In all careers, continuing education is important for professional development. Every day, new discoveries are made and newer, more advanced technologies are replacing current or old ones. By being up to date on the new information, trends and technology, professionals like doctors, engineers and others improve their skills and perform better in their work. The field of medicine is sub-divided into many areas of specialization, dentistry being one of them. Dentists who become orthodontists need to take their orthodontic continuing education seriously if they aim to become better in their profession.
Orthodontics is a branch of dentistry that deals with problems of irregularly arranged teeth, for example, crooked teeth, overcrowded or overly spaced teeth. This may happen if the jaw is not developed well, or if it does not have enough space to accommodate the teeth in a proper arrangement. Some dentists may give orthodontic services. However, they will mostly refer the patients to a specialist.
An orthodontist will work to improve the way teeth are aligned in the mouth using specially designed devices such as braces, space maintainers, bumpers, retainers and expanders, among others. These procedures are carried out mainly for improving the appearance of teeth (cosmetic) and for proper functioning. It also helps to prevent loss of teeth, because such problems prevent good mouth hygiene, which may lead to tooth decay and infections like periodontal disease.
After undergoing the medical and dentist training, which takes about six years, a dental care specialist will normally take a two-three year post doctorate course in orthodontics in order to become a specialist in the field. Therefore, it would take you about eight years of training to become an orthodontist.
To be allowed to practice in orthodontics, a dentist must first have passed exams and clinical tests from an accredited dental school, after which a license is awarded. The specialist is then required to enroll in continuing education programs so as to keep abreast of advancements in the field and meet the requirements for licensing.
Some of the continuing education courses for orthodontists include topics about the body and the relationship between the cosmetic aspect of orthodontics and the physiological need for correcting abnormal teeth arrangement to improve the functioning of the dental system.
Other important training aspects in continuing education is about learning to diagnose underlying health conditions based on some problems such as sores in the mouth. This would help the specialist to improve on designing a treatment plan. In addition, other treatment aspects that involve the use of the various devices used to correct orthodontic problems are discussed.
Orthodontists are also given training on business aspects of growing a successful practice. This includes communications, customer care, and marketing, human resource management as well as how to use technology to improve your practice.
Specialists may opt to go into private practice or work as visiting practitioners to clinics or hospitals for specific hours at a time. Orthodontics offers those practicing in it a very good opportunity for a rewarding and well-paying career, especially for those with orthodontic continuing education. The profession is expected to grow in the near future.