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Overview of Risks of Medical and Dental Terminology

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Medical
Wordcount: 1109 words Published: 26th Jul 2021

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Medical Terminology

The medical field has its own set of terminology which is not well-known to members outside of the field. Whereas not everyone in the clinic must be fluent in all medical terminology, there are some terms which are extremely important for everyone in a clinical setting to be somewhat familiar with, and here are some examples. One example is “angina”, which refers to refers to a form of chest pain (CNA Programs, 2019). Another example of an important term to be familiar with is “cyanosis”, which refers to the skin or mucus membranes appearing to look blue (CNA Programs, 2019). A third example of an important medical term is “edema”, which refers to a significant amount of swelling (CNA Programs, 2019). A fourth example of an important term for healthcare professionals to be familiar with is “emesis”, which is a term that refers to vomiting (CNA Programs, 2019). “Supine position” is another example of a term which is important to be familiar with, which means “lying on the back, facing up” (CNA Programs, 2019).

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Dental Terminology

Like medical terminology, the dental field has some distinct terms which dental personnel should be familiar with. Here are some examples. The term “anterior” refers to the incisors and cuspids (American Dental Association, 2019). These are commonly referred to as the “front teeth”. They consist of central incisors and lateral incisors. The term “bicuspids” refers to premolar which has two cusps (American Dental Association, 2019). Most people naturally have two bicuspids in each quadrant of their mouth, or eight total bicuspids.

The term “cuspids” refers to a tooth with one cusp and is located between the incisors and bicuspids (American Dental Association, 2019). People have one cuspid in each quadrant, or four total cuspids. The term “incisors” refers to a cutting tooth which is in the front of the mouth (American Dental Association, 2019). As mentioned earlier, incisors consist of central and lateral incisors, and people have two central and two lateral incisors on each jaw. The term “molars” refers to posterior teeth which are located behind the premolars (American Dental Association, 2019). People naturally have twelve molars (three in each quadrant), but most people have their third molars (or “wisdom teeth”) removed, leaving them with eight molars. The term “posterior” refers to teeth which are in the back of the mouth (i.e. bicuspids/premolars and molars) (American Dental Association, 2019).


Along with medical and dental terminology, it is important for healthcare professionals to be familiar with abbreviations and acronyms. Here are some examples. “AMA” means “against medical advice” (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2019). This acronym is important to know if something happens to the patient who did not follow the medical advice they were given. This information may be useful in protecting the organization against malpractice lawsuits.

The acronym “BP” means “blood pressure” (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2019). All doctors, nurses, and technicians must understand this acronym in order to provide proper medical care to patients. “CPR” means “cardiopulmonary resuscitation” (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2019). Every employee must understand this acronym. The acronym “DNKA” means “did not keep appointment” (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2019). Again, this acronym may be important in covering the organization from potential lawsuits. “FH” stands for “family history” and “HR” stands for “heart rate”, which are both vital to know when providing treatment to patients (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2019).

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Possible Risks/Complications

Failure of healthcare professionals to understand medical and dental terminology, as well as abbreviations and acronyms, could have serious risks, and may even lead to treatment complications. For example, if there is a communication breakdown (caused by misunderstanding terminology) between treatment team members, the incorrect treatment may be given to the patient, which could be fatal (McWay, 2014). Also, inconsistent terminology may cause complications with disease classifications, which could be detrimental to the patient’s health (McWay, 2014). Another potential complication caused by medical staff being unfamiliar with terminology is the inability to compare diseases, which causes difficulty in identifying potential trends (McWay, 2014). Another example of a complication caused by terminology and acronym unfamiliarity is billing errors, caused by billing staff not understanding the treatment which was provided (McWay, 2014). Finally, failure to be familiar with medical and dental terminology and abbreviations and acronyms could lead to the inability to perform quality control, due to the uncertainty of what treatment was provided (McWay, 2014).


In conclusion, the medical field has distinct terminologies and acronyms and abbreviations. Similarly, the dental field has its own terminologies and abbreviations and acronyms. It is vital that all staff members familiarize themselves with this information. Failure to understand these terms could have serious consequences. These consequences include (but are not limited to) providing the incorrect treatment, inability to classify the disease, inability to compare diseases, billing errors, and inadequate quality control (McWay, 2014). Additionally, utilizing universal terms and acronyms between staff members can help to us provide a higher level of care, while protecting the organization from malpractice lawsuits.


  • American Dental Association (2019). Glossary of Dental Clinical and Administrative Terms. www.ada.org. Retrieved from https://www.ada.org/en/publications/cdt/glossary-of-dental-clinical-and-administrative-ter
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (2019). Common Medical Abbreviations. www.asha.org. Retrieved from https://www.asha.org/uploadedFiles/slp/healthcare/Medicalabbreviations.pdf
  • CAN Programs (2019). Common CNA Medical Terminology. www.cnaprograms.org. Retrieved from https://www.cnaprograms.org/articles/common-cna-medical-terminology.html
  • McWay, D. (2014). Today's Health Information Management: An Integrated Approach. Chapter 6 Nomenclatures and Classification Systems. Retrieved from https://purdueuniversityglobal.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781285687452/cfi/6/20!/4/2@0:0


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