There is a lot to fill you in on…

My wife and I had a son on April 7, 2015. We named him James Martin. He was 9lbs 4oz and 21.5 inches long. He is happy and healthy and getting to know him and learning how to be a father has been absolutely great.


Here he is at 3 or 4 days old.

James Stroller

And here he is almost 5 months old. Just chillin’ on a walk with mom.

I started endodontics two days after my son was born. I actually had to leave the hospital, go to class and then come back right after to bring my wife and son home. Endo was pretty intense and they didn’t really tolerate missing class. I’m sure in my situation I could have but missing the first day would have really put me behind. Overall, I think I learned more in endo and had a better practical knowledge of the information than most of the other classes I have taken so far. It was really tough and stressful at times. They gave us a manual with basically everything we need to know and they expected you to have the entire thing memorized. If they asked you a question and you didn’t know, they would make you look it up and come back to ask you later. And if you ask them a question that was in the textbook or the manual, they wouldn’t answer because we could find it ourselves. This was annoying at the time and added to the stress of the simulation clinic sessions but it made me really learn the material. We had weekly quizzes, sometimes more than one per week, so we were constantly studying for it. By the time the final came around, there wasn’t much studying that was needed.

We also had our intro to implants course at the end of the year. We learned about the different types of implants, we modified dentures that we had made the previous year to become implant-retained dentures. We also got some practice making a surgical guide for implant placement. The class didn’t take up too much of our time after hours really.

Another class worth mentioning was removable pros. In this class we learned all about designing removable partial dentures. I didn’t enjoy the class itself all that much but the material was interesting. It is like a puzzle when you’re trying to figure out what clasps to use, what major and minor connectors, and which teeth to use for support. We also learned the tooth modifications needed for removable partial dentures.

Now we can fast-forward to third year. Our third year is mostly clinic based. The year is split up into two halves. One half is called superblock and the other is clinical rotations. In superblock, you balance your time between endo, perio, and pros. This is a pretty intense time in your dental school career. Endo and perio, you are treating patients and scheduling out their treatment as it takes multiple appointments to finish one root canal or a scaling a root planning (which is all you do in perio except for the occasional assisting a graduate student or faculty in a surgery). In pros, you are scheduled patients to fill your requirements (a certain number of crowns, an implant patients, a certain number of full and partial dentures) and you are responsible for treatment planning and scheduling everything for this patient. It is a ton of paperwork and just as much clinical and lab work. If people fail superblock, it is usually because of pros. Half the class starts the year in superblock and the other half starts with the other clinical rotations. I have superblock second semester, and I’m starting in the oral surgery rotation. This rotation is 5 weeks and consists mostly of pulling teeth. We have to get 25 teeth pulled and two IV sedations but from what I’ve been told, people usually end up with 50-70 teeth. It could be one, two, or 32 teeth. If you do a full mouth extraction, there is also usually alveoloplasty involved (recontouring the alveolar ridge for dentures). We lay flaps for teeth that can’t be pulled easily and have the opportunity to use a handpiece to remove bone around teeth to remove them and place sutures after the surgery is done. It’s a lot of fun once you get past being scared since you have never done anything like this before.

My next rotation will be oral diagnosis and radiology for 5 weeks. Every new patient that comes to the school needs to be screened and treatment planned. That happens in oral diagnosis. Any radiographs that are needed are made and interpreted in radiology.

From there I will go to operative and pediatrics for 10 weeks. Operative is basically the same thing I did last year but with much more extensive restorations that are much closer to the pulp. I’m really looking forward to this rotation. The pediatrics rotation I’m not looking forward to all that much. I don’t have much experience dealing with little kids much less with other people’s kids. I have heard that patient management is tough. In this rotation, you are given professional pediatric assistants though, so that should help. Hopefully it will turn out to be fun. This rotation will take me into February and then I will start superblock.


One Semester Down, Seven to Go

Hey everyone. Sorry for the long absence. Dental school is just as busy as everyone tells you. I have probably had opportunities to write through the semester but I have been a little lazy in my free time. After so much studying, when I get a break I kind of check out.

Ok…where do I even begin? I made it through my first semester of dental school unscathed. I ended up getting mostly A’s and a couple B’s. I’m perfectly ok with that. I don’t want to specialize and those are respectable grades anyway. The study schedule I wrote about kind of went out the window early on first semester. It was a great plan overall, but like I said earlier, I’m kind of lazy sometimes so I eased into a slightly more lax study routine. Once we got into the swing of classes, we had a few tests or quizzes most weeks. Studying ahead as I had previously planned became difficult and I just studied for the tests as they came. It worked well for me.

Dental school is definitely hard and a lot of work. Before I started, I was told the worst kind of horror stories about it like, “you better get used to not seeing your wife” or “I hope you enjoyed sleeping in undergrad because you won’t for the next four years.” Obviously those warnings were exaggerated. I kind of let them get to me though. I thought these would be the worst four years of my life and I would regret every minute of it. Since I started school thinking like this, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of free time I have. It isn’t much most of the time, and nowhere near the amount of free time I had in undergrad but it is more than I was expecting. I have time every night to spend with my wife, watch a little TV or do something not related to school. There were two, maybe three days this semester where I literally had no free time because I was nervous about a test the next day. I think I have test anxiety sometimes and I thought that these might be the tests that I bomb and prove that I don’t belong in dental school. That was a slight overreaction. They went fine. I usually only study until around 10pm but I studied until around 11:30 those days. Usually the night before the test I study until 10, go to bed around 11:15 and then I wake up at 6am, take the 6:40 bus to school and study until the test, which last semester was almost always in the morning. That is what worked for me.

As for classes, we recently started operative dentistry in the simulation clinic after dental anatomy ended, which is great. That is where we practice restorations on fake and pulled teeth. It’s nice having a class that is so focused on dentistry unlike the basic sciences that are just a repeat of undergrad. Using the handpiece and burs is pretty fun. I’ve always really been into art so it just feels like an art class to me.

I’ve officially taken my last physiology and biochem classes, which is a great feeling. We are moving on to anatomy and histology this January. We will be working with cadavers, which I did in undergrad so nothing new there. In undergrad though we kept the face covered. This time, we focus on the head and neck. I’m not looking forward to that part. I’ve never had histology but it shouldn’t be too bad. We start two or three other classes throughout the semester but I haven’t looked for enough ahead to know what those are.

That is all I have for now. Thanks for reading! Hopefully many of you got acceptances in December! If not, there is still plenty of time. Good luck to those getting ready to take the DAT!