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Vol. 100 No.

July 2005

EDITORIAL
You dont know what you dont know

Dentistry is a dynamic profession. As an individual


who received general dental and specialty training
in the 1970s, I am amazed at how many principles
and techniques that I was taught in that era are no
longer appropriate or adequate. As a specialist in oralmaxillofacial surgery, it is difficult for one to have a full
appreciation for all the changes in the general dental
field. But just looking at the areas of dental materials,
implants, pharmacology, and new understandings in the
field of medicine is daunting. Also improved strategies
for delivering endodontics, orthodontics, and periodontics continue to come forth. Pathologists now explore
the genetic and molecular bases of pathology, and radiologists have a new array of advanced imaging technology
at their fingertips. Thus, those dentists who are more than
a couple of years out of dental school or their residency
program cannot rely on their prior training as making
them fully cognizant of the latest thoughts on patient
management concepts and techniques.
Continued learning is therefore necessary if one
seeks to give their patients all of the advantages contemporary dental and medical science have to offer.
Patients expect us, as professionals, to be aware of all
there is to know within the areas of care we individually
offer to our own patients; otherwise they presume we
would refer them to someone with the requisite expertise or, at the very least, obtain the advice from a
consultant.
As a full-time academician, dean, and journal editor,
it might be easy for someone like me to pontificate about
the duty of all dentists to constantly strive to know all
there is to know about their particular scope of dental
issues and procedures. I am immersed in a sea of
knowledge, ready to drink it in. I teach and therefore
feel compelled to stay abreast of new ideas related to
my specialty, and I continue to regularly treat my own
patients giving me an additional impetus to stay current.
Plus I have the advantage of reading all oral surgery
submissions to this Journal, and occasionally review
books and submissions to other journals. I also have an

unexplainable love to learn things, all things. For me,


continually learning is virtually automatic.
Dental deans are often kidded (maybe theyre not
kidding) that they are out of touch with the practicing
dentist, but all of the deans I know are very aware of
the physical and psychological burdens of the practice
of dentistry in the private sector. Continued focus on
delivering precise, technique-sensitive procedures and
making correct judgment calls on each patient for many
hours at a stretch can be exhausting. And the financial
responsibility to ones practice makes each day away
from the office costly. So for practitioners to take a day
or more off on a regular basis to obtain updated knowledge by traditional means in a classroom or meeting
hall can be difficult. This is especially true if one must
first travel to a distant site where the education is
provided.
Journals have long been a valuable means by which
new knowledge about a discipline is delivered. This
is particularly true if the journal obtains quality submissions that are then subjected to review by content
experts. Thus, regular reading of dental journals such as
this one is a useful way to receive some of the continuing
education dental professionals should gain.
Most states in the United States require all dental
professionals to participate in continuing education (CE)
as a basis for maintaining an active license to practice.
Some liability insurers and others also have a continuing
education requirement. In the past, only educational
programs given in the standard meeting room setting
were allowed to be credited toward CE requirements.
However, most agencies requiring CE have extended
the allowed CE formats to include on-line courses and
learning via the reading and digestion of articles in
peer-reviewed publications. Some agencies have gone
so far as to include attendance at practice management
courses and society business meetings. These can help
educate an individual but rarely help one learn new
scientifically validated concepts affecting the direct care
of patients. Nonetheless, the ability to receive CE credit
1

OOOOE
July 2005

2 Editorial
from reading articles is now available from many
journals.
I am pleased that our Journal will soon offer this
option to our readers. The details of our CE offering will
come with the next issue; but in brief, an article from
each of our main sections will be designated each
month as a CE credit-eligible article. Selected articles
will either touch on new, clinically relevant concepts or
techniques, or put into question commonly held beliefs
or principles and might change how we view and
manage certain clinical circumstances. This does not
mean other non-CE designated articles are unimportant;
rather, it only means that they do not change current
thinking to an equally significant degree. Each designated article will have a primary and secondary question
posed. The reader is expected to read the article, then
answer the questions and submit their answers in order
to receive credit. Continuing education credit will be
administered through the American College of Oral
and Maxillofacial Surgeons, who are an ADA CERP

Recognized Provider and recognized by the Academy


of General Dentistry. The process will be revenue
neutral, but a nominal fee will be necessary. This fee
falls well below the typical cost for continuing education credits earned in other ways.
Although our Journal should not be the sole source of
continued learning for any dental professional, we hope
many take advantage of this easy way to stay informed
about clinically applicable scientific progress.
James R. Hupp, DMD, MD, JD, MBA
Editor-in-Chief
Section Editor, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery
The University of Mississippi
School of Dentistry
Jackson, Miss

doi:10.1016/j.tripleo.2005.05.056