Dental laboratory technology programs can be found at various community and technical colleges throughout the U.S. These programs involve a significant amount of hands-on learning in a laboratory setting in which students gain experience in the craft of creating natural-looking dental restorations. Coursework can be taken as part of an Associate of Applied Science degree or a certificate.
Common concepts studied in these types of programs include:
- Denture creation and repair
- Dental implants
- Laboratory techniques
- Dental laboratory management
- Dental laboratory technology
Some schools also offer specialized certificates in areas like dental ceramics or crowns and bridges. The Commission on Dental Accreditation accredits some programs. A clinical experience could be included in some programs to provide a hands-on learning experience for students.
List of Common Courses
Dental Anatomy Course
Dental anatomy courses study the anatomy of the head, neck and oral cavity. Students study how the muscle, bone and teeth move together. Additional topics include the proper alignment of teeth (occlusion), tooth contour and tooth anatomy. Because this course provides students with the anatomical structures needed for artificial tooth creation, it is offered in the beginning of the program.
Dental Materials Course
In a dental materials course, students learn about the chemical makeup and advances in materials used in dental practices. This course examines why and how waxes, resins, gypsum products, acrylics and metals are used in dentistry. Students also explore the proper health and safety measures needed to work with dentistry materials. This introductory course typically combines both lecture and lab hours.
Denture Techniques Course
Students in this course discuss the techniques, procedures and materials used in the creation of dentures. They are provided with hands-on training in the creation of dental prostheses, including full and partial dentures. Students learn the proper procedures for creating base plates, mounting prosthetics, curing ceramic teeth, grinding and polishing. They also discuss the proper steps for fabricating emergency dentures. Practical application creating dentures in labs is conducted.
Orthodontics and Pedodontics Course
Orthodontics and pedodontics examines the methods and materials used to create orthodontic appliances such as braces and retainers. Students study the casts of the teeth in order to design a wire framework for the patient. They train in labs fabricating, soldering and manipulating orthodontic appliances.
Crowns and Bridges Course
This course examines the design and production of crowns and bridges including procedural steps, components and materials. Students work hands-on pouring impressions, waxing units and trimming. They also delve into advanced tooth function and form needed for creating temporary crowns and non-parallel bridges. A prerequisite course in dental techniques must be completed prior to entering this course.
Dental Ceramics Course
Throughout this course, students learn the processes for preparing, constructing and casting ceramic restorations. Training is provided in the creation of the metal substructures and porcelain build-up techniques. Students pay special attention to color theory and shading for replicating a patient's current tooth color.