Saturday, April 13, 2013

Well a lot has happened and I haven't been posting any of it!!! Concluded my adventures at MWU and have now moved on to an AEGD with the Air Force. Here is a video of the graduation highlighting a patient of mine.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Armamentarium. That's right. You have to say it slow and really emphasize the vowels or you will get tripped up as you say it. "Armamentarium" is one of the great words I have learned in dental school. Some other good words I have become familiar with in the past two and a half years are "spatulate", "recapitulate", "debubbalize", "marginate", "discoid-cleoid" and my favorite periodontal pathogen that took me some time to be able to say "actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans". If you are not familiar with the term, "armamentarium", you can easily substitute it for the synonym "stuff".

I have acquired some good gear thus far to add to my armamentarium and have realized that sometimes a good clinician is only as good as his gear. Some of the components of my armamentarium are meaningful to me and have proven their worthiness. Other instruments are more valuable to others. I will always remember the common phrase uttered by our various professors, "If I were stranded on an island, and I could only have one instrument, it would be my .....". The "blank" in that phrase would routinely change from thing to thing depending on the lecture and the dental specialty that the specific professor was identified with. One of our periodontists said he would do just fine on this "island" with just a perio probe. Another professor would take along his caries detector. Another one of our our faculty members would survive with his digital camera and finely tuned ability at capturing the "befores" and "afters" of his restorative work. I am sure that if there weren't any lawyers on this island, he may opt to change the camera for something else.

For me, at this point in my dental career as a new student-doctor, I would take my loupes to this island. I first acquired my loupes at the beginning of my first year of dental school. I have grown so accustomed to using them, that the one time I didn't have them, I felt somewhat handicapped in my ability to know what was going on, particularly at the fractions of millimeters which is what dentists are always dealing with. Luckily I was only doing a root canal on a previously extracted tooth on a bench-top just for practice. My loupes were safely stored in their box in my locker across the street at the dental clinic. I was really just too lazy to walk over to the clinic in the hot Arizona sun to retrieve them just to aid my vision in cutting my access opening. It is crazy to me that the use of loupes has not widely been used in dentistry until a relatively short time ago.

These bad boys are my 4.5x expanded field loupes from Designs For Vision. I can see those enamel prisms glistening under a bath of bond when I wear these guys.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Dental Treatment

Dental treatment. Dental treatment is not always expressed in terms of minimally invasive restorative options or delivering the patient from physical pain. Today I witnessed dental treatment of a different kind. I suppose you could argue that it wasn't dental treatment at all, it just happened to be treatment and we just happened to be at a dental clinic.

Today my partner Mike and I were scheduled for an initial exam on a new patient to the clinic. This is common as we are a brand new school. All of our patients are new. This was an afternoon appointment, right after lunch. I was doing the finishing touches of putting the protective barriers on the dental equipment in the operatory when I spotted Mike assisting our patient down the long aisle of dental chairs. The man was elderly, his shirt was carefully tucked into his neatly pressed slacks which were held in place by a tightly cinched fanny pack. Mike stood by his side as he slowly and carefully walked past the gloved and masked students attending their patient's needs. The first thing I noticed about this man was the black ball cap with the US Marines emblem on it he was so proudly wearing. The man was frail, probably not much more than a hundred pounds, he wore a pair of worn out glasses which he had carefully crafted bends in both arms which allowed the glasses to slide past the hearing aids which he wore in both ears. His long sleeves hid the age spots which certainly were there, but his arthritic fingers didn't lie.

This man was friendly, right off the bat. He proudly boasted of his almost sixty year marriage. His odd yet bright humor shone through the wrinkles that certainly told of harder times. He had little money, and came to see what we could do to fit him with a more stable set of dentures. While listening to tales of The Great Depression and Eastman Kodak's Dental Dispensary (where he had his tonsils removed) Mike continued to discuss treatment options. I began to work up a crude estimate on the computer so he could analyze his options for the treatment he was seeking.

Not more than a couple minutes passed, and I heard the last bit of an experience he was telling Mike which he had encountered while fighting in the Pacific. His military experience took him through Guadalcanal and Peleliu, which if you know anything about WWII, you know the significance of those islands and the battles that were fought there. Before I go on, you have to understand that Mike and I couldn't have been a more perfect audience for this man. We had just finished watching a miniseries, "The Pacific", which actually documented the experiences of the Marines 1st Division through the Pacific. We have both read several books on the conflict in the Pacific and have spent hours on the History Channel learning about what the Marines, including this man, had gone through. Maybe it was that his words fell on attentive ears which eased him into unlocking the doors which held back his suppressed emotions and feelings. I am glad he trusted us enough to share his experiences.

