Last updated on November 29th, 2023.
When you have a busy life, it may be hard to find the time to travel to weekly classes. Thankfully there are many options to take online courses to help your career in becoming a dental tech. This will also open up many more opportunities to try out schools that may not be in your area or state.
Dental Techs require a certain level of training which needs to be done in person while some can be completed online. There are different courses that can be taken to go towards a dental tech to get a better understanding of the job. All of these courses can be taken in person or online.
The Five Best Dental Tech Courses Online:
- Fundamentals of Intraoral Scanning
- Bunker Hill Community College – Dental Technician Program
- Simplifying Posterior and Anterior Dental Anatomy
- The Foundation For Dental Lab Technology
- The Science of Natural Smile
In this article, you will learn all the basics about dental tech and what it means to be one. You will also find out the top five online courses you can take to become a dental tech and just how long it may take you to complete each of your certificates. Read on to take the first step in your future as a dental tech.
What Is A Dental Tech?
A dental tech is someone who will follow a dentist’s prescription on what is needed to be made. This means everything from construction, fitting, and repairing medical devices for the mouth. They work along with the dentist to get accurate x-rays to know the precise sizes to make the corrective devices.
Check out the benefits of a dental technician career in that article!
Dental techs can also do replace facial and body tissues when needed due to an injury or disease. There will be many small details that will need to be done in order to make the perfect set of braces or even a mouthguard. Dental techs need to be very precise because if one part is sized wrong it can mean a mouth guard might not protect like it should or dentures can be very painful.
A dental tech will have many jobs that will need to know such as how to:
- Complete forms and logs
- Conserve supplies
- Create fillings, veneers, and bridges
- Document and prepare reports
- Electro spot weld
- Form and shape different materials to create very precise models from only a dental impression in some cases
- Get impressions
- Maintain dental lab records
- Make dental implants
- Use computer programs and three-dimensional printers to make devices
A dental tech has a very important job and will make the lives of patients much better. From allowing a patient to be able to eat with dentures or a teenager who needs braces. It is an important job that will require a lot of attention to detail.
How Much Do Dental Techs Make?
A dental tech’s salary will differ greatly depending on experience and the area you are in. The average salary for a dental tech in the US is around $50,000 a year. Depending on the state the average salary could be much lower. Alabama is one of the lowest states coming in around $30,000 but it can be as low as $20,000 a year.
Some places such as Kanas have an average of $46,000 with their top paying dental techs making over $100,000 a year. That is quite the difference so it is important to look into the average salaries in your area or with a certain company you may want to work for.
Dental techs also typically have a really simple schedule, your typical 9-5 and off on weekends in many areas. This can be the perfect fit for many aspiring dental techs.
What Are The Requirements To Become A Dental Tech?
Depending on where you will want to work you may need anywhere from a two year degree to a four year degree. It is based on what is needed from you at the job you will apply for. Some places only need an associate while many places do not prefer a bachelor’s degree.
You will also need to be able to work with a lot of precision with your hands. Many people will not have the gentle touch that is required to work with the very small parts without messing up any details. You also must be able to work on your own as there is typically only one on shift at many locations.
You will also need to be able to pay very close attention to detail as mentioned above there are many complications that could come up if you were to be off in your measurements. These will waste time and money while causing patients discomfort. You could even make the dentist lose that patient.
You will also need to pass the exam given by the National Board of Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology. You will need to have completed all the required courses or two year program. If you opt out of taking any course and find a job that will allow you to learn on the job you will need five years of on the job training before being able to take the exam.
What Does A Dental Technologist Do?
A dental tech will handle a wide range of tasks such as creating:
- Ceramic restoration
- Fixed bridges
- Fixed crowns
- Full dentures
- Removable partial dentures
They have more responsibility than a dental assistant. Their job is more technical compared to assisting the dentist.
You will be responsible for creating different types of dental work while working with a variety of materials such as:
- Non-Precious alloys
- Precious alloys
You will need to be comfortable working with these materials. Another very important part of being a dental tech is good hand eye coordination and the ability to work on very small pieces of equipment is a requirement as you will not want to accidentally ruin your work. As a dental technician/technologist you will not only learn how to make the items mentioned above but so much more. In the roughly four years it will take to get your degree at some schools you will learn all of the terminology and dental anatomy.
