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Dental Assistant 1B: Principles of Clinical Dentistry

Dental Assistant
Career Pathway Course Units

Unit 1: Dental Caries & Nutrition

One of the leading health concerns worldwide is the infectious disease known as dental caries. You are probably familiar with the name it’s more commonly known as: dental cavities. Though it can affect people of all ages, tooth decay is more typically found in children; it is the most common preventable infectious disease found around the globe. One excellent defense to fighting this disease is regular tooth brushing, but did you know that nutrition also plays a vital role in caries prevention? Eating a well-balanced diet is an essential part of maintaining your oral health and helping you avoid the need for restorative work in the future. Let’s learn more about dental caries and the role diet plays in your dental health.

Unit 2: Preventive Dentistry

Many years ago, dentistry simply focused on fixing the problem when a patient came into the office in pain, as opposed to warding off future troubles. Today we focus on educating patients so that we can prevent disease and pain from developing in the first place. This holistic approach includes regular check-ups and fostering good home care habits such as brushing and flossing. Creating and supporting these habits will lead to good oral hygiene and an overall improvement in patients’ health and wellbeing. As dental assistants often take a frontline role in patient education, let’s learn more about the foundations of preventive dentistry care.

Unit 3: Treatment Planning & Charting a Diagnosis

While dental assistants have many responsibilities in terms of working directly with patients, there are also quite a few behind-the-scenes pieces to keep situated. Once a patient chart is started, there are a number of things that need to be updated and kept accurate. Not only must information be entered, but it must be done in an appropriate manner that will allow others in the office to quickly evaluate what they need to know about any given patient. Learning the appropriate way to maintain charts is one of a dental assistant’s main responsibilities and key to delivering the highest standard of care and best possible treatment options.

Unit 4: Administrative Responsibilities

Although the business assistant doesn’t work directly with the patient in the operatory, they have just as many responsibilities as the clinical assistant. Depending on the size of the office, these responsibilities may be divided amongst several people, or there may be one individual who’s in charge of it all. Though additional work obligations may vary from practice to practice, in general the business assistant is responsible for greeting patients, talking on the telephone, scheduling appointments, processing insurance claims, and managing inventory. It’s an important role in any dental practice and is often one that is crucial to the overall success of the group.

Unit 5: Dental Equipment & Maintenance

There are many pieces of equipment in any medical facility, and the dental office is no exception to that rule. Dental equipment is an important part of the dental office. This equipment is expensive machinery and encompasses a wide variety of functions. It can be delicate and must be properly taken care of to prolong its lifespan. Each piece must be maintained according to the laws in place as well as the manufacturer’s instructions. Though it is primarily the clinical dental assistant that may be responsible for the routine care of equipment, learning more about the maintenance and upkeep of these important tools and machines is valuable information for all dental assistants.

Unit 6: Basic Chairside Procedures

Although the specifics of a tray set up or a procedure may vary from office to office, there are some helpful basic guidelines to keep in mind. Once a dental assistant settles into a position in a dental practice, they can then expand on these basic skills. Some of the standard procedures include preparing a treatment room, basic tray set up, taking vital signs, and using the suction tip during procedures. Being able to independently complete these tasks is a strong foundation for a clinical dental assistant.

Unit 7: General Dentistry I

General dentistry is a dynamic field that is always changing to match the evolution of technology as it becomes available. While general dentistry does not have a specialty, it focuses on all major aspects of oral health and can include amalgam restorations, intermediate restorations, crowns, bridges, and dentures. Another name for the work done by a general dentist is restorative dentistry. As the dental assistant must have background knowledge in restorative procedures to practice four-handed dentistry and appropriately assist the dentist, they must also be prepared to grow and learn in this field as well.