June is Dental Technician and CDT Appreciation Month as celebrated by The National Association of Dental Laboratories (NADL) and The National Board of Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology (NBC). In honor of our CDTs we are sharing our Certification Journey.
Originally, there were two ways to become a Certified Dental Technician. One way was to graduate from an accredited school that offered the two year Dental Laboratory Certification program. The other was to work in a laboratory a minimum of five years and then take the certification exam(s). Due to recent changes at the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory Technology (NBC), a technician can now apply accrued Continuing Education (CE) credits and not wait the full five years to take the exams. There are six certification specialties: Ceramics, Crown and Bridge, Dentures, Partials, Orthodontics and, recently added, Implants. Whichever path the hopeful technician takes, the exam itself is a test of knowledge, skill, and adaptability.
After working at the lab for the requisite five years, four of us decided to become certified, two in Ceramics and two in Crown and Bridge. After studying for months, the first step was to take the written exam. The closest place this exam was offered was a laboratory five hours away. It was a huge facility that had long rows of desks where technicians worked side by side. The test was timed and the hours flew by. When we were done, we got in the car for the long drive back.
After weeks of waiting, we learned that we had all passed! The next step was the practical test, this time at a large laboratory just three hours away. For the practical you must bring all of your own equipment, so we packed up our handpieces, ovens, and case pans and headed out. I was taking the exam with a fellow ceramist so we had to coordinate the use of the ovens between us, which included opaquing, porcelain shoulders, building, contouring, and staining a central and a 3 unit bridge. The technicians certifying in Crown and Bridge brought waxers, hand pieces, soldering, and finishing materials for copings, full crowns, and a 3 unit bridge. Just as before, the time flew and when the time was up, we had to put our instruments down and hope for the best.
Again, we all passed! Since then, three more of our techs have taken the opportunity to become certified and I went for a second certification in Crown and Bridge. Currently, we have five CDTs and eleven Dental Technicians, whose combined experience is over 300 years!
To retain our certifications, we must earn 12 hours of CE credits each year, including an hour of Infection Control. With all the digital dentistry, I imagine courses in digital security will be an added requirement soon. We believe it is important to keep up with all the changes in dentistry and Continuing Education is the key to achieving that goal.
Kim Ravdin, President