Dental School Graduates or Residency Trained Dentists

Author: Dr. David G. Dickerhoff, DDS, MAGD, FOCOI

I sometimes use the analogy of Parachutist School at Fort Benning when I think of the difference between a dental school graduate and a residency trained dentist. The school at Fort Benning gives you a very arduous period of training and equips you to perform your function as a parachutist, but it doesn’t teach you how to be a paratrooper. Subsequent experience at Fort Bragg’s 82nd Airborne Division or tours with Special Operations Units will teach you that subtle difference between being a “five jump commando” and being a combat ready paratrooper. The same analogy can be applied to dental school graduates. They have been through an arduous level of training during their four years at dental school, but dental school prepares you to perform at an entry level position and does not necessarily function to give you philosophy or experience. Residency training is usually hospital based and lasts anywhere from one to three years. It is a period where you can learn from experienced clinicians and you can begin to develop philosophy, judgment and experience. Most dental schools do not teach removal of impacted teeth, multi-rooted root canals, or regenerative bone and gum techniques. These are skills meant for referral to specialists or clinicians who have trained in their indications and techniques. But residency trained dentists have worked underneath a specialist’s tutelage and are very competent in most dental procedures. Most importantly, they are trained in the subtleties of complex treatment planning, especially growth development. Being able to give great advice to a parent about their children might be the difference between wearing braces for two years instead of five or avoiding jaw surgery after growth stops because you steered growth while it was happening. We, at Spring Lake Dental Group, love having the ability to refer to specialists within our practice without inconveniencing our patients, but we are especially proud of our staff of general dentists who have all completed a year or more of post graduate residencies. That’s right! Drs. Dickerhoff, Lewis, Vitelli-Rodriguez and Powell are all residency trained dentists. We hope that this matters to you! Because we take your treatment planning very seriously and want to always treat you as a part of our family. Because you are!