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Oral Health Care: A Whole New Language

Course Number: 21

Dental Laboratory Technology/Dental Laboratory Technician

Dental laboratory technology is the art, science and technology of designing and manufacturing corrective devices for and replacements of natural teeth. The dental laboratory technician (DLT) works under the direction of a licensed dentist. The DLT uses impressions (molds) of the patient's teeth or oral soft tissues and detailed written instructions to create:

  • Full dentures for patients who are missing all of their teeth

  • Removable partial dentures or fixed bridges for patients missing only one or a few teeth

  • Crowns, which are caps for teeth that are designed to restore their original size and shape

  • Veneers, that enhance the esthetics and function for the patient

  • Orthodontic appliances and splints to help straighten and protect teeth1

The dental laboratory technician is not licensed, but may become certified through the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology. A dental technician who passes the certification examination becomes a Certified Dental Technician (CDT). CDTs specialize in one or more of the five areas listed above. DLTs receive training in a two-year program at a community college, vocational school, technical college, university or dental school. Graduates of these programs receive either an associate degree or a certificate. There are also a few programs that offer a four-year baccalaureate program in dental technology. To find out more, visit the ADA Dental Careers page.