It’s Been Awhile…

Sorry for the long absence. I got extremely busy and then the blog kind of got put on the back burner.

There is a lot to fill you in on. My wife and I are expecting a baby in mid April which is really exciting. My wife and the baby are doing great. There haven’t been any problems and overall the pregnancy has gone smoothly. Once the baby is here, my wife, who teaches fourth grade now, will stay home full time. Fortunately, the due date lines up perfectly for maternity leave to go through the end of the school year so she won’t have to go back to teach at the end of the year which works out well. (It’s almost like we planned it or something).

The reason it will work for us for my wife to stay home with the baby is mostly due to the Health Professions Scholarship. The scholarship comes to around $28,000 per year in addition to covering tuition, books and my health insurance. This plus what we have saved will get us through the next two and a half years.

I took the National Dental Boards Part 1 on December 29. Fortunately I passed on my first attempt. I was dreading having to continue studying to retake the test over spring break. In terms of studying, I started casually in early November going through the Dental Boards Mastery app. It was developed by students at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry and it is pretty great. It’s basically the Dental Decks in your pocket. The app keeps track of what you get right and wrong, which subjects to work on and different categories within the subjects that you are weakest. It also gives detailed explanations of the answers for each question. The app is really convenient because you can get through a handful on the bus or between classes without having to carry around a bunch of flashcards from the decks. It also has other great information like important terms and mnemonics which are really helpful. I went through the entire app. I liked that I could gauge my progress as I studied. Most of my class used it, some people only used this app. We all really liked it.

In addition to the app, I used a First Aid book from 2009. I think it was the second edition. This book is good to fill in the gaps that you don’t remember from the basic science classes and refresh what you did learn. I used First Aid for all of the subjects except anatomy. I did not like how this section was presented. It didn’t really fit with my learning style. For the anatomy section, I used the notes from the anatomy class we had as D1s. This worked for me because the professor for this class really geared it toward dental students. We had two units over general anatomy and the rest of the class was just head and neck. I skipped the first two units and then went through everything from the rest of the class. I focused most of my time on this section since the questions here can be very detailed. I’m glad I didn’t waste my time on general anatomy; I only had two or three questions from that material.

I also used released exams to gauge my progress. I bought a CD of released exams from an upperclassman and my school provided some as well.
I really buckled down to study after Thanksgiving. This was difficult while simultaneously studying for finals. I didn’t enjoy the second half of November or any of December too much. We finished up finals week on December 19 and then it was all day everyday devoted to boards. My wife and I went home for Christmas early on the 24th and then came back late on the 26th. I took two sets of released exams (I think they were from 2004 and 2009, each had 200 questions; the actual test is 400) and simulated a test for myself to see if I needed to study at home over Christmas. I got an 80% on this practice test. Part 1 boards are scored on an adjusted scale. So according to many sources, you need somewhere around a 65% to get a passing score of 75. I’m glad I tested myself so that I knew I could take some time off and relax over Christmas. According to the 1998 conversion chart an 80% is a score of around 92 or something like that. I’m not sure if that chart is still applicable but it definitely gave me confidence. Once we got back, I used the 27th and 28th to review everything and then took the test on the 29th. It was a long day (7 hours) and some of the questions were kind of obscure but for the most part, it seemed like a manageable test. The test is split up into two sections each with 200 questions. I went through each section and put answers for everything even if I wasn’t sure and then I went back through the section again to check my answers. I finished each section with about a half an hour to spare. Overall I felt somewhat confident when I was done. Then came the waiting game.

I think Part 1 boards are curved based on the group that takes the test during a certain time period. That means that you don’t get your score right away like the DAT even though you take the test on a computer. On Friday January 16th, my wife and I went home for a baby shower. This was the only time that worked for us since we both had Monday off for Martin Luther King day. The problem with this was the results from boards came on Saturday the 17th. We had an appointment in our home town Monday morning to have a family friend look at our car so I was stuck waiting all of Saturday, all of Sunday, and most of the morning on Monday and then we had a five hour drive back before I could get my results. It was torture to wait all weekend after so many people in my class were putting “Passed!” on Facebook. I considered driving back to our apartment Sunday morning and then returning Sunday night but that wouldn’t have changed whether I passed or not so I begrudgingly decided against it.

First semester went well. We started treating operative and preventive patients which is pretty awesome. (Preventive patients are just prophy recalls) A lot of schools don’t have D2s treat patients but we have the opportunity to with several checks along the way by faculty. We actually saw three patients last year a D1s for prophy appointments. Didactic courses also went well. We had fixed prosthodontics lab and lecture, operative lecture, growth and development, oral pathology, human pathology, microbiology, anesthesia and pain control, experiential learning, and periodontics (I think that’s everything). I ended up doing well in all the classes even with studying for boards over finals which I was pretty happy about.

As for second semester, we have fixed pros 2 that is ending soon and will be replaced by removable partial denture prosthodontics. We are also taking orthodontics lecture and lab, esthetic dentistry, basic pharmacology, pediatric dentistry, oral radiology, and we are continuing experiential learning, operative, and oral pathology, as well as seeing patients most Tuesdays in either operative or preventive clinics. We will be starting anesthesia and pain control 2 in March and Endodontics lab and lecture in April. They keep us pretty busy but it is going well. I will post some pictures below of some restorations I have done this year in the sim clinic.

I think that pretty much covers everything that has happened so far this year. I’m hoping to keep things up to date from now on.

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With this restoration, I took the picture before I put in the proximal boxes on the mesial and distal to take care of the unsupported enamel. These teeth have simulated caries in them. You normally would not leave that ML cusp unsupported like that but the tooth had more caries than it should have so I had to just follow the simulation. I also cleaned up the distal of that cusp before restoring with dispersalloy.

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I don’t have a before picture but this was a simulated class IV. We were practicing with different opacities of material to match a real tooth. It looks a little too translucent because the adjacent teeth are solid plastic but it was actually correct.

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This restoration was a 3 surface composite. The picture of the prep is after I built up the mesial and distal contacts and then removed the matrices to finish.

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This is from fixed pros II. We did a prep for an all ceramic crown in fixed pros I, scanned it with Cerec and had the crowns milled in the lab at school. We just got them back today to do the external characterization. The instructors showed us a finished crown to mimic since we couldn’t copy the adjacent teeth. I also added in a few craze lines for fun.

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