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Dental Continuing Education

Dental Continuing Education

Where to go for Dental Continuing Education

There are approximately 160,000 practicing dentists in the U.S. Aided by 120,000 dental hygienists and 200,000 dental assistants, they collectively take care of the teeth of approximately 300 million Americans; that's 960 million teeth! To help them stay current in their field, dentists and dental hygienists are required to participate in dental continuing education throughout the duration of their careers.

Maintaining a certain level of dental continuing education, or CE, is a necessary part of anyone's medical career in dentistry. Dental assistants, once licensed through a dental assistance program, are not required to maintain any level of continuing education as their responsibilities are limited to administrative and not medical tasks. Each of the 51 dental boards (50 states plus the District of Columbia ) requires those in the field to achieve a certain number of acceptable CE credits before they can renew their license.


The requirements for the number and type of CE credits differ by state. A CE contact hour is considered 50 minutes of educational time. Continuing Education Units (CEUs), on the other hand, are different; one CEU equals 10 'contact hours'. If the practitioner is pursuing continuing education through a college course, one semester hour equals 15 contact hours .

CE courses must be approved and accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA), a subsidiary of the American Dental Association (ADA). The CDA is a peer review organization that ensures a standard level of 'performance, integrity and quality' for all dental continuing education programs.

Further resources for those in the field who are looking into dental continuing education programs:

The American Dental Association (ADA) is the world's largest and oldest professional association of dentists, boasting seven out of ten American dentists as members. They provide information on testing and dental continuing education at www.ada.org.

The American Dental Hygienists' Association (ADHA) is the largest organization representing registered dental hygienists in the U.S. The ADHA offers online CE courses at www.adha.org.

The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) is a smaller organization that provides information for the general dental practitioner on their website at www.agd.org.