[Dental] Dam It + We’re not in the Swamp Anymore!

Our class Vice President, Ari, having fun and showing off her great work in sim lab!

[Dental] Dam It:

Class of 2021 is going strong and learning a LOT. We’ve been introduced to rubber dams—sheets of rubber that isolate the tooth you’re working on. They help prevent contamination during a restoration, protect adjacent tooth structure and keep the patient safe from accidentally swallowing objects (like a crown or clamp).

It seems simple. Just punch holes into the sheet and wrap it around each tooth, using floss to push the dam between the teeth. But let me tell you… I struggled SO much with this! I had to recruit my Big, Andrew, to teach me how to get my dam to stay in place because I just wasn’t catching on fast enough in class. Ripping the dam a dozen times was irritating, but it turns out many of my classmates were having a tough time, too. Our professors claim we will be able to complete dam placement in five minutes one day, but I’m staying skeptical. My personal record is 20 minutes….

Drilling and Filling:

Once we got a better hold on rubber dams, the real work began. Last semester, our psychomotor exams consisted of building up and sculpting teeth out of wax to learn dental anatomy. This semester, we’re putting our hands to the test by simulating procedures we will be doing in the real world. There are six major classifications of fillings we follow when treating dental decay based on location. Our first psychomotor required us to perform a Class V Restoration, meaning we prepared (drilled) a tooth close to the gum line and restored (filled) it with composite material.

In the real (clinical) world, we would be removing tooth structure that is decayed. In simulation lab, we are working on plastic teeth and are given specific dimensions (measured in millimeters) to stay within.

Below is what UFCD’s grading sheet would look like on a real psychomotor exam:

We’re not in the Swamp Anymore—Taking on Tallahassee:

In February, I was honored to join dental students and dental professionals from all over Florida who gathered in Tallahassee to speak with Florida Legislators for Dentist Day on the Hill. At Florida’s Capital, we heard about and discussed topics impacting the oral health of Floridians.

We represented not the republican nor the democratic party, but rather, we spoke on behalf of the “Tooth Party” and the Florida Dental Association (FDA). Our goals included supporting and bringing attention to solutions for the access to care problem in Florida.

How empowering it was to have our State Representatives and Senators listen to my smallvoice! Each gave me his or her full attention as I expressed my own story both as a future dentist and as a patient who has had to make countless phone calls and long drives to Medicaid providers to get my nephew to his appointments.

When I signed up for this opportunity, I thought I’d simply be spectating as older, wiser, and more experienced dentists took the lead. However, the FDA encouraged students to let our own voices shine and further cultured our passion for providing care to Floridians.


It wasn’t all business, though! I got to take my first visit to Florida State University and see how the Seminoles do it. I did get caught Gator chomping while touring…whoops!

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