There is so much that goes into becoming a technologist that some online schools even offer shorter one-year courses that are specialized courses where you may only learn about creating dentures. Some courses are even free online. You can use these as refresher courses or to start off seeing if becoming a dental tech is the right choice for you.
The Five Best Dental Tech Courses Online
There are many courses and paths you can take to getting a degree online to become a dental tech. While for the most part, you will need to attend an in-person course there are some that can be taken online. These can sometimes be free and are typically on your own time which makes them perfect for those with busy lives or ones with young kids. It can be hard to take courses in-person for many people.
1. Fundamentals of Intraoral Scanning
A great starter course that you can take is learning about the fundamentals of intraoral scanning. There are many things you will learn in this course. You will not only learn the basics of how to do a scan, but you will also learn things such as learning:
- Different techniques for edentulous scanning
- The benefits of scanning and tricks on how to do it well
- The correct way to take an accurate full arch scan and all other types of scans
- Tips to make sure you get the most accurate results from scans
This is a free course that will give you all the tools needed to take accurate scans, so you will get it right the first time compared to repeating scans on patients. You will also see real life cases to help to learn better ways to always get results efficiently. This will save time and money while keeping your patient happy and comfortable.
You will start off the course by answering a few questions to see where you are roughly starting out in the dental world. There will be eight lesson sections before you take the quiz. Once you complete the quiz and pass you will then earn your certification.
2. Bunker Hill Community College- Dental Technician Program-
This hybrid dental technician program is fully online but a little different than most online courses. You will learn all the basics of pre-clinical dental assisting which will include topics such as:
- History of dental assisting
- History of dentistry
- Introduction to the dental office
- The legal aspects of dentistry
Your tuition will include the e-book required for the course and plenty of support. They even offer externships at different locations if you were to request one. You will then receive a test voucher from The National Workforce Career Association which allows you to test for free.
This course is technically a self-study at your own pace type of course but it has a little twist. There will be an instructor that teaches the class once there are over six students enrolled in the course. There will then be Zoom meetings twice a week in the evenings. You do not need to attend the Zoom meetings but for many, they can be very helpful. You can also just join one or two as needed.
3. Simplifying Posterior and Anterior Dental Anatomy
This course is used by many different labs worldwide to get everyone on the same page with this software. It is easy to use and takes an amount of five hours to complete and is a self-paced study program. You will learn simplified typical anatomy instead of needing to memorize a hundred details about teeth.
First, you will learn the differences and similarities of all teeth. These are two courses that go together and will help you learn the posterior and anterior of the teeth. They are both well under $100 and will take anywhere from three to five hours to complete. To get 350 pages of illustrated material per course it will cost over $100 per course.
There are also many extra resources you can buy on the site to help you along your way and to have in general as you are working as a refresher when needed.
After you complete the course, you will be able to buy a certificate of completion for your records for $20.00. This course is much higher priced than the others who are inexpensive and sometimes free, but it is a really good course to take to give you a step up when starting your job.
4. The Foundation For Dental Lab Technology
In order to provide the best services for your patients know exactly what bone is which during an x-ray is very important. In this course, you will learn the central anatomy during a video that ends with a question-and-answer portion. Some experienced technicians take this course as a simple refresher. It never hurts to learn even more.
This course is not only online but for free for members and $20 for non-members. This course will also give you .5 hours through the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology. The course is pretty straightforward and is a great way to learn in the comfort of your home and is very inexpensive.
5. The Science of a Natural Smile
This course will teach the ten esthetics needed to create all of your future restorations. These courses were made to help dental techs with easy to use videos and text. This course is a standard in many labs around the world to help dentists and dental technicians talk about their cases effectively.
Mistakes can happen very easily and the software in this course greatly reduces any misunderstandings that could lead to mistakes. This is course is under $100 but when you add on the needed books it’s around $200 for the course and recommended books.
Taking Dental Tech Courses Online
There are many courses that can either be taken as refresher courses or to help you gain knowledge as you start the journey of your career. While there are some courses that may cost a decent amount of money there are many free courses that you can find to add to your list of completed certifications.