their fees in special situations. For example, denturists may reduce fees if the proposed procedures are too expensive for patients on social assistance. (2)
  • Make hiring decisions. They consider their requirements and applicants' capabilities. For example, denturists hire office assistants considering their bookkeeping, word processing, organizational and interpersonal skills. (2)
  • Decide whether to repair or re-make dentures. They consider whether the repairs will shorten the dentures' life span, whether the modifications are safe, and if the materials or processes originally used caused the defects. The final decision depends on the patients' input, the denturists' knowledge, experience and cost. If flaws do not compromise fit and function of dentures, they may recommend patients use the dentures until specific problems can be identified. (3)

Critical Thinking

  • Assess patients' oral health by examining patients over a series of visits. They ask questions and use touch and observation to evaluate overall condition of oral tissues. They identify any problems that they must immediately address, problems that are likely to require attention in the future and other matters beyond their scope of practice which must be referred to dentists or physicians. (3)
  • Evaluate the appropriateness of treatments considering factors such as patients' stated needs, medical and dental histories and economic means. Treatment options range from servicing existing prostheses to designing new dentures or implant-supported prostheses. It is essential that both the patients and denturists agree to and understand the treatment plans and expectations. Such discussions are held repeatedly throughout the course of treatments. (3)
  • Assess the quality of prostheses during production. Denturists' creativity and artistry are essential to produce customized prostheses that look healthy, natural and attractive. The size and shape of patients' faces, their complexion, facial contours and features must all be considered, along with the denturists' own aesthetic sense. (3)
  • Assess the quality of dentures they have fabricated. They check to see that dentures fit patients well, have highly polished finishes and proper extensions and restore patients' abilities to bite and chew. Poor quality dentures cause oral health to suffer and damage denturists' businesses. (3)
  • Assess the fit of clients' new dentures. They consider factors, such as comfort, bite, facial aesthetics and dental noise. They may also have to assess whether patients have legitimate fitting problems or if patients have not allowed enough time for the denture appliances to settle. (3)

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Own Job Planning and Organizing

Most denturists are independent practitioners who set their own priorities and organize their work schedules according to their needs. They schedule appointments to allow sufficient time for laboratory work to be completed. They often need to adjust work schedules because of appointment cancellations or patients' emergencies. Self-employed denturists plan operations and choose long-term strategies for their businesses. (3)

Planning and Organizing for Others

Denturists plan the work of employees such as receptionists and laboratory technicians delegating tasks and supervising their work. Denturists provide directions for work procedures such as preparing insurance claim forms and scheduling patient appointments. They set priorities to help employees decide which patients have the most immediate needs. (3)

Significant Use of Memory

  • Remember patients' names and personal interests to build positive relationships with them.
  • Remember patients' special characteristics when designing prostheses. For example, they use their memory of patients' oral examinations, face, contours, complexion and features to visualize the correct shading, tooth angles and jaw configurations.
  • Recall the prices of commonly used products such as abrasives and acrylics.
  • Recall the names and contact information of suppliers they deal with on a regular basis.
  • Recall previous experiences and successful denture designs to help solve denture manufacturing problems.
  • Recall commonly used procedural and price codes; for example, the price codes for follow-up visits to check new dentures.

Finding Information

  • Find information about dental products and equipment such as denture wax, clear dentures, gold clasps and titanium frames by searching the Internet, contacting suppliers and referring to catalogues. (1)
  • Search denturist association manuals such as Guide Abrégé prepared by L'Association des Denturologistes du Québec to locate regulatory and administrative policies and fee scales. They determine how best to implement recommended policies and procedures in their practice. (2)
  • Consult user manuals for guidance on how to operate and troubleshoot equipment such as dental wax curing units, face bow articulators and grinding machines. (2)
  • Consult colleagues to discuss unusual problems, seek their opinions and obtain information regarding their experiences with similar problems. For example, they discuss problems with patients' dental implants, the design and manufacture of denture implements and medical forms required by provincial Legislation. (2)
  • Find information about new procedures and treatments by referring to trade magazines such as Denturism Canada. They use new information to improve their practice. (3)

Digital technology

  • Use word processing. For example, they draft letters to dental and medical professionals and complete insurance form templates using the basic features of word processing programs. (2)
  • Use databases. For example, they record patient data such as contact information, medical and dental histories and records of treatment using denturist practice management software. (2)
  • Use bookkeeping, billing and accounting software. For example, they create invoices and enter payments received using financial management software or accounting programs such as Simply Accounting. (2)
  • Use communications software. For example, they exchange e-mail with suppliers and colleagues. (2)
  • Use the Internet. For example, they research new dental products by using search engines and enter website URLs to locate specific web pages. (2)
  • May use graphics software. For example, they create advertising brochures that include text and photographs using desktop publishing programs. (3)
  • Use spreadsheets. For example, they create spreadsheets to record and analyze denturist practice statistics such as number of patients seen, procedures performed, income generated and expenses incurred. (3)

Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Most denturists are self-employed and assume sole responsibility for scheduling patients' appointments, examining patients, designing and making dentures and conducting administrative and financial management tasks. Some may hire laboratory assistants, receptionists and bookkeepers to assist them. Denturists in larger practices may work as team members with other denturists and laboratory and administrative assistants. (3)

Continuous Learning

Denturists set their own learning priorities. They keep abreast of new products and techniques by reading association publications and industry magazines such as Denturism Canada, and attending conventions and workshops such as the Denturist Association of Canada Annual Convention. They participate in committee meetings to discuss professional topics such as denturist legislation and listen to audio tapes, videotapes and compact discs on topics like implantology and denture emergencies. They also learn on the job through experience and consultations with dentists and other denturists. Some provinces require them to attain a minimum number of continuing education credits per year. (3)