Dental Office Procedures for Dental Assisting Exam Study Guide (page 4)

Updated on Jun 23, 2011


Dental supplies can be divided into three categories: expendable, non-expendable, and capital.

Expendable Supplies

Expendable supplies are single-use items that are disposable and thrown away after one use. Examples include cotton rolls, gauze, local anesthetic, stationery, plastic barriers, gloves, and headrest covers.

Non-Expendable Supplies

Non-expendable supplies are reusable items that are not a major expense. Examples include most dental instruments, curing lights, and hand pieces. These supplies are sterilized and then reused.

Capital Supplies

Capital supplies are the more costly items that are seldom replaced, for example, computers, sterilizers, dental chairs, and dental units.

An inventory system is a list of all supplies used in the dental offi ce that includes capital, expendable, and non-expendable items. Capital items are usually tracked on a spreadsheet or individual cards. Expendable and non-expendable items are tracked using either a computerized inventory system, or a manual card or list inventory system. If a card system is used, an individual card represents each item.

Inventory system information is usually tracked according to the minimum order amount, maximum order amount, date ordered, amount ordered, unit price, and arrival date of the item, along with the product name, brand name, supplier name, and the supplier’s address and phone number.

The amount ordered of each item is based upon the shelf life of the item, the rate of use, the amount of money available for purchase, the amount of storage space, the supplier’s delivery time, and the special pricing of the item.

Purchase orders are used for large institutions and often include standardized order forms for the supplies. A packing slip is enclosed with the items when they arrive, and it specifies the contents of the package, the amount of items enclosed, and any items that are on back order. An invoice is a list of the cost of the contents in the package, and can also be a statement unless the supplier sends separate statements. The invoices must be compared to the statement that is received at the end of the month, and they must correspond. If an item ordered is not in stock and will be shipped at a later date, a back order memo is issued and the supplier will ship the item when it becomes available.

If an item is returned to the supplier, a credit memo is issued for the amount of the item.

Any supply that contains hazardous material must come with a material safety data sheet (MSDS). This sheet is provided to the purchaser by the manufacturer, and it provides information about the hazardous material. The U.S. government requires that MSDS sheets be saved and filed for employee and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reference. All team members must know where to find the MSDS book in an office. Biohazard labels must be affixed accordingly to any items that are transferred to alternate containers.

Practice problems for this study guide can be found at:

Dental Office Procedures for Dental Assisting Exam Practice Problems

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