Dental Assistant 2A: Infection Prevention & Pharmacology

Dental Assistant
Career Pathway Course Units

Unit 1: Medical Emergencies in the Dental Office

A medical emergency can occur at any moment in a dental office. Dental professionals must be trained to understand the signs of a dental emergency and know what actions are indicated. The quick response of dental team members can alter the outcome of a potentially life-threatening event. Proper training, along with relevant updates as necessary, should occur regularly within an office to ensure all team members understand their assigned roles during an emergency situation.

Unit 2: Microbiology

Understanding microbiology is the foundation of infection control. Part of microbiology is learning about various pathogens and the way they affect the body. When a dental assistant understands how diseases are transmitted, they can properly protect patients against cross-contamination.

Unit 3: Disease Transmission & Infection Control

Pathogens are all around us and can enter a host at any time. A dental assistant must know how diseases are spread so they can work to prevent cross-contamination. Gloves, masks, and protective clothing are an essential part of protecting employees. Federal, state, and local guidelines must be followed for every procedure, including waste disposal, in order to ensure everyone’s safety.

Unit 4: Disinfecting Procedures & Instrument Sterilization

One of the most important roles of a dental assistant is properly following disinfecting and sterilization procedures. Learning the difference between disinfection and sterilization is the first step to taking on that role. Knowing how to load a sterilizer and monitor it for successful sterilization are necessary parts of preventing disease transmission.

Unit 5: Managing Hazardous Chemicals & Waste

Dentistry has many governing agencies that work together to protect dental professionals. Hazardous chemicals and waste can put employees in danger if they are not properly used, stored, or disposed of. Understanding the standards and regulations that apply to dentistry is an essential part of being a dental assistant.

Unit 6: Principles of Pharmacology

Pharmacology is an important part of dental treatment. In the dental office, a variety of drugs can be used to treat different patient conditions and help address treatment-related anxiety. A dental assistant must be responsible for and have a general understanding of pharmacology to be an effective team member.

Unit 7: Understanding Pain Management Protocols

Dentistry today offers a patient more options for managing pain and anxiety than ever before. This facet of dentistry is continually evolving, and new technology becomes available every year for managing anxiety and pain. The dental assistant plays an important role in preparing anesthetics and monitoring the patient during treatment. As a result, dental assistants must be willing to keep up to date on changes in pain management to help provide a high level of care to their patients.

Unit 8: Drug Addiction

As long as there have been drugs, there have been those who misuse or overuse them. The history of drug abuse and addiction can be traced back for centuries. However, as common as drug addiction has been throughout time, America is currently in the midst of a significant opioid epidemic that has impacted millions of families and taken thousands of lives. Knowing about both the past and current state of the crisis is essential in dentistry, as patients are often prescribed opioids to manage their pain after dental procedures, and unfortunately, any initial exposure to opioids can lead to dangerous patterns of addiction. When dental assistants know the signs and symptoms of misuse, abuse, and addiction, they are better equipped to educate their patients and help keep them safe from developing unhealthy relationships with opioids and other drugs.