Dental Assistant School Curriculum
The dental assistant curriculum generally includes courses in dental anatomy, radiology, dental materials, chairside assisting, and infection control. Students will also learn about patient care, communication, and dental practice management. Here is a short overview of the curriculum.
The curriculum of a dental assistant program may vary based on the specific school or program, but generally, it includes a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on training. Here are some common topics covered in a dental assistant program:
Dental anatomy and terminology
This course provides an overview of the structure and function of the teeth, mouth, and jaws, as well as common dental terminology.
Infection control and sterilization
This course covers the principles of infection control and sterilization in the dental office, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and disinfection protocols.
This course teaches students how to take and develop dental x-rays, as well as how to properly position patients for imaging.
This course covers the skills needed to assist dentists during procedures, including passing instruments, taking impressions, and providing patient care.
This course provides an overview of common dental materials used in restorative procedures, such as dental composites and amalgam.
This course may cover specialized areas of dentistry, such as oral surgery, orthodontics, and pediatric dentistry.
This course may cover administrative tasks commonly performed by dental assistants, such as scheduling appointments, managing patient records, and billing.
Additionally, many dental assistant programs require students to complete a clinical internship or externship, where they gain hands-on experience working in a dental office under the supervision of a licensed dentist or dental hygienist.
dental anatomy and terminology
The dental anatomy and terminology course is an important part of the curriculum in dental assisting programs. In this course, students learn about the structure and function of the teeth, mouth, and jaws, as well as common dental terminology. Here are some of the topics covered in this course:
- Tooth structure: Students learn about the different parts of a tooth, including the crown, root, enamel, dentin, pulp, and cementum.
- Dental occlusion: This course covers the way the upper and lower teeth come together when the mouth is closed, as well as common occlusal issues and how they are treated.
- Oral cavity: Students learn about the different parts of the oral cavity, including the lips, tongue, cheeks, and palate.
- Periodontal structures: This course covers the structures that support the teeth, including the gums, periodontal ligaments, and alveolar bone.
- Dental terminology: Students learn about the terminology used in dentistry, including the names of teeth, dental procedures, and common dental conditions.
Understanding dental anatomy and terminology is essential for dental assistants, as it allows them to communicate effectively with dentists and other members of the dental team. Additionally, this knowledge helps dental assistants to properly assist during dental procedures, identify potential issues, and provide patients with accurate information about their dental health.
Infection control and sterilization
In this course, students learn about the principles and procedures for preventing the spread of infections in the dental office. Here are some of the topics covered in this course:
Students learn about the different types of infectious agents, how they are transmitted, and how to prevent their spread. They also learn about the principles of standard precautions and how to implement them in the dental office.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
This course covers the use of PPE, such as gloves, masks, and protective eyewear, to protect both dental staff and patients from infectious agents.
Students learn about the different methods of sterilization used in the dental office, including steam autoclaves, chemical sterilization, and dry heat sterilization. They also learn about how to properly package and label sterilized items.
This course covers the principles of disinfection and how to properly clean and disinfect surfaces and equipment in the dental office.
Students learn about the proper disposal of hazardous materials, such as sharps and chemicals, as well as the proper handling and disposal of medical waste.
Understanding infection control and sterilization is essential for dental assistants, as it helps to ensure the safety of both dental staff and patients. By following proper procedures for infection control and sterilization, dental assistants can help to prevent the spread of infectious agents and provide a safe and healthy environment for all who visit the dental office.
The radiography course teaches dental assisting students the skills needed to take and develop dental x-rays. Here are some of the topics covered in this course:
Students learn about the principles of radiation safety, including the potential risks associated with exposure to ionizing radiation and how to minimize those risks.
Dental radiography equipment
This course covers the different types of dental radiography equipment, including intraoral and extraoral x-ray machines, as well as digital radiography systems.
Students learn about the different techniques used to take dental x-rays, including periapical, bitewing, and panoramic radiographs.
This course covers the proper positioning of patients for dental x-rays, as well as techniques for minimizing patient discomfort and anxiety.
Students learn how to develop and process dental x-ray films, as well as how to properly label and store them.
This course covers the basic principles of image interpretation, including identifying common dental conditions and anomalies.
Radiography is an important diagnostic tool in dentistry, and dental assistants play a key role in the imaging process. By understanding the principles and techniques of dental radiography, dental assistants can help to ensure that patients receive accurate and high-quality dental care. Additionally, dental assistants who are trained in radiography may be able to command higher salaries and work in a wider range of dental settings.
The chairside assisting course teaches students the skills needed to provide direct patient care and assist dentists during procedures. Here are some of the topics covered in this course:
- Patient care: Students learn about the principles of patient care, including how to properly prepare patients for dental procedures, how to assist patients with anxiety and discomfort, and how to monitor patients during procedures.
- Instrument passing: This course covers the different types of dental instruments used in restorative and surgical procedures, as well as how to properly pass instruments to dentists.
- Anesthesia and sedation: Students learn about the principles of anesthesia and sedation in dentistry, including local anesthesia and nitrous oxide sedation.
- Dental impressions: This course covers the principles of dental impressions, including how to properly take impressions of teeth and how to pour and trim models.
- Sterilization and infection control: Students learn how to properly clean and sterilize dental instruments, as well as how to follow infection control protocols to minimize the risk of infection transmission.
- Restorative procedures: This course covers the principles of restorative procedures, including fillings, crowns, bridges, and dentures.
By understanding the principles and techniques of chairside assisting, dental assistants can help dentists to provide safe, effective, and efficient dental care. Additionally, dental assistants who are skilled in chairside assisting may be able to command higher salaries and work in a wider range of dental settings.
How is the Dental Assistant Curriculum Evaluated?
Student performance and curriculum in a dental assisting program are examined and evaluated through various methods, including:
Students take written exams to test their knowledge and understanding of the theoretical aspects of dental assisting, such as dental anatomy and terminology, infection control and sterilization, dental materials, and radiography.
Students also take practical exams to test their ability to apply their knowledge in a clinical setting. These exams may include tasks such as taking dental impressions, performing chairside assisting during restorative procedures, and taking and developing dental x-rays.
Students are evaluated on their performance in the clinical setting by their instructors and supervising dentists. Clinical evaluations may include factors such as patient care, instrument passing, and infection control practices.
Instructors provide ongoing feedback to students throughout the program, highlighting areas where students excel and identifying areas where they may need additional support.
Dental assisting programs may conduct evaluations of the curriculum on an ongoing basis to ensure that it is meeting the needs of students and preparing them for a career in dental assisting. These evaluations may involve feedback from students, faculty, and employers.
By examining and evaluating student performance and curriculum in a dental assisting program, instructors and administrators can identify areas where students may need additional support and make necessary adjustments to the curriculum to ensure that students receive a comprehensive education in dental assisting. Additionally, ongoing evaluation and feedback can help to ensure that the curriculum remains up-to-date and meets the needs of the dental industry.