By Kimberly Morgan, RDH

There’s nothing worse than having a patient come into your dental office and ask about a certain dental product or procedure that you’ve never heard of.

This happened to me many years ago when a patient asked me about Lumineers. I was clueless, so the patient started telling me about the procedure and showed me pictures she’d printed off the internet. Talk about an awkward moment.

Patients research more online now than ever before and they might have questions for you. Dentistry is always advancing and changing with new materials and techniques. This is why it’s so important for team members to stay armed with the latest knowledge in the dental field.

License renewal is another reason dental continuing education is important. States want to ensure that all licensees stay current on the latest changes and advancements in their profession. Many dental assistants are required to take a certain number of continuing education hours per year in order to renew their license.

However, even if you don’t fall into this category and do not need to obtain CEs, you shouldn’t stop learning because you’ve received your degree or certificate in dental assisting. Stay up-to-date and informed with current clinical procedures and treatments. It’s our job to stay educated in our field.

Continuing education opportunities are plentiful. There are training workshops, seminars, conferences, conventions, and online webinars. Many are free, just Google “free dental CEs.” You can even check out the YouTube site for different dental videos. It’s impressive how much material is out there.

Also, I suggest you subscribe to a dental magazine, which is a great source of valuable information. Getting more training in your field not only keeps you up-to-date on the latest developments, but it also makes you a more valued member of the dental team.

Lastly, when your dental reps visit the office, talk to them! They have a wealth of insight to share. If you’re at a dental convention, visit the exhibitor booths and ask questions about products. Get samples and try them out for yourself. Continued learning will not only better position you to advance in your field, it will ensure that you’re able to provide the best possible care for your patients and that you’ll be ready to answer their questions!