How to Become a Dental Technician in 5 Steps

Dental technicians work with dentists and patients to create custom dental appliances. If you want to become a dental technician, you can do so by completing a dental technician program and obtaining certification. Follow these five steps to become a dental technician.

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Introduction

A dental technician is a member of the dental team who helps to make and repair teeth and mouth appliances. Dental technicians work in dental laboratories and usually have an associate’s degree or certificate in dental technology. Some states require licensure. The following are five steps you can take to become a dental technician.

Step 1: Complete a Program in Dental Technology
Most dental technicians have an associate’s degree or certificate in dental technology from a community college, vocational-technical school, or four-year college. These programs typically last two to three years and include classroom and laboratory work in such subjects as science, anatomy, physiology, tooth morphology, and electromechanical technology. Some programs also offer opportunities for externships or clinical experience in dentists’ offices or dental laboratories.

Step 2: Become Licensed or Certified
Although licensure is not required for all positions as a dental technician, some states require licensure for those who work in commercial laboratories that manufacture dentures and other appliances. In addition, the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) offers voluntary certification for technicians who graduate from CODA-accredited programs. Certification requires passing written and practical exams.

Step 3: Consider Specialization
Some technicians specialize in designing and fabricating full or partial removable dentures while others focus on crowns and bridges, veneers, implants, orthodontic appliances, or maxillofacial prosthetics such as obturators (devices used to close holes in the palate caused by cancer) and eye socket prostheses. Other technicians specialize in Ceramics, where they fabricate esthetic restorations such as porcelain veneers; Inlays/Onlays; Crowns/Bridges (Fixed Prosthodontics); Removable Prosthodontics – Dentures/Partials; Implant Restorations;Maxillofacial Prosthetics – Obturators/Eyesockets;and Orthodontic Appliances . Many qualified technicians choose to become managers or supervisors of staffs in large laboratories.

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Step 4: Advance Your Career
Once you have gained experience as a dental technician, you may wish to pursue management positions or open your own laboratory. Many technical colleges and universities offer bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in dental technology that can prepare you for advanced careers in research and education. Coursework at the bachelor’s level generally includes more liberal arts classes than at the associate’s degree level while master’s degree programs typically require students to conduct independent research projects

Step One: Research Dental Technician Programs

The first step to becoming a dental technician is to research accredited dental technician programs. Programs typically take two years to complete and lead to an Associate’s degree or certificate. During your time in a dental technician program, you will take courses in anatomy, physiology, dentistry, and dental materials. You will also receive clinical experience in a lab setting. Upon completion of an accredited program, you will be eligible to sit for the Dental Technician National Board (DTNB) exam.

Step Two: Complete a Dental Technician Program

In order to become a dental technician, you must complete a dental technician program that has been accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA). There are currently only about 50 such programs in the United States. During your coursework, you will take classes in dental materials science, teeth anatomy and physiology, and dental techniques. You will also complete clinical rotations in which you will gain hands-on experience working with patients. Upon completion of an accredited program, you will be eligible to take the National Board Dental Examination (NBDE) Part II, which is required for licensure in most states.

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Step Three: Become Licensed or Registered in Your State

In order to practice dental technology, you will need to become licensed or registered in your state. Each state has different requirements for licensure, but most states require that you pass an exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology (NBCDLT). Once you have passed the NBCDLT exam, you will be eligible to apply for licensure in your state.

Step Four: Consider Certification

Before you can start working as a dental technician, you’ll need to become certified. In order to become certified, you’ll need to pass an exam administered by the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology (NBCDLT). The NBCDLT offers two different exams, the Certified Dental Technician (CDT) exam and the Registered Dental Technician (RDT) exam.

The CDT exam is a three-part exam that covers general dental knowledge, fixed prosthodontics, and removable prosthodontics. The RDT exam is a two-part exam that covers general dental knowledge and removable prosthodontics. You can choose to take either the CDT or the RDT exam, or both.

Once you’ve passed the NBCDLT exam, you’ll be certified as a dental technician. Certification is not required in all states, but it is required in some. Even if certification is not required in your state, becoming certified will give you an advantage when it comes time to find a job.

Step Five: Find a Dental Technician Job

It may take some time and effort to find the perfect dental technician job, but it will be worth it in the end. The best way to find a job is to look online, in newspapers, or even in clinics and boutiques that offer dental services. You can also inquire about open positions with your local dentists’ offices. Once you find a few potential jobs, be sure to brush up on your resume and cover letter-writing skills before you apply.

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