The courses that make up a dental assistant training program cover a wide variety of subjects in health, science, and general education. Courses are designed to build expertise in the dental profession and healthcare in general.
Since much of being a dental assistant involves working with people and helping to run a business, courses in business and human relations are just as important as courses in dental morphology. Employers value dental assistants who can both manage a front office and assist during procedures.
Although dental assistant courses vary between schools, the courses described below are included in most dental assistant programs.
Dental Assistant Course Subjects
First Aid and CPR: This course teaches the basics of CPR and first aid in case emergencies occur during patient care.
The Dental Profession: This course serves an introduction to the dental industry and helps assistants become familiar with the industry basics.
Clinical Chairside Assisting: Dental assistant courses in chairside practices provide students with knowledge of techniques and procedures for working with the dentist and patient during procedures. It provides a preview of the day-to-day responsibilities of a dental assistant.
Dental Materials: This important course familiarizes students with the materials of the dental profession. The goal is mastery of dental assistant vocabulary and the use of important tools and materials.
Infection Control: Dental assistant courses in infection control teach students to prevent and fight infection in patients. Students learn about maintaining sterility in the dental environment and treating infections with various antibiotics.
Specialties: Students in this dental assistant course learn about the various dental specialties they might encounter during their careers, including pediatric dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, and orthodontics.
Laboratory Procedures: Dental assistant courses in laboratory procedures teach students a hands-on approach to mastering routine tests and other procedures.
Business Administration: Dental assistant courses in business teach dental assisting students the business skills needed to work effectively in a dental office. This includes effectively dealing with patients and suppliers, scheduling appointments, and providing customer service.
Head and Neck Anatomy: Students of this basic dental assistant course learn the various parts of the head and neck.
Oral Anatomy: This important dental assistant course teaches the anatomy of the mouth and teeth. Tooth Morphology: This course teaches students the anatomic topography of the teeth.
Microbiology: This prerequisite-level dental assisting course focuses on the microbes that cause tooth decay and other oral health problems.
Anatomy and Physiology: This prerequisite healthcare course provides a general overview of the anatomy of the human body.
Oral Pathology: In this course, dental assisting students learn the various diseases and afflictions that infect patients.
Embryology and Histology: Histology deals with microstructures of the human body and their related functions, while embryology mainly concerns the developmental processes of a human being.
Psychology and the Special Patient: In this dental assistant course, students learn to deal with patient psychology. Psychological practices help dental assistants keep patients in a calm and relaxed state to make their visit as peaceful as possible.
Pharmacology, Pain Control, and Therapeutics: In this course, dental assistants learn about the various drugs and medicines used in dentistry and how to administer them to patients correctly.
Preventive Dentistry and Nutrition: This course gives dental assistants the knowledge to advise patients on proper preventative dental care.
Radiology: These dental assistant courses teach dental assistants the basics of dental radiology and how take and evaluate patient x-rays.
Human Relations: This course helps dental assistants with the business aspects of the dental profession.
Job Seeking Skills: This provides tips and strategies to help dental assistants find employment after graduation.
Dental Assisting Externships
After completing all required dental assistant courses, most dental assisting students take on externships at local dental offices. During an externship, the dental assistant makes use of the knowledge gained from the above courses and applies it in a live dental setting.
Externships help dental assistants gain real-world work experience and become more attractive to employers, and often help them form professional connections at the externship site.