The field of dental education is huge and varied. It covers a lot of different jobs. People can train as general dentists, as specialists, as dental hygienists, dental assistants and also as dental laboratory technicians. The length of time each group has to spend in school varies tremendously.
Dentists obviously have to spend many years training, and will have to do further courses if they then choose to specialize in a particular field such as orthodontics. The training for dental assistants and hygienists is generally only a couple of years. Dental technicians can spend between two and four years doing their initial training. The length of training for all groups may vary from country to country.
Once a dental health professional has qualified they cannot just rest on their laurels. The world of dentistry is fast changing as new technology is being brought in all the time. It is vitally important that everyone keeps up to date, and is able to use the latest techniques and equipment.
Many countries demand that their dental health professionals are registered. Part of this registration may involve taking part in a program of continuing education. A professional may have to collect a certain number of hours every year, or over a period of two or three years.
They may have to collect verification that they have completed the courses, and will have to notify their registering body of this. Some of the hours can be made up from attending dental shows. The ideas is that these shows contain a lot of information from suppliers and that the health professionals can walk around and talk to the manufacturers of all the latest products and find out if they would like to use them.
The hours spent at these shows are usually verified by the dental health professional having their badge scanned when entering and leaving. Other ways that dental health professionals can build up the hours for their continuing professional development include reading dental journals and attending courses and seminars. There are lots to choose from.
These courses range from being hands on to viewing videos online. While it may seem better for students to physically attend courses as they will get a lot out of it, the online courses have much to recommend them. The online courses are often done by leading experts in the field.
This gives the students the chance to see the very best people at work. It is often a good idea to watch an online course even if you are intending to physically go to the course, as you will be much better prepared to learn, and may have more questions to ask. An online course will show the professional working in great detail. This detail is sometimes difficult to see in a classroom situation.
It can be difficult to take the time off from work to travel to and from courses, but sometimes it is necessary to make the effort. A live course or seminar does give you a much greater opportunity to learn about a subject in depth. Another advantage is that you will be able to discuss it with colleagues also attending the course. Continuing dental education is important.