Dental Assistant Skills Health Science
Dental Assistants • Work under the supervision of dentists • Certification is available through the Dental Assisting National Board
Salary : $19,928-$31,744 • Hourly: $9.58- $15.26 • Outlook: Very Good! • Length of training: up to a year
Dental Assistants help dentist examine and treat patients. Their duties include preparing the patient for treatment, passing instruments during treatment procedures, processing dental x-rays, sterilizing and disinfecting instruments, taking impressions, making casts of teeth, maintaining patient charts, making temporary crowns and impressions, polishing patients teeth and helping to manage the office. They also assist with tasks such as scheduling appointments, treatment planning and ordering supplies. Orthodontic Assistants help dentists by placing brackets and tying wires on braces.
Areas of Specialization • Special training is required for Dental Assistants to take and process x-rays and to monitor nitrous oxide during procedures.
Work Environment • Most Dental Assistants work in private or group dental practices. Others work in specialty practices, clinics, hospitals, public health departments, or dental schools. They may also work alongside Dental Hygienists or Dental Lab Technicians. Most Dental Assistants work 32 to 40 hours a week.
Licensure and Certification • May take the national exam to become a Certified Dental Assistant (CDA), Certified Orthodontic Assistant (COA) or a Certified Dental Practice Management Assistant (CDPMA). Dental Assistants administering nitrous oxide must take a short course and pass a test administered by the supervising dentist. All Dental Assistants taking radiographs must be certified with the State Board of Dental Examiners (SBDE).
Dental Hygienist • Dental Hygienists are trained to evaluate a patient’s dental health. Their duties include taking x-rays, cleaning teeth, and applying fluorides and sealants to teeth. They may also apply temporary fillings at the request of the dentist. Dental Hygienists are responsible for providing dental health education on topics such as oral hygiene, toothbrush selection, the use of dental floss, and how diseases such as diabetes affect a patient’s oral health. • Work Environment: • Dental Hygienists are trained to evaluate a patient’s dental health. Their duties include taking x-rays, cleaning teeth, and applying fluorides and sealants to teeth. They may also apply temporary fillings at the request of the dentist. Dental Hygienists are responsible for providing dental health education on topics such as oral hygiene, toothbrush selection, the use of dental floss, and how diseases such as diabetes affect a patient’s oral health.
Stats • Salary : $44,258- $72, 508 • Hourly $21.08- $35.05 • Length of training: • A two-year associate degree is required for most private practice offices. Most programs have specific prerequisite college-level courses. A bachelor’s or master’s degree is required for teaching, research and administration of dental hygiene education programs
License and certification • Dental Hygienists must be licensed to practice in Texas by the State Board of Dental Examiners. They must show proof of graduation from an accredited dental hygiene program, and pass the National Board and Western Regional Examining Board exams. Continuing education hours and CPR renewal are required every year for license renewal.
Dental Lab Tech • Salary: $20,203 - $35,627 • Hourly: $9.71 - $17.13 • Hourly: $9.71 - $17.13 • Dental Technology is the art and science of making and repairing dental appliances such as veneers, dentures, dental crowns, bridges, implants, and braces. Dental Laboratory Technicians are similar to pharmacists in that they fill prescriptions from a dentist. Technicians use materials such as gold, silver, stainless steel, porcelain, and plastic to make an appliance as specified by the dentist’s prescription.
Areas of Specialization • Dental Laboratory Technicians who are certified may specialize in one or more of the following areas: ceramics, orthodontics, complete dentures, crowns and bridges, or partial dentures.
Work Environment • Dental Laboratory Technicians may work in dental education, training or research in commercial laboratories, dental offices, dental supply companies, hospitals and dental schools. Many technicians are self employed and work for several dentists. The typical lab has 5-10 technicians.
Length of Training • Dental Laboratory Technicians attend two-year accredited programs at community or junior colleges, technical institutions or dental schools. The programs usually lead to an associate’s degree. Many technicians learn the profession on-the-job, which takes an average of 3 to 4 years. Applicants considering this career should be detail oriented, and able using their hands with precision and work independently.
Licensure and Certification • A license is not required, but optional certification is available. Dental Laboratory Technicians can be certified after graduation from an accredited program, passing the exam given by the National Board for Certification in Dental Laboratory, and completing two years of professional job experience. Those who have completed a non-accredited program or learned their skills on the job may take the exam after 5 years of professional work experience and passing a basic knowledge test.
Dentist • Salary: $75,027 - $186,923 • Hourly: $36.07 - $89.87 • Length of Training: 6-8 years • Dentists diagnose and treat diseases, injuries, and malformations of the teeth, gums and mouth. They examine patient’s mouths for cavities, sores, swelling or other signs of disease. They can enhance their patient’s appearance through dental techniques such as braces, dentures, or dental surgery. Dentists have also evolved to provide cosmetic care, including teeth whitening.Most dentists are general practitioners and are usually self-employed. They supervise the work of the dental health care team and have final responsibility for all dental services being provided.
Areas of Specialization • After completing dental school in general dentistry, graduates may enter practice or go on for advanced training in the following specialty areas: Dental Public Health – preventing and controlling dental diseaseEndodontics – root canal and related therapyOral pathology – investigating the cause, process and effect of dental diseaseOral radiology – imaging to diagnose or treat related diseases.Oral surgery – surgery of the mouth and jawsOrthodontics – correction of teeth placement and facial structuresPediatric Dentistry – treating children and adolescentsPeriodontics – gum and supporting structure treatmentProstodontics – treatment with artificial teeth and dentures
Work Environment • The majority of dentists work in private practice or with a dental group. Their offices include a team of dental health care workers, such as a dental hygienist, dental assistant or dental laboratory technician. Dentists may also work in hospitals, public clinics, teaching institutions, or research facilities.
