One Year Down

Well, I’m back. Sorry it has been so incredibly long since my last post. Second semester was extremely busy.

So it’s official. I’ve finished my first year of dental school. We took our last final on June 20th and we are on summer break until August 25th. I guess I should insert the obligatory “1/4th a dentist” comment here. A lot happened over the last several months. I’ll give the sparknote version here.

We had anatomy and histology classes that were kind of combined into one super class we called Gristo (Gross anatomy + histo). The tests were taken at the same time but the grades were split up at the end. Anatomy was tough. It was definitely more detail oriented than I was used to. Luckily the professors for these classes were fantastic. They really engaged us in the material and were really willing to adjust the class as we went when something didn’t work or if something really worked well. We finished these classes up in May making for a very intense week. We had a lecture test in operative the Friday before and then Monday we had cumulative lab tests in anatomy and histology and then cumulative lecture tests in both on Wednesday. That week is a blur. We capped it off with our white coat ceremony Friday night of that week. This ceremony is basically a symbolic rite of passage where we gain clinical privileges. After that week, we felt that we really earned those white coats.

Another class we had was occlusion. In the lab portion of this class, we made a set of complete dentures to fit our mannequins in the sim clinic. This class was challenging but once we got the hang of the procedures and techniques, it could be fun sometimes depending on the day and whether or not someone accidentally walked off with your mixing bowl and spatula in the bench lab. Below is a picture in the middle of setting the denture teeth and another of the final dentures I turned in. We finished them up and polished them after they came back from the lab.

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We finished up Operative in June. This class was one of my favorites. I love working with my hands. I’ve carved and used small rotary instruments for years so the lab aspect was just fun for me. The lab practicals went really well and my skills improved substantially throughout the class. Here is a picture of an amalgam restoration of a simulated buccal cusp fracture of a mandibular second premolar, before final polishing. I was pretty happy with how it turned out. The picture quality isn’t that great here but you get the idea.

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I can’t forget about Anesthesia. This was just a short 1 credit course that we didn’t start until around April. It went over the general techniques of the injections, the types of anesthetics, anatomy, and things like that. This class also had the dreaded “stab lab” where we took turns injecting each other with anesthetic. Everyone got nine shots on one side of their mouth. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds but it also wasn’t pleasant. We had a resident as an instructor for our group. He really walked us through everything so there wasn’t anything to worry about. We all had to have our BP taken before we could be injected to make sure we were all healthy. There were some very high BPs that morning. Everyone was a little nervous. Of course right after that was a lunch and learn that served Chick-fil-a. It was almost hard to enjoy the chicken sandwich with half of my face and tongue numb but I managed without too much cheek and tongue biting.

We had preventive dentistry where we have our first patient experiences. We start by working on one another doing cleanings and charting. Then in May we had our first two patient experiences. We could either have random recall patients from the patient pool or we could bring in family members. I had a random patient and a family member. Both appointments went well. Working with patients really solidified in my mind that I’m joining the right profession.

At the beginning of May we started oral radiology 1. It was just a general overview of anatomy landmarks and procedures. We did get to have patient contact at the end of the class in June. We were split into groups and assigned a certain morning where we would make all of the radiographs needed for that morning. It was pretty fun. Before that we had to practice placing the digital receptor on each other so we could remember how uncomfortable it is when we place them in patients. We also practiced making radiographs of skulls to make sure we were getting the placement right.

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Well, that is about all I have to talk about for classes at the moment. I’m waiting for my last two grades to be posted online. The deadline is July 9th but all but two are up there now. I’m pretty confident that I know my grades in these two courses so I can say that I’m happy with how the semester went. Lets hope I don’t forget it all before this fall. My wife and I are taking the summer off for some much needed relaxation. There are several beaches near by where we have already spent several days canoeing, reading, and fishing. I have the fairly painful sunburn to prove it. Other than that, I’m doing some work for my grandpa cleaning and recovering antique binoculars that he collects and restores for some extra money. (This is actually good practice for improving dexterity I’ve found). I’m also casually reviewing some things from the school year like dental anatomy and things like that so it stays fresh.

That’s all for now. I hope everyone is enjoying the summer!