Saturday, December 6, 2008

Loma Linda University

I toured Loma Linda Universities School of Dentistry in November with the predental club. I really enjoyed the tour of their campus. It is a religious private school of the Seventh Day Adventists.

The most prominent feature on their campus is the Good Samaritan statue located between the School of Dentistry and the Chapel. It visually tells the biblical story and serves as a reminder of the duty we all have to our fellow man.

They have a "sim" (simulation) lab full of practice mannequins. All of the mannequins are computerized, stuffed full of sensors! Each one allows training for different medical situations. We got to try out a simulation for intravenous insertion of a needle. We scored %54, not bad for a first try with no training!

Their campus also features an embryology museum with examples of fetuses in various stages. The most interesting specimens are the ones with deformities. Several examples of unseparated twins featured prominently. I kind of put my foot into my mouth when I asked about the church's position on abortion. Add that topic to the "off-limits" list for polite conversation! I just hope that I didn't hurt anyones feelings on that subject.

Their curriculum is lecture based, which is kind of a let down. I'm really interested in the PBL style, but I guess that I should curb my enthusiasm until I've experienced it firsthand!

An awesome feature of their curriculum is the service requirement. Periods are built into the schedule for service opportunities domestically and abroad. They have clinics set up all over the world to provide medical and dental service! and guess what?!?! one of their clinics is located in the Dominican Republic. I would love to go back and help "mi gente"!

The school itself features a large and busy clinic. They have people come from all over to receive first rate dental care in the clinic. They have a new lab for first year students that is nice, all of the standard features are included. Their lecture halls are dated, but have modern teaching conveniences added.

The staff was great, very helpful. The student from SDSU that met us there seemed very happy. The fourth year student was an interesting fellow, but he seemed equally as happy.

The yearly expenses for the school are a bargain (comparatively) at ~$55,000.

I loved this school, and I can't put my finger on exactly what it is that makes it so appealing. Maybe it's a combination of great people, a great goal (service) and a great campus.

They have a "Careers in Dentistry" workshop in July that I am definitely going to apply to. They will let us perform basic practice procedures in their new lab (waxing, etc.). The admissions officer said that the sky is the limit for the procedures that they will introduce.


The SDSU pre-dental club toured UCLA's Dental School in September. This was a real treat because UCLA does not offer tours of their Dental School. A person from the admissions office met with us for a few moments to discuss requirements and curriculum features. A 3rd year student then walked us through the facility.

Their labs were great, lots of equipment available for the students to learn on. Their clinic is expansive, with satellite clinics available for each of the specialties (Endodonics, Oral Surgery, etc.).

They do a lot of research at the school into various aspects of dentistry. The school is really geared towards that.

The school was great, and apparently they are implementing a new curriculum that utilizes Problem Based Learning. The old program was apparently too much for most students to handle, our tour guide said that you had to plan on failing certain tests to be able to study and pass others. The vacant look in the student's eyes spoke volumes about the demands placed on students.

All in all I liked the school.

USC Tour

The Pre-Dental club organized a tour of USC's Dental School. Their facilities are amazing. All of their labs are state of the art with the latest in equipment. All of the supplies are included in the student fees (~$75,000 per semester).

They are using a new teaching style that sounds very interesting, Problem Based Learning (PBL). In this approach students are teamed up into groups of about a dozen. Each group has one or more teachers to assist them in the process. Each group is given a case file featuring one or more problems. Solving the case file will require research in one or more disciplines (i.e. Biochemistry, Anatomy, etc.). The group then formulates a solution to the problem and submits it for review. The teacher reviews the solution with the group and gives corrections.

I was blown away by the quality of the school. I am really interested in the PBL approach as that's how i usually learn the most! Having an application for the knowledge really reinforces the information for me. I would love to attend this school.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Dr. Martinez (4.5hrs)

I met with my dentist today to ask for some time to shadow her. She was kind enough to meet me during her lunch break. She let me stay for the rest of the day!

Dr.M and I talked about a few aspects of her buisiness. We talked about the low number of dental schools and the difficulties in being accepted. She discussed the difficulties involved in owning your own practice and the patient records, accounting and personell duties involved. To help her keep track of expenditures she doesn't let any of the staff write checks. We also discussed attracting new patients. She advertises very little because she believes that the best new patients are friends of old patients. Dr.M has a rewards system that she uses to encourage referrals.

I got to see:

1. A patient with a fistula on her gums. Looking at the x-rays no damage was evident besides the inflammation. Dr. Martinez explained that this could be an early sign of a problem with the root of her tooth, or it could be a simple bacterial infection. Dr."M" carefully scoured and cleaned the area using dental picks and an ultrasonic water jet. She then irrigated the area with an antibacterial solution. Finally she inserted a powdered antibiotic between the gum and the tooth to discourage infection. She sent the patient home with an antibacterial mouthwash and will see the patient again.

2. Ground down teeth. Dr.M and I reviewed the file for a person with a grinding disorder. They had ground their teeth down flat. Dr.M showed me the extensive crown and veneer work that she did to bring the teeth back to a normal profile. Today the patient was only in for a checkup. During cleaning Dr. M found an area where the gum had receeded from the veneer leaving a ridge to collect debris. She cleaned the area, etched and primed the enamel and then installed a small filling into the area. The epoxy filling was interesting, it uses a UV curing process.

3. A ZOOM bleaching treatment. A patient received an enamel whitening today. The zoon treatment uses a strange contraption to mask off most of the lips and gums, sunscreen for the patients face, and a UV cured resist for the gums. The two part gel is then carfully place on the teeth and spread, then exposed to UV for 15 mins. The gel is then gently removed and a fresh batch is applied and exposed to UV again for 15 mins. This is done 4-5 times.

4. An emergency crown placement. A gent chipped a tooth and came in for an emergency fix. The old crown was removed from the tooth after the patient was anesthesized. A cast was then taken of that side of the mouth using two different rubberlike compounds and a tray. a very thick viscous material is used for the majority of the cast. a thinner lower viscosity casting material is used around the damaged tooth to capture more detail. I asked Dr.M about a powdered casting material that was used for Emily, she informed me that this was algaeset(?) which is normally only used for rough casts for braces and whatnot. After the casting the RDA cast and shaped a temporary crown, testing for fit several times during the process. A small plastic form was used at the beginning.

I really enjoyed watching Dr.M and her RDA work. I thought that mouths might gross me out, but I didn't have any problems with it. Watching the shaping of the crown was amazing, probably even more stunning to see the work that goes into the permanent crown.

It Begins...

I thought that starting this blog would be the easiest way of keeping track of the activities that I engage in for Pre-Dental Experience. Names will obviously be omitted for privacy concerns.

Ever since visiting USC on the 19th I've felt light I am behind the curve. I have kicked life into high gear though, loosing sleep but gaining momentum.