Length of Training • Admission to dental school is competitive and requires a minimum of 90 college hours of credit from an accredited college. The majority of applicants have received a bachelor’s degree. Graduation from an accredited dental school usually takes about four years. Specialization requires an additional two or more years. A dentist has earned a degree as either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM).
Licensure and Certification • Dentists in the State of Texas must hold a degree from a dental school accredited by the American Dental Association and must pass exams given by the National Dental Board and The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners and a clinical examination or specialty examination if appropriate.
The Structures of Tissue and Teeth • Odontology is the study of anatomy, growth, and diseases of the teeth. • Teeth are accessory organs of the digestive tract that aid in the mastication,or chewing, of food. • Individuals have two dentitions, or sets, of teeth.
The two sets are: • A primary, or deciduous, dentition • A permanent, or succedaneous, dentition • At birth, a newborn has approximately 44 teeth buds at various stages of development.
When a child is approximately 6 months old, these teeth buds begin to erupt into the mouth and form the primary dentition. • When the child is approximately 2 years old, all twenty primary teeth will have erupted.
Between the ages of 6 and 12 years, all of the primary teeth are lost and replaced by the permanent dentition. • Teeth continue erupting and replacing primary teeth until individual reaches approximately 17 to 20 years of age, when the third molars, or wisdom teeth erupt.
If a child 5 to 10 years old has both primary and permanent teeth erupted in the mouth, this is known as mixed dentition. • Most of the 32 teeth in the permanent dentition are in place by 12 years of age.
Tooth Structure • The section of the tooth that is visible in the mouth is the crown. • This crown is protected on the outside by a tissue called enamel. It is the hardest tissue in the body. Made up of calcium and phosphorous. Cannot repair itself. • The section of the tooth below the gingiva, or gums is the root.
The root is covered on the outside by tissue called cementum. • The root helps anchor the tooth in the bony socket of the jaw. • A tooth may have a single root or multiple roots. • Two roots = birfurcated • Three roots = trifurcated
The neck of the tooth is the cervix. • It is where the enamel covering the crown meets the cementum covering the root. It is the narrow section where the crown joins with the root.
The tip of the root is called the apex. • The tissue that makes up the main bulk of the tooth is called dentin. • It is a bonelike substance that is softer than enamel but harder than the cementum. Although it has no nerves, it carries sensations of pain and temperature to the pulp.
The soft tissue located in the innermost area of the tooth is the pulp. • The pulp is made up of blood vessels and nerves held in place by connective tissue. • The pulp provides sensation and nourishment for the tooth and helps produce dentin.
The periodontium – the structures that surround and support the teeth. Includes the alveolar process, the periodontal ligament, and the gingiva.
Alveolar process • Or ‘ridge’. This is the bone tissue of the maxilla and mandible that surrounds the roots of the teeth. • It contains a series of sockets, or ‘alveoli’ – one for each tooth. • Although the tooth sits in the alveolus and is supported by it, the tooth does not touch the bone.
Periodontal ligament • Consists of dense fibers of connective tissue that attach to the cementum of the tooth and to the alveolus. • It supports or suspends the tooth in the socket. • Acts as a shock absorber and prevents the tooth from resting on or rubbing against the bone during chewing.
This ligament also produces sensation when pressure is applied to the tooth.
Gingiva • Gums; made up of epithelial tissue covered with mucous membrane. • Surrounds the cervix of the tooth and fills the spaces between the teeth.
Dental care is directed toward preventing and treating dental disease and preserving and prolonging the life of the teeth.
Identifying the Teeth • There are four main types of teeth. • Incisors are located in the front and center of the mouth. They have a broad, sharp edge and are used to cut or bite food. • Central incisors – in the center. • Lateral incisors – on the sides of the centrals
Cuspids – also called canines, or eyeteeth. • Located at the angles of the lips • Used to tear food • Longest teeth in the mouth
Bicuspids – also called premolars. • Located before the molars, from front to back • Used to pulverize or grind food
Molars – teeth in the back of the mouth; are the largest and strongest teeth; used to chew and grind food.
Primary, or deciduous, teeth • “Baby” teeth. • Serve the important function of maintaining correct spacing for permanent teeth. There are 20: ten maxillary and ten mandibular: on each: • Two central incisors; two lateral incisors; two cuspids; two 1st molars; two 2nd molars. No bicuspids.
To name the primary teeth, the mouth is divided into quadrants or four sections: • Maxillary right, maxillary left • Mandibular right, mandibular left • The transverse plane separates the mouth into the upper and lower, then each tooth is labeled as either maxillary or mandibular. • A midsagittal plane divides the mouth into right and left halves.
Each primary tooth has a specific name. For example, the central incisor in the maxillary right quadrant is called the maxillary right central incisor.
Permanent, or succedaneous, teeth • Thirty two permanent teeth: 16 upper and 16 lower. For the maxillary and mandibular teeth, there are: • Two central incisors, two lateral incisors, two cuspids, two 1st bicuspids, two 2nd bicuspids, two 1st molars, two 2nd molars, two 3rd molars (wisdom teeth)
Permanent teeth are labeled using the same pattern as for the primary teeth. • Complete the assignment sheet 17:2: Identifying the Teeth.