A Displaced Wisdom Tooth

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Saw this amazing and somewhat terrifying case today during my external rotation at the oral surgeons office. The wisdom tooth can be seen in the X-ray just floating above all the other teeth. Apparently it was pushed up there by an abscess into the maxillary sinus which is why it didn’t cause any pain but just congestion for this poor man. But this doesn’t happen overnight. This man hadn’t seen the dentist until he was 19 and it was an easy spot for his dentist to overlook…although it should have been caught early on before it got this bad. I think the patient was something in his late 30s. The doctor said that the abscess would have a grape-like feel to it as it pushes into the sinus space with epithelial tissue growing inside it with nowhere else for it to go.

About two years ago (wow I can’t believe it’s been that long!) when I was working in another oral surgery office before dental school we saw a case just like this and the oral surgeon went in, drained the abscess, and removed the tooth. It was kind of a mess with black and brownish colored pus coming out of the abscess. Shadowing today was very eventful and reminded me of the days before dental school when I worked in the office. Plus, I’m starting to get to know specialists in the area to whom I may eventually refer patients out to if I ever join a practice in town.

I also asked the doctor what he would suggest in terms of making it easier for the oral surgeon. He said to be proactive. For example, he said many kids who need their wisdom teeth removed don’t get them removed until they have pain or when the surgery would be more drastic due to more developed roots, etc which can lead to a higher risk of complications. He said it’s much better to tell the patient that the surgery could wait rather than telling the patient that it’s too late.

Behind the Scenes

Decided to surprise everyone with an impromptu photoshoot. We’ve been working on Class I’s and II’s on our typodonts and some extra credit caries removal on real, extracted teeth. This semester has generally been a challenge because we have some many projects and so many deadlines. Here are some of my happy classmates during a slightly less stressful week plus a couple of our row instructors:

A Guide to Getting into Dental School

This is a (LONG) guide based on my own personal experience getting into dental school as well as advice from other students and mentors including tips for the personal statement, the DAT, letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities, and the interview process.

Personal Statement

Hopefully you’ve had some thoughts on the personal statement. Knowing where to start is always the hardest part especially if you’re not someone who is used to “bragging” about yourself. But this is a little different. The personal statement is meant to highlight the important parts of your life that led you to the path of dentistry and to display why you would make a good dentist. Was it a specific incident that occurred while working in a volunteer clinic that broadened your life view? Was it the moment you realized what it really meant to be a leader? The personal statement is about the human connection and the details that are often excluded from a resume.

Another thing to emphasize are hobbies that may indicate that you have fine motor skills since this is an important part of dentistry! In mine, I talked about how, in my free time, I spread and pin butterflies. This is just one example, but if you have other hobbies this can range from piano to painting, knitting or whatever. And of course, you could choose to Continue reading “A Guide to Getting into Dental School”

What Happens if You Don’t Get That Interview?

If December 1st rolls around and you still haven’t received that interview then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to reach out to admissions. Oftentimes, this is crucial for those applying to schools out-of-state if you cannot schedule an appointment to meet with the admissions director/coordinator (which I always recommend). My advice comes from mentors and other students who have done the same. The goal is to make sure admissions “sees” you. Schools base a lot of their decision process not solely on grades and academic success but also on the chances that the candidates they select will accept their offer. So if you don’t reach out to them they may otherwise have no idea that you really wanted to go to their school.

Here was my email to the admission coordinator for school X that I sent in November 2015.

Dear Dr. X, Continue reading “What Happens if You Don’t Get That Interview?”

The Best Bday Present

Wow it’s been exactly a year since I found out about my acceptance into dental school on December 1, 2015! It was probably one of the best birthday presents I could ever ask for. I remember it like it was yesterday.

I had applied to 16 schools, received 6 interviews and 5 acceptances (I didn’t attend one of the interviews because the plane ticket was a little pricey and it was a bit lower on my list). My interviews started in September (in order) – University of New England, University of Indiana, University of Detroit Mercy, Tufts, and University of Michigan. I always had my eyes on Michigan for a number of reasons.

The day of I remember waking up at 5AM and immediately checking my email. I found my first acceptance from Indiana University. I was happy to know that at least I would be a dentist somewhere somehow! But of course I was still anxious. I really couldn’t stop myself so the next thing I did was log in to student doctor network (not always the best idea) and prowl around Continue reading “The Best Bday Present”

Tooth ID

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And this is how first year dental students study tooth anatomy. My classmates and I have been getting in groups and practicing IDing the plastic teeth AND real teeth (yes, we get a small container of these). I’ve been taking out all the teeth in the typodont and practicing by guessing the number based on the characteristics I see and then making sure I’m right by placing them back into the typodont. When I first started this, I thought it would be impossible to identify every single tooth without it’s relative position in the mouth but gradually we started to get the hang of it. You start noticing small things that are generally consistent. They teach characteristics specific to each tooth to help with ID, but in real teeth, there is so much variation. A lot of the stuff you have to figure out on your own. Aspects, such as size, is not always a reliable method to ID teeth because the tooth may be Continue reading “Tooth ID”

Ankylosis

Yesterday in the oral surgery clinic we had a rather long case involving a woman in her 30s who had to have all four wisdom teeth removed, a biopsy from a cyst, as well as an implant for #11. Everything went great. Although this was one of the first times I had seen such a huge chunk of the maxilla crack off with the tooth. Apparently the fusion of tooth with bone is called ankylosis. I was so surprised when I saw the oral surgeon pull this out of the patient’s mouth. At first I thought the tooth was rather large then upon looking at it I could see the porous bone that had cracked off from being fused to tooth #1.

Working in the oral surgery clinic is amazing. I am so excited for all that I am learning because although this is different than general dentistry, this should give me a head start on information I will learn and experiences to come later while I am in dental school.