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Back to School for Dentists? Why Continuing Education Matters

You’re probably already aware of the importance of continuing education for yourself and your kids, but did you know that it’s also extremely important for your dentist, too? After all, with new advances in dentistry occurring almost every month, if your dentist isn’t continuing her education, she's doing herself and her patients a disservice.  

 

When choosing a dentist, it’s important to make sure that your practitioner is staying current with new procedures and technology. A dentist who does not choose to learn beyond what they’ve acquired in dental school could be putting your mouth at risk with dated techniques and unsafe practices, but he could also be causing a lot of undue pain by doing unnecessary work or performing a procedure "the old way," which may be less comfortable than newer methods.

Don’t be afraid to interview your potential or current dentist about his or her education. Ask him or her how many hours of continuing education he or she takes each year, and where. Case in point, while it is great to know your dentist is taking OSHA safety or bookkeeping classes, those are not classes that directly benefit the patient and will most likely not improve the quality of your care. 

A good rule of thumb is that your dentist should be taking classes at least every six months. Though it varies by state (dentists are required to take a minimum of 15 hours in North Carolina) most states require some continuing education for dentists to remain licensed. Beyond that, your dentist is free to attend as few or as many classes as he or she chooses, but the more closely related to clinical practice the classes are, the better. While your dentist is not required to take more than the minimum, bonus points for those who do! That means your dentist is truly invested in providing you the best care possible.

Your dentist should also keep taking equipment training classes. Often the machinery used in dental practices can add features or software upgrades throughout the year. It is important for not just your dentist, but also for the entire practice to be up-to-date on how to use this equipment. This benefits the practice by enabling your dentist to offer more services and operate more efficiently, and it benefits the patient by providing a more accurate diagnosis and ultimately a more accurate treatment.

If you are curious about how many hours of continuing education your state requires, visit your state’s dental board website, or ask your dentist’s office. If you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment with Dr. Simpson, please give our office a call at 910-550-3959.

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Michele Simpson DDS

Wilmington Dental Office

3317 Masonboro Loop Rd • Suite 140 • Wilmington, NC 28409

(910) 550-3959