Top Dentists: Ceramist Uses Artist’s Touch to Put Final Details on Dental Work

Illustration by Pete Ryan


Certified dental lab technician, lab manager, and ceramist Debbie Wasky at Providence Prosthodontics Dental Group in Orange shares her expertise.

What is a ceramist?
I put the icing on the cake—I finish crowns with porcelain so they look more natural. One of the dentists (Drs. David and Gregory Guichet) sends the patient’s scans to the lab, and a technician designs and sets the crown using computer-assisted technology. Once the crown is milled in zirconium, it looks chalky. We cut it from the zirconium block and color it with special liquids. It’s all in how the different colors are layered to give it that realistic look. Each crown usually takes me a few hours, not counting the time it needs to be fired between each layer of porcelain and then cooled down. Aesthetically, it’s usually about what the patient wants, but when I have a patient who gives me some leeway, I get excited because it’s more of an artistic zone and a little more fun.

Did you study art?
I always liked arts and crafts growing up, and I took art classes through grade school, high school, and community college.

Is an in-house lab unique for a dental office?
Most laboratories are commercial ones that service a lot of dentists. Our lab provides more control for patients and better quality for aesthetics and function. I do consultations with patients to find out what they want for their crowns.

You’ve been here 31 years and have done ceramics for about 20. What’s your favorite part of the job?
One thing I love is that our other technicians—Dennis Tu, Hai Tran, and Maury Alvizar—are just as dedicated as I am. They are driven to be the best at what they do, and the final results show it. Each crown has to go through several people before it gets to me and they give me a pristine canvas to work with.

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