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Dental Assistant 1A: Introduction

Dental Assistant
Career Pathway Course Units

Unit 1: Introduction to Dentistry

Oral health problems have been around as long as humans have been in existence. How they were treated, of course, is very different today. In the past, dentistry was used to treat a patient who was already experiencing pain. A dentist could not restore teeth like they do now and often left patients with only the uncomfortable option of an extraction. However, with all the contributions made over the last several hundred years, dentistry now has more options than ever before to help people take care of one of their best assets—their smile!

Unit 2: The Dental Team & Professional Organizations

The world of dentistry expands far beyond the role of the dentist. There are many members of a team that make an individual office run smoothly. And each position has its own set of educational requirements and professional organizations to support their career. Dentistry is a challenging and exciting opportunity that can offer tremendous job satisfaction, but it also requires dedication, personal responsibility, and commitment to continuing your education. It’s time to learn more about the various team members who play essential roles in the day to day operations of a dental practice. More importantly, we’ll dive deeper into examining the job of a dental assistant. By the time you’re done here, you’ll have a greater appreciation for just what this career entails and how very vital it is to the success of the dental practice as a whole.

Unit 3: Investigating Dental Ethics & Law

What should I do? What am I required to do? What’s in the patient’s best interests? Being a dental professional means that patient care is one of your top priorities and therefore, these three questions should always be at the forefront of your mind. Sometimes it is a simple matter of complying with legal standards that must be followed. Other times, however, it’s a more complicated ethical matter of deciding what is the morally right course of action. Whether you are talking about ethics or laws, both are important aspects of dentistry and a solid understanding of them is essential to success in the field. Let’s learn more about how these two important concepts guide and shape the day-to-day work of the dental assistant.

Unit 4: Basic Health & Anatomy

Every patient has their own unique medical and dental history. The dental assistant plays a key role in collecting all the necessary information about the patient’s basic health. This assessment is vital to helping the dentist provide the highest level of care. However, for the dental assistant to perform this piece of their job in the most efficient and accurate manner, they must have an understanding of basic anatomy that will assist them with taking vital signs. This link between patient and dentist is just one of many essential responsibilities that rest in the hands of the dental assistant.

Unit 5: Anatomy of the Head & Neck

A solid understanding of the anatomy of the head and neck is one of the first building blocks to working as a successful clinical dental assistant. Knowing the names and locations of muscles, bones, and nerves will help you be aware of any abnormalities a patient may have when assisting with a dental examination. In fact, did you know these abnormalities can affect a patient’s eating, drinking, or ability to communicate, and your ability to recognize them may impact your treatment plan and protocols for patient management? Ultimately, knowledge of this anatomy will also allow you to better advise your patients as how to best maintain their oral health and keep their smile shining bright!

Unit 6: Basic Dental Anatomy I

As a dental assistant, an understanding of basic dental anatomy is one of the primary building blocks upon which your career is built. Without this knowledge, you cannot understand what contributes to developmental disturbances and diseases of the mouth and teeth. Learning about embryology will help you understand how teeth develop, while the study of histology will teach you how diseases occur and progress in the mouth. When you fully understand tooth names, locations, and eruption patterns, you will be better able to accurately chart treatment for your patients. A solid foundation in dental anatomy will set you up to be a strong and sought-after member of the dental health professional team.

Unit 7: Basic Dental Anatomy II

Did you know that every tooth in your mouth is assigned a number based on its location? Have you ever examined the teeth in your mouth close enough to discover that each tooth looks different from the others? Understanding each tooth’s placement, as well as its typical appearance is necessary in order to effectively communicate with team members and identify abnormalities in a dentition and other oral pathology. And, with experience and close attention to detail, you may become quite adept at identifying conditions that warrant further investigation and, in doing so, provide better care and outcomes for your patients.