Chris Roman(The Fulcrum Grant was created to support the Dental Lab Foundation's purpose by making higher-level education more accessible to dental laboratory technicians. The grant awards up to $2,500 to supplement expenses related to an approved continuing education program. The 2014 recipient, Chris Roman, CDT, of Oak View Dental Laboratory in Washington, Pa., used the grant to attend Spear’s “Worn Dentition” workshop. He recently shared his experience with the Journal of Dental Technology.)

When I decided I wanted to become a technician, I sought out a formal education to learn the core principles of the industry. After I completed my training and entered the workforce I soon realized that what I thought I knew, I didn’t know. Being fortunate enough to have seasoned technicians and clinicians push me to gain knowledge and develop skills helped spur my interest in continuing to educate myself and expand on my core principles. As I worked my way through different courses, the importance of continually educating myself became more important to me. This emphasis on high-quality educational experiences made me seek out courses to provide advanced concepts and techniques.

In 2014, I decided to apply for the Fulcrum Grant to allow me access to advanced education beyond the usual hands-on courses. While hands-on courses are invaluable, I realized that having a better understanding of what our clinician counterparts go through would really help me with what I do at my bench. The Fulcrum Grant helped to defray the cost of an educational opportunity that would be difficult for me to afford.

After being awarded the Fulcrum Grant, I attended the Spear Education workshop, “Worn Dentition.” One of the factors for my decision was that Spear’s philosophy is perfectly aligned with the type and amount of treatment planning and diagnostics we are doing at my lab. I found that the clinicians want us to not only be technicians, but a collaborative partner in the planning, design and execution of these cases.

I had the ability to learn with top clinicians at Spear who were striving to be their best. The influence of these people and those who have so graciously mentored me has enlightened and impacted me in a positive way. I now have the confidence to not be a “back-seat driver” during the restorative process. It is easy for us as technicians to sit behind a bench and say, “Why did the doctor do that? I wish he would have called me and planned this out before starting.” But we would never call them to discuss anything we see. Now that I have gained the knowledge shared at the Spear Education course I have the tools needed to make informed decisions about restorative cases and I can discuss with the clinician what can be achieved from the laboratory aspect. I am now not just a technician but a valuable partner of the restorative team.

communicating with dental labsBecause of its ability to help fund educational experiences the Foundation has played a crucial role in helping technicians obtain a higher level of training and bring educational opportunities within reach for us. Their relationship with the NADL and the NBC has brought awareness to the complexity of training technicians and the valuable impact it has had on the technician community. With the state of our industry now, the Foundation should be honored for their efforts and resources in helping technicians succeed. After all, knowledge is power!

(This article was originally printed in the Journal of Dental Technology and was used here with permission. Their magazine can be found in print or online at Learn more about the Fulcrum Grant at