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FYI: Dental Abbreviations, Acronyms, and Symbols for Charting

Using abbreviations, acronyms and symbols in your charting as you see patients throughout the day is most likely second nature to you and your dental team. When you read professional journals, you may notice the same abbreviations, acronyms and symbols are used throughout those publications.

With this in mind, and in an effort to spread uniformity for authors, educators, practitioners, oral health care students and others who need to know dental-related abbreviations, symbols and acronyms, the ADA has compiled a list, reflecting common current usage.

Create a customized list for your dental practice

Do you have a list of abbreviations, acronyms and symbols that you use in your practice? If so, the ADA recommends that you identify your own approved list of abbreviations, symbols and/or acronyms that are specific to your office.

  • This list should be made part of your office policy so that all team members use uniform terminology. 
  • Keep in mind that everyone may not understand unique abbreviations, symbols or acronyms, which may cause a variety of problems in both clinical and legal settings.
  • Consider including a copy of the list of abbreviations used in your office along with any distributed copies of dental records.
  • If there is any doubt about the understanding of an abbreviation, symbol or acronym, it should not be used. 
  • Consult with your legal counsel, professional liability insurers or risk management representatives for specific advice.

The ADA has also cataloged many terms used daily by dentists and their staff in the Glossary of Dental Clinical and Administrative Terms.

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