Medical Terminology for Dental Assistant Students | EPCI University

Medical Terminology for Dental Assistant Students

Although many people have a phobia of going to the dentist, the truth is that having dental work completed is an important part of every person's individual health care. Thankfully, there are those among us who not only aren't afraid of dentistry, but are actually intrigued enough to make the care of teeth their life.

If you are someone who is considering a future as a dental assistant, you should take that first step and familiarize yourself with the basic terminology and important concepts of the field.

What is it Like to be a Dental Assistant?

What exactly is an accurate job description for a dental assistant? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some of the duties required for this job include: prepping for procedures, ensuring the comfort of each patient, assisting the dentist, giving instruction and assistance to patients, process all testing and x-rays, and more.

What are some Technical Words I Should Know as a Dental Assistant?

As you consider your future, here are some common terms for you to start familiarizing yourself with. Of course, this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg!

  • Abscess: infection in tooth, bone or soft tissue
  • Bite-wing: one x-ray displaying top and bottom teeth in one film
  • Cap or Crown: used to restore the tops of damaged teeth
  • Cuspus: bumps on the surface of the tooth
  • Endodontics: treating a root canal
  • Extraction: removing a tooth (whole or in parts)
  • Gingivitis: gum tissue infection, can lead to bleeding and tooth loss
  • Impacted: tooth that can't break through the gums, needing surgical extraction
  • Impression: making a mold of a patient's teeth and gums
  • Mandible: lower jaw
  • Maxilla: upper jaw
  • Night guard: used during sleep to prevent teeth grinding
  • Nitrous oxide: commonly called 'laughing gas', eases a patient's anxiety
  • Periodontics: treatment of gum problems
  • Radiograph: radiation projected on photographic film, from x-rays
  • Suture: stitching for cuts and wounds

There are, of course, many more terms you will learn along the way. Using various techniques (such as flashcards, memorization, and having a study partner) can help you commit to memory the terminology you need to become an awesome dental assistant.

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The Whole Tooth and Nothing but the Tooth

Every dental care provider, whether a dentist, orthodontist, hygienist, or dental assistant, must know every aspect of the job completely, not just the procedures for caring for a patient's dental well-being, but also everything that is contained in the mouth.

Here are some definitions to help you in your understanding:

  • Palmer's notation: a commonly referred-to method of identifying the teeth in detail, dividing them into quadrants then individually given names. Some names of the teeth include: cuspid, bicuspid, molar, incisor, canine, wisdom, anterior, posterior, and more.
  • Universal numerical: definition of teeth is also an identifying method
  • Parts of a Tooth: The tooth itself is made up of several parts, including: enamel (hard ceramic), dentin (calcium), pulp (soft, inner part), cementum (bony, covering nerves), nerve, PDL, and roots (the part of a tooth found in the gums, the anchor). Each of these parts serves a vital role in the health and growth of your teeth.
  • Gums: the soft, pink area around your teeth that provides support.

Move to the Head of the Class

Considering these terms as a starting point, if you are ready to pursue a dental assistant degree, ECPI University could be the next stop on your educational journey. For more information about becoming a dental assistant and obtaining an Associate of Applied Science in Health Science degree, contact us today. 

It could be the Best Decision You Ever Make!

Learn more about ECPI's College of Health Science TODAY!

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