Basic Charting Terminology of the Dental Assistant

Ready for a career as a dental assistant? Before you begin you must learn the terminology used to do basic charting as a dental assistant. This dental assistant terminology includes parts of the teeth and mouth, dental procedures and billing terms. You will be able to master these while attending a dental assistant program at a vocational school in your area.

Primary Types of Teeth in the Mouth

A dental assistant must be able to identify the different types of teeth in the mouth:

Incisors – single-rooted teeth located at the front of the mouth.
Canines – cuspids, located at the corner of the arch.
Premolars – bicuspids, a cross between canines and molars
Molars – 4 or more cusps used for grinding food.

Parts of the Teeth & Mouth

Here is some terminology for the other parts of the teeth and mouth that a dental assistant should know about:

Anatomic Crown – part of the tooth that is covered with enamel.
Clinical Crown – part of the tooth that is visible in the oral cavity.
Cervix – the place in the mouth where the crown of a tooth and its roots meet.
Enamel – the hardest substance in the human body and covers the outer layer of each tooth.
Dentin – hard part of the root surrounding the pulp and covered by enamel on the crown and by cementum on the root.
Cementum – calcified connective tissue that covers the anatomic root of a tooth.
Palate – the roof of the mouth, in between the nose and mouth.
Apex – tapered end of each root tip

Dental Procedures and Mouth Issues

Many dental procedures and mouth issues are discussed during the course of treatment in the dentist office. Here are a few of the dental procedures and mouth issue terms a dental assistant should know:

Impacted Tooth – a tooth that remains unerupted in the jaw.
Gingivitis – inflammation and bleeding of the gums
Cavity – a small hole or fissure in the tooth that may be due to decay, erosion or abrasion
Root Canal – treatment for diseases or abscessed teeth by cleaning and disinfecting the tooth, then filling and sealing it.
Crown – an artificial replacement that restores a missing tooth’s structure
Dental Implant – a device specially designed to be placed surgically within the mouth to replace missing teeth.
Dry Socket – inflammation of the tooth socket after extraction from infection or loss of blood clot.

Dentist Office Insurance Terminology

A dental assistant performs many clerical duties that involve insurance claims and coding of patient records. Here are some insurance terms a dental assistant should know before working in a dentist’s office:

Co-Payment – the amount owed, by a patient, after the benefit plan has paid the dentist’s fee
Deductible – the amount of money that the patient must pay for dental services before the insurance company pays benefits.
Out-of-Pocket Costs – the amount the patient is responsible for paying above the annual maximum.
Coverage – dental benefits covered under a dental benefit plan.
Flexible Spending Account – employee reimbursement account used to pay for dental work pre-tax.
HIPPA Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996;
a federal law that includes Administrative Simplification Provisions that require all health plans to use a standard format for electronic exchange, privacy and security of health information.

Once you master the dental assistant terminology and graduate from a vocational college you will be well on your way to a rewarding career, helping others, in the dental assisting field.

The Dental Assistant Program at PCI Health Training Center prepares a graduate to work as an entry-level Dental Assistant, Dental Receptionist, Office Manager or Dental Hygienist Assistant in a dental office, specialty practice, or dental clinic. The Dental Assistant program also includes preparation for the Dental Assistant Examination to become a Registered Dental Assistant in the State of Texas.

**PCI firmly upholds its policy of nondiscrimination. Inquiries regarding policy may be directed to TitleIXCoordinator@pcihealth.com.

For more information about our graduation rates, the median debt of students who complete the program, and other important information, please visit our website at www.pcihealth.edu/consumer-information. Dental Assistant program offered at our Richardson Campus.