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Meet Joseph Malinga

Dental Technologist at Emela Dental Lab

Anyone who has ever lost a tooth, would sometimes wish it could grow again but as we all know once a tooth is lost (if not a milk tooth) it is never expected to grow again. This means in some cases will cause one to alter their diet in the bid not to put excessive pressure on the few teeth left hence causing one not enjoy their meals especially meet.

This means one will live with that gap for the rest of their lives. But scientist had different plans that saw the birth of the artificial teeth to act as replacements of those lost. In order to have a perfect replacement tooth that you are confortable with, Dental Technologist / Technicians came in the picture and their role is to make dentures, crowns and bridges that fit the patients. In our bid to bring you career guidance from the experts and field practioneers, today we bring you Malinga Joseph a Dental Technologist at Nakulabye Dental Clinic And Dental Lab. This is what we asked

Tell us about your self?

I am Dental Technician /Technologist working for Emela Dental Lab situated in Wandegeya. I have a Diploma in Dental Technology From Uganda Institute of Allied Health and Management Science former Mulago Paramedical School.

Describe your typical day ?

I report at 9am unless there is are any pressing needs for me to attend to, then clean and organize the lab, putting everything in place. I then embark on analyzing the work sent through to the lab and record it in a book along side the treatment plans such that incase of any client complains, i can go back to the treatment plan in the book to check out what went wrong.

The work is normaly from Dental Clinics instructing me to either make dentures, crowns or bridges for patients depending on their needs and it comes with the prescription detailing the tooth color, gum color among other things of a patient

After recording the prescriptions and treatments plans in the book, i start to work on the artifical teeth ie treaming them and when done i fix them in the appropriate models ready for delivery back to the Dental Clinic

How did you get in that career path and why did you choose that career path?

Having not excelled in High School, i did interviews in a number of Institutions seeking to be admitted in a medical related course. One of those institutions was Mbale School of Clinical Officers where i was shortlisted but didn't have money to enroll.

Tried the then Mulago Paramedical School and at first i didn't get in but when government advertised again(made a second call for applicants) i came and again did interviews and this time i got a government sponsorship to do a Diploma in Dental Technology 

I chose that career path because since childhood i had a thing for the medical field and i wanted to do something in the medical field

What are your main tasks and responsibilities at work?

1. Manage the Lab, ie recording work into the lab and the relevant treatment plans in a book
2. Assessing clients who came the lab, ie take measurements of their mouths and teeth
3. Giving clients different treatments plans for their conditions depending on the amount they are willing to spend

What are your main challenges ?

There are some challenges with clinicians who send through work whose measurements are not standard. It makes working a bit challenging
The other challenge is trying to make patients appreciate the treatment plans given to them. It is psychological as they may take long to get used to having an artificial tooth their mouth. So it takes alot of convincing for some of them but after sometime, they surely get used and learn to live with it

What particular skills do you bring to your workplace ?

1. Communication Skills, i work with people and i need to be able to communicate effectively with them 
2. One must be ethical in every aspect be it social be it medical because you deal with people of different characters so you must be able to manage them
3. Artistry and Creativity. When treaming the artificial teeth and fitting them in the models, it requires alot of art as 90% of the work in the lab is artistic in nature. When i get work, i imagine how i can make someone smile again with this artificial tooth and hence takes creativity to come up with a treatment plan that can make me achieve that

What's cool about your job ?

It is a well paying job. 

What's not cool about your job ?

The field is still growing so it calls for alot of sensitization as many people are unawawre about the services we provide hence there are serious fluctuations in work load

How did you get into your current job ?

From school, we were required to do internship and i linked out with someone who had a Dental Lab and we started working together. After sometime, he endorsed me as an employee of his Dental Lab. But ofcourse i had done volunteer work in Dental Technology field while still at campus so i had some experience before i went out for internship

What subjects did you take in school and how have they influenced your career path ?

I started Senior Five doing Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Agriculture (PCB/Agri)  but wasn't able to excel well so i repeated Senior Five and i changed to Biology,Chemistry, Geography and Fine Art (BCG/FA). Biology made me appreciate human anatongy which was very relevant in Dental Technology, Chemistry made me appreciate chemical and mixtures as i use them every day in the Dental Lab and Fine Art skills are very helpful in the practical aspects of Dental technology e.g in treaming teeth, curving wires in Orthodontics

What aspects of your Education System have proven most important for your job?

School taught me how manage people of various character as well as freely interact people, i wasnt the type who could freely interact with people for a long period of time but studying courses like medical ethics and communication skills, i learnt the value of communication

What trends are you seeing in your career field?

The practice is rather a new one in Uganda, there are few practioneers(less than 50) so in the future i am seeing many practioneers in the field hence tremendouslygrowth in this field.
I too see the increased use of Digital Technologies specially a CAD/CAM ((computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing) where a computer takes measurements of patients and the machine makes for you crowns and bridges that fit a patient. Pan Dental Clinic has that technology already in Uganda

Which key people influenced your career direction ?

My uncle greatly influenced me to take this career direction, i remember him telling me that if i am to go to the medical field, i ought to do something technological.In sense that you may not have to look for someone to employ you, as long as you have your machinery you can do work.

What is your dream job?

I would want to be a consultant in the Dental Technology Field

What have been the most rewarding events in your career so far?

I have been able to acquire equipement of my own that is a micromotor,a polishing lathe,a pressure cooker and other accessories and i too hope to start my own dental lab some day some day

As a student, how did you cope up with the pressure to succeed / excel in class?

As a student, i devoted alot of time to the acquisition of hands on skills so i spent alot of time in the lab perfecting my skills. I spent alot of time in the lab, working with Lecturers, consulting them all the way. This compesented for my not being very good at class work (theory). I also quit Alchol as i couldnt practice dental technology when i am not steady and this greatly improved my concentration

What advise would you give someone considering this job?

Someone has to be focused and have that urge to build on the skills got from school as school is very different from practice. Someone needs to put their knowledge and skills to work. 

What kind of work experience would provide a good background for this position?

They must have a background of Artistry and a Diploma in Dental Technology as well as well knowledgable about the Dental Field and its trends

Any Concluding remarks

I beseech the students to be focused and always looking outside the box.For then we will be able to produce our own dental products and stop importing products from China and other countries. Doing Dental Technology, you will surely wont go wrong

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