The benefits of a postgraduate dental program

June 13, 2016

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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After graduating from dental school and becoming licensed, you are ready to start your career as a dentist. At that point, many dentists join a private practice or open their own office and work as a general dentist. General dentists provide primary dental care for their patients, such as fillings, root canals, cosmetic procedures, gum disease treatments and restorative care.

Why should I complete a dental residency?

Instead of performing general dentistry, some new dentists are interested in specializing in a field, such as periodontics or endodontics. Depending on your area of interest, you may be required to complete a dental residency in your chosen specialty.

But post-graduate residencies are not just for those who want to specialize. There are also programs for dentists who plan to work in general dentistry. The two types of programs for general dentists include a “General Practice Residency” and “Advanced Education in General Dentistry (AEGD).” In most states, dentists are not required to complete a post-graduate program in general dentistry, but many do so to gain additional experience.

Both general practice residency programs and advanced education in general dentistry programs may be dental school or hospital-based. In addition, both types of post-graduate training focus on enhancing general dentistry skills and knowledge.

Programs are often similar, but one distinction is general practice residency programs often focus more on treating hospitalized patients than an AEGD program. Residents may deliver dental care to a variety of hospitalized patients. For example, a hospitalized patient may have an infection in a tooth that needs to be treated before it becomes worse.

Dentists in a general practice residency often get experienced in advanced practice in areas including oral surgery, endodontics and restorative dentistry. Students may also complete rotations in oral pathology, oral surgery and inpatient dental care.

In some programs, dentists are required to be on call a certain number of days per month. Being on call helps dentists develop the skills and judgment needed to handle dental emergencies. This experience also helps dentists gain hospital privileges once they are in private practice.

Advanced education in general dentistry programs also provides advanced training for new dental grads who want to enhance their skills as general dentists. Although the curriculum varies by program, lectures, clinical experience and seminars are often part of post-graduate dental training. Residents in advanced education in general dentistry programs may also complete rotations in various specialties.

How long are the programs?

Although there are some two-year post-graduate programs in general dentistry, many programs are a year. A certificate of completion is awarded at the end of training.

What are the benefits?

Both types of post-graduate dental training programs have several benefits. For many dentists, a residency bridges the gap between dental school and opening a private practice. The advanced clinical training in dentistry, such as sedation techniques, restorative care and emergency treatment, can help a new dentist function effectively in private practice. Additional training and experience can also increase confidence in a new dentist just starting their career.



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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives, and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.