Welcome, Little Ones!
Can you believe we’ve been drilling away at dental school for a whole YEAR? With the new Fall 2018 semester, we got to welcome the new kids in town— our “Littles”! If you recall, our first days as D1s (first-year dental students), we were assigned “Bigs” from the D2 class to act as our guides. Now I’m on the other side, and have the pleasure of mentoring a sweet and smart young lady named Kenzi. We had a fantastic reveal party, hosted by our social chairs, Karley and Zico, complete with a dessert contest and reveal clues. I still have my “Big,”
Andrew (now a D3) to give me insight about what’s to come, like how to rock my first Oral Pathology exam.
Another exciting part of having a new class join the UFCD family is I had the joy of designing their class shirts. The Student Affairs committee invited our class to submit designs and I’m happy to have had
my design selected for printing! It was especially enticing because the prize was a Lilac Paper notebook and an Amazon gift card…can’t beat that! I love seeing these students repping their new shirts at their Orientation Week field day:
Feeling Like Real-Life Tooth Fairies
Moving on to what we’ve been doing in school — it’s been a lot, so I’ll just highlight a few! We’ve started shadowing in clinics, collecting hours of hands-on assisting with living, breathing patients (not our plastic mannequins). It’s inspiring to gain extra chairside time and see patients’ reactions after having their smiles restored. I’m looking forward to tackling those procedures myself!
Even more heartwarming has been our Public Health Rotations. Easing us further into patient interaction, we got to give oral health exams and place sealants for third-graders at local elementary schools and preschool-aged children at a local health department. Kids really do say the darndest things, and I can’t help but have a soft spot for pediatrics.
On a sad note, it’s hard to hear that some of the children have never been to the dentist and already have severe decay. It’s a common misconception that baby teeth don’t matter because they fall out anyway. Rather, damage done to these teeth can set poor foundation for adult teeth coming in. Plus, establishing negative oral care habits as a child can easily increase the risk of maintaining those pesky habits and encountering dental problems as an adult (and you only get one set of those teeth!). In fact, a baby should have his or her first trip to the dentist by age one.
That’s the great things about the interactions we have on our rotations, because it gives us a chance to intervene and get kids on the right track early. We know parents are busy, often working multiple jobs and making sure their children have food on the table, so mastering routines like nightly brushing is challenging, or even overwhelming. We’re always happy to help find solutions that work for the family and it’s never too late to make small changes! We also understand dental care is costly and might intimidate parents from making those routine dental visits for their kids (and especially for themselves). That’s exactly why we stress prevention and keeping kids as healthy as possible to prevent dishing out time, pain, and money for extensive procedures down the road. Little things now really make big differences later.
Our hand skills are really picking up this semester! We typically only have one class a semester that requires working in sim lab, but this Fall we have three: Operative III, Prosthodontics I and Periodontics. Operative III is teaching us a lot about esthetic cases, such as repairing broken front teeth (Class IV restorations) and crafting veneers! You would not believe all the layering and shaping that can go into these restorations to give a natural appearance. For example, we use four different shades of composite to give the illusion of a tooth’s natural dentin and enamel layers.
Prosthodontics is all about crown preparations so far. It’s a lot different than anything we have learned in operative because we are removing significantly more tooth structure to fit a crown or bridge. We have learned preparations for full gold crowns, porcelain fused to metal crowns, and how to make a temporary (provisional) crown. There is definitely a learning curve for me in these classes but it’s awesome to watch our work come to life.
Periodontics is all about the gums! We are learning how to do deep dental cleanings and bone loss prevention with Scaling and Root Planing (SRPs) procedures and learning the ins and outs of hygiene appointments.
And one more pro-tip I’ve learned for dental school (thanks, Reece!): your Snapchat filters do recognize your mannequin: