Hands-on training for dental workers is available through apprenticeship and residency programs.
Dental Apprenticeship Programs
Prospective dental assistants, dental lab technicians and dental equipment specialists may learn their trades through an apprenticeship program. These programs give students the opportunity to gain hands-on training in the field before launching their careers.
Where to Find Dental Apprenticeships
Students can look for programs approved by the Office of Apprenticeship, a branch of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). This ensures that an apprentice receives quality training that meets the criteria of the DOL Registered Apprentice program. Such programs may be offered by:
- Denist's offices
- Labor management organizations
- Health associations
- The American Red Cross
- Some divisions of the military
In general, applicants only need to be 18 years of age to qualify for admission, though additional requirements may apply depending on the school or organization. For example, the Red Cross may require at least 75 hours of volunteer experience in order to qualify, while other organizations expect applicants to have prior education in the field.
In dental apprenticeship programs, apprentices shadow dental workers and assist them with their tasks. Some of their tasks can include:
- Updating dental charts
- Taking and processing x-rays
- Cleaning and stocking dental exam areas
- Cleaning an sterilizing dental instruments
- Ordering supplies
- Scheduling patient appointments
Dental Residency Information
Dental residencies are designed for prospective dentists who have completed dental school. Although a dentist is not required to fulfill residency requirements as a doctor does, dental residencies give an aspiring dentist the opportunity to learn the intricacies of the profession while earning a paycheck at the same time.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry administers a 2-year pediatric dentistry residency program that emphasizes clinical study and research. The program is available in 37 U.S. states, as well as in Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. Residents learn about surgical procedures and advanced diagnostics in a clinical setting. They typically study:
- Child psychology
- Facial trauma
- General anesthesia
- Oral pathology
The Veterans Administration (VA) also has a dentistry residency program that gives a dentist several options when considering a residency. The VA offers residencies in endodontics, periodontics and prosthodontics, along with general practice residencies lasting from 1-2 years. Advanced education in general dentistry is also available. Hospitals with dental residency programs include:
- Rochester General in New York
- York Hospital in Pennsylvania
- Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx
Lower-level dental workers can hone their skills in patient care and office administration through dental apprenticeship programs. Residency programs enable dentists to specialize their practice.