We’re back in the swamp! After taking November-December off school to get my life back on track, I returned to classes on January 2nd determined and with a clean slate.
For the first couple weeks, I felt like a puzzle piece. I felt like the puzzle piece that looks nearly the right shape and colors, but when you push it into place, it doesn’t quite fit. Since I’m only taking half a schedule—enrolled in Histology, Oral Health Management, Operative I and Cariology Lab—I’ve spent a decent amount of time alone while my classmates attend classes for Infectious Diseases, Physiology and Cariology Lecture in addition to the few I’m taking. But like all puzzle pieces, I belong somewhere in the picture and I’m surely finding my place at UFCD again. I have fantastic classmates and a close group that keeps me motivated. I nervously anticipated that someone would try to pry for old exam material but I’m happy to report that nobody did and that and everyone made my transition to Class of 2022 as comfortable as possible!
It’s hard to believe I was only gone for two months; studying didn’t come back as naturally as I expected and my first exam was below my usual performance. I’ve since gotten my groove back though and am even excelling in Operative I. It is so refreshing to feel confident in my abilities. I think my hand skills are better than ever, and I’m ready to put my money where my mouth is. ?
Having only half a schedule has left me with some extra time on my hands. While I spend most of that extra time in sim lab and still settling some family matters, my professors have encouraged me to work with them on other activities to feel better fulfilled at school.
I’m now dipping into research for the first time since undergrad which I’ll have more to talk about in our next post since I’m still in the earliest stages of involvement. I’m anxious but I’m looking forward to it.
As a result of keeping busy, I also recently fell in love with a program called We Care, where I get to volunteer as an assistant to other UF student dentists at our local Health Department providing free care to patients on Wednesday nights. One night, my mentor pushed me to do my very first Scaling and Root Planing (SRP) procedure myself and it was incredible! I was petrified making sure I was gentle and comprehensive… it’s not the same when you do it on a plastic mouth. My patient was a trooper as I stumbled with the best way to hold the mirror and reach the very back teeth. Awkward but thrilling!
About that Dental Procedure:
You’ve probably heard of an SRP…so what is it?
An SRP is what you may have heard referred to as a “deep cleaning” by some offices. We use a high-frequency vibrating handpiece (the Cavitron) to blast away calculus from the teeth and metal hand instruments to gently scrape away smaller pieces from the root of the tooth.
What can I expect with an SRP?
You can expect to feel a bit of sensitivity when all the calculus comes out from under the gums like little splinters, but the discomfort is temporary and can be followed up with a salt water rinse and a little ibuprofen. As the patient, it can seem scary if you notice blood or feel your teeth wiggle after your preventive care appointment but this is no cause for panic!
Here’s how it works:
When plaque and calculus get under your gums, they harbor bacteria that your immune system tries to attack. As a defense mechanism, your gums become inflamed and might bleed with even very light probing or flossing. Getting out the bacteria with an SRP or Prophylaxis at the dentist and keeping it clean with daily brushing and flossing will lead to less bleeding over time. Healthy gums shouldn’t bleed but it will take persistence in your daily routine to get them to a healthy state!
If your teeth feel a bit “loose” right after an SRP, it has to do with what we call the “periodontal ligament”. There are fibers that attach your bone, teeth and gums to keep teeth sturdy and in place. When there is a lot of calculus and bacteria in the way, some of those fibers attach to the calculus instead of your tooth! Removing the bad stuff helps those fibers reattach to your tooth as they heal, so your teeth will be much stronger and sturdier than before your SRP.
It’s River Oak Dental’s philosophy to make each patient feel comfortable and comfort often comes from understanding how and why we might choose a specific procedure for you. We take pride in discussing the ins and outs of your customized treatment plan to ensure a healthy and happy smile!
National Dental Board Examination (NDBE)
Since I have the least rigorous schedule I’ll ever have in dental school right now, I’ve been entertaining the idea of taking my NDBE Part I early.
The NDBE is required for licensure in the US and it comes in two parts. Part I is about 400 questions and is taken before students enter clinics, typically at the end of D2 year. It thoroughly tests the basic sciences with an emphasis on dental medicine to determine if we are qualified to begin treating patients. I just applied, so I’m crossing my fingers that the Deans will approve me to take it early.
To study, I’m using B & B Dental and NDBE First Aid—I’ll let you know how it goes!