We had a good amount of time blocked out for this appointment and it was the last one of the day and Mike and I took advantage of this relic which was sitting in our dental chair. We listened and listened as he shared and shared. Our patient was deeply appreciative of our willingness to listen to him try to articulate the emotions that came as his mind flipped back to the pages of his life's story; clinging to coral boulders while being shelled by the Japanese and combat at it's ugliest. I felt it a privilege to listen. Several times I could see tears well up in his eyes as he resurrected images, scenes, and emotions that he was feeling 70 years ago. I could only imagine what that was like. He shared some experiences, and his expressions led me to believe there were some that were still too hard to share. "If you don't talk about it, you'll start to get crazy" he said. Sharing his experiences with us was a way he would cope. "I bought a book years ago on the Marines 1st Division and its history. I open it up and read a little when I feel brave enough to." he said.

It just so happened that one of my classmates, who served as a marine, was not too far off. I waved him over to come and meet our patient. There is a bond, or a brotherhood perhaps, that exists amongst those who have served in the military. When my friend approached, we told our patient that our fellow classmate had served in the marines 1st division as well. This elderly patient, stood to his feet from the dental chair and gave our classmate a handshake which quickly turned into a hug. It wasn't a normal hug, but the kind of hug that brothers share. They weren't strangers. It was interesting to see the frail and elderly patient juxtaposed with the young and tall student. Separated by generations, yet still closely connected. I admire that.

The time came for our patient to leave. Although no dental treatment was given, I believe our patient had received considerable treatment. He got out of his chair, and said with all sincerity, "I'll never forget this for as long as I live". Mike assisted him out of the chair. The Marine straped on his large fanny pack and made a funny relation to strapping on his gunbelt and .45. I watched Mike escort him back down the hallway where they'd ride the elevator up to the main floor and then out the main doors to the parking lot.

Like the patient, I don't think I'll ever forget that appointment. I have always admired those who fought in WWII, and the bravery and courage they had. Tom Brokaw termed this generation "The Greatest Generation". I am always pleased to run into those from the greatest generation. It was truly a different era. In the past two years of my dental schooling experience we were frequently reminded that "there is a patient connected to those teeth, don't forget!". It's an obvious concept but it doesn't really hit you until you get to clinic and really listen to the patients' concerns and stories.

I hope this patient continues to get the treatment he needs, wherever he can get it. On a smaller scale, I hope we can provide him with a more stable denture. He deserves it. After all, those of the greatest generation are getting harder and harder to find.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

MWU Dental Institute

Here is our very legitimate sign in front of our building. It does the job for now.

A shot taken of the south end of the 3 story, 100k square foot clinic from the top of the parking structure.

Here is a shot of the reception area where we will greet our patients.

Here is the student break room.

Yesterday marked the day that we have all been waiting for. We, the inaugural class of 2012 have made the transition from classroom to clinic, mostly. The Summer quarter has just begun which means we have flown the nest and landed in a slightly larger nest right across the street. Here we have a little more room to stretch our wings.... ok, enough with the bird analogies.

Because we are in the inaugural class, we have not had the opportunity to have a gradual transition into the clinic as most underclassmen have at other dental schools. Also, because our clinic has just been finished, we have not had the chance to sit behind real-live patients in the dental chair. We can drill and fill with the best of them on our "dexters", or simulators, but we had a good time working on eachother.

We started the day at 7am in the large classroom where we had a briefing for the days activities with the clinic director and college dean. We received our bay assignments for the day and were broken down into groups of three students per operatory. We got suited up in all of our riot gear (just our Personal Protective Equipment) of gloves, gowns, masks, loupes, lights and went to work. Some students implemented the paper-rock-scissor ritual to decide on who would fill the "dentist", "assistant", and "patient" positions. We would all get a turn as an assistant, patient, and dentist throughout the day.

First things first.... We role played and entered each other's medical history, consent forms, and dental findings into Axium, our practice management software. We then jumped into perio charting and did a little scaling with all of the hygiene instruments as well as the ultrasonic scaler.

I played the role of assistant first followed by patient, and then dentist. It was a good experience getting into the clinic and practicing interacting with patients and getting the feel of the clinic and the operatories.

We have about two more weeks of clinic experience/surgery and medical lectures to go before we go full time in the clinic.

Another cool thing we did was we learned how to place sutures in our oral surgery course. Rather than draw straws and practice on each other, we were given pig feet to practice on.

Because we are starting to work in the clinic, we have to make sure we are up to date on all of our immunizations etc. I have been getting nasty "non-compliance" emails from the principal's office for about a year now. I figured my chance of contracting TB was pretty low while sitting in the lecture hall for all of second year so didn't pay too much attention to it. Our dean sent out an email saying we couldn't start in the clinic unless we were all up-to-date on our stuff, so I went to the CVS drugstore across the street where they have a little mini-clinic and found I wasn't the only non-compliant dental student at