Courses for dental assistants may be offered on their own or as part of an academic program that leads to a certificate or diploma in dental assisting. Dental assisting associate's degree programs are also available, but are lesson common. Some states require dental assistants to be certified; to gain certification, individuals must pass the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA®) exam administered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
Below is a list of common concepts that students in dental assistant courses can expect to encounter:
- Patient vital signs
- Patient education
- Pediatric dentistry
- Oral surgery
- Instrument sterilization
List of Typical Courses
Fundamentals of Dental Assisting Course
Students review various aspects of the dental assisting profession, including preventive dentistry techniques, oral health and nutrition. Individuals learn to prepare patients for dental care, set up dental charts for review and provide chairside assistance to the dentist. This course surveys dental terminology, as well as discusses dental diseases and pathology.
Oral Anatomy Course
This course provides a review of the anatomy of the human head and its oral cavity, including the teeth, gums, tongue, muscles and nerves. Individuals learn about the soft and hard tissues of the face and the structure of the head and neck. Also discussed are the development of teeth and the pattern in which they grow. This course explores the specific drugs used in dentistry and their effects on patients.
Dental Materials and Infection Control Course
Individuals gain an understanding of the various materials used in dentistry. They learn about the physical and chemical properties of dental materials. A review of infection control regulations governing health and safety in dental practices is discussed. Students also are taught how to make tooth impressions and to prepare casts.
Dental Radiology Course
In this course, people focus on the techniques and procedures involved in dental radiology. Students learn how to operate radiographic equipment and how to safely protect patients and operators from exposure. The mounting, processing and evaluation of digital X-rays is also taught.
Nutrition and Oral Hygiene Course
Individuals gain an understanding of how nutrition plays a factor in oral hygiene. This course discusses the value of a proper diet and the use of vitamins to achieve nutritional balances. Students learn how an inadequate or improper diet can result in oral problems, including cavities and periodontal disease. Participants learn to counsel patients about the importance of good eating habits and proper oral hygiene.
Dental Office Procedures Course
This course provides the background needed to work in a dental office. Students discuss office procedures, including telephone etiquette, appointment scheduling and file management. Other topics explored include basic bookkeeping, dental insurance plans, inventory control and payroll. Special office management computer software is reviewed.
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