Dental Technician Course and Class Descriptions
Dental technicians, also called dental lab technicians, work in laboratories fabricating dental prosthetics such as dentures, bridges and crowns. Courses in dental technology are taken as part of a full certificate or degree program.
Although formal education is not a requirement to work as a dental technician, vocational schools, community colleges and universities offer certificate and associate's degree programs in dental laboratory technology. These programs can take around two years and allow students to explore the science behind the human mouth and the materials used to make dental prosthetics. Students usually gain significant hands-on professional practice working with dental appliances, often through laboratory instruction and work at a dental office.
One of the first courses students usually take provides an introduction to dental anatomy and morphology. After learning the basics of the human mouth and teeth, students go on to study the types of materials used for creating dental prosthetics, including dentures, crowns, orthodontic appliances and bridges. Later courses teach students to create and repair partial and full-set dentures, shape and polish ceramic dental implants and make both removable and fixed orthodontic appliances. Associate's degree programs often include advanced courses on these topics.
Dental technicians can pursue the Certified Dental Technician (CDT) certification. To qualify to take the three required exams, one must have completed an approved training program or have at least five years of work experience. Individuals can choose from various specializations, including dentures, ceramics, orthodontics and implants.
List of Courses
Some sample courses taken in a dental technician certificate or degree program are explained below.
Dental Anatomy and Morphology Course
The makeup of the human mouth and the development and placement of teeth are introduced in this course. Dental terms are defined. An overview of dentition and dental care through a human lifecycle is presented in laboratory and classroom settings. This is one of the first dental technician courses taken in a dental technology program.
Full-Set Prosthodontics Course
Dental technicians train in dental prosthodontics, the art and science of creating false teeth, in this course. Techniques for fabricating a complete set of dentures by evaluating and modeling the human mouth are taught. Students learn to select, position and mold prosthetic teeth to create the denture set. Repairing broken dentures is part of the curriculum.
Partial Prosthodontics Course
When only a few teeth need to be replaced, a dentist may call for a partial set of false teeth to be created. In this course, dental technician students learn to design and construct these removable partial dentures. Instruction includes disinfection procedures for removable dentures.
Materials for Dental Prosthetics Course
Dental technicians use both metallic and non-metallic materials when creating dental prosthetics. In this course students learn to identify, select, measure and process materials for preparing cast impressions and constructing dental prosthetics. Skills learned in this course include soldering and welding techniques for making metal dental implants. In some dental technician programs, metallic and non-metallic materials may covered in separate courses.
Dental Ceramics Course
Shaping porcelain used in crowns is one of the techniques taught in a dental ceramics course. Students learn to fuse ceramic to metal to create dental bridgework. Techniques for polishing and staining ceramic dental implants are covered.
Orthodontic Appliance Construction Course
Students learn to create fixed and removable appliances used in orthodontia. Skills learned include bending wires, soldering and creating metal clasps. Students use patients' mouth casts to build orthodontic appliances used in correcting malocclusion, a dental condition where the upper and lower teeth do not fit together properly.
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