In the 1980’s I approached every dentist in the small town where we
lived in Upstate NY asking them if they’d take some one on and train
them in Dental Technology–crown and bridge work. I was an aspiring
jeweler, recently out of college with Studio Art (mostly jewelry and
metals) and Lit magors. I had been making jewelry on my own for
several years, working on my own pieces and on and off at trade
One dentist responded, had me over and showed me how to carve a
crown in wax. We cast it, I finished it, learned how the mouth works
and began a 3 year relationship with the office. Eventually I taught
myself porcelain work as well.
I was quite taken with casting in school and easily transferred my
abilities to c and b work. It was here, in the lab at Dr. Wiggin’s
office that I learned to really handle a variety of waxes (not
carving waxes) and to cast precisely and confidently. The scale and
demand for precision was very much like jewelry making. The anatomy
of teeth was beautiful, like a small sculpture that had to function.
I discovered a variety of rubberized abrasives that I still use today
and a vacuum mixing machine that I also still use to mix my
investments. (I’ve seen a brand new dental vacuum mixing unit in the
metals studio of a Tucson community college.)
At the time, no one was really using dental products in jewelry
studios. These days a large variety of dental industry products are
available in Rio’s catalogues and others. Certain abrasives,
products from Ney and Kerr, some waxes that were developed for dental
technology are all available now in our catalogues. The two fields
are soooo close. (Funny thing: when I was doing it, other
technicians that I met were terrified of soldering!)
It’s important to mention that at night I would work on my own
jewelry, so the two pursuits really meshed.
While I am no longer working with teeth, I found the experience
Good luck in whatever you choose.