Do some dentists take more continuing education than others?
Continuing education credits (CE credits) are something that every dental practitioner is legally required to complete on an annual basis.
Depending on the province where your dentist is located, some are mandated to take more than others. However, some dentists choose to take dozens to hundreds of hours more than what’s legally required, simply to become the best provider possible or perfect their knowledge in certain areas of dentistry.
Although dentists graduate from dental school being competent in all general and restorative dentistry, ongoing CE credits help them to advance their capabilities and improve the quality of care they’re capable of offering to their patients.
Added continuing education certifications
It’s not uncommon for the best dentists in the nation to travel out of town (or across the country) to complete intensive training, mini-residencies, mentorship, or clinics to learn specific strategies and perfect their current skill set.
Certain procedures cannot be completed in the dental office unless specific continuing education courses are taken and certifications earned.
On the other hand, a procedure such as dental implants or soft tissue therapies can be offered in a general private practice, but the dentist may not feel they have enough of a foundation of knowledge and skill set to confidently provide this service without additional training outside of dental school. Attending topic-specific courses on these treatments gives the dentist the resources necessary to perform the highest level of care with added training in a particular subject.
Incorporating new technology and methods
Every few years, new technological advancements and treatment methods are developed. To learn how to use them, dentists must select specific CE credits classes for appropriate training. Unless they go out of the way to attend these continuing education courses, they won’t receive the training and tips from the people who developed them and understand the “behind the scenes” details.
For instance, soft tissue laser therapy is becoming more and more common in general and specialty dental clinics. But unless your dentist has added training in how to properly use the equipment, you may be more hesitant to have your procedure completed in their office. When your dentist goes to continuing education courses, it benefits both them at a professional level and you as a patient.
Training by the world’s top dentists
Not all continuing education providers and courses are the same. The best dentists will seek out the best CE credits institutions, which hold high standards in patient care and professional skill sets. Smaller, more intensive courses make it so that your dentist can learn from the best leaders in the industry. Many choose to travel out of town multiple times throughout the year, simply to train with these industry professionals.
What makes a dentist a specialist?
Some dentists advertise themselves as “experts” or “specialists” in a certain field, such as smile makeovers, dental implants, or cosmetic dentistry. But those terms are actually reserved for specific dentists who meet additional criteria that includes another 2-4 years of formal dental education on top of their four years of dental school.
What are the types of dental specialists?
According to the American Dental Association, there are specific types of dental specialists recognized in the country. These include:
Periodontists — A type of dental expert who specializes in managing the bone and soft tissues around teeth, such as in the instance of gum disease or dental implant therapy.
Prosthodontists — Experts at tooth replacement and fixed restorations, such as dentures, dental bridges, and implant restorations.
Pediatric Dentists — Those dentists who specialize in treating children, especially those who are young or have special needs.
Endodontists — This is who your dentist might refer you to if you needed a particularly challenging root canal treatment or are experiencing unexplained tooth pain.
Orthodontists — You’re probably familiar with this one! These dentists are experts at orofacial and growth modification with braces and orthodontic appliances.
Oral Surgeons — While known for wisdom tooth removal, oral surgeons also provide reconstructive jaw surgeries, dental implant placement, and cleft palate repair.
There are other specialists like Oral Pathologists and Oral Radiologists, who may be experts you see if you’re experiencing chemotherapy or oral cancer diagnosis and treatment.
In order to become one of these experts, dentists must be accepted into a post-graduate dental program to further their formal studies in the particular area of oral health. While a dentist may claim to specialize in a particular treatment, they are not a licensed specialist unless they’ve completed one of these post-graduate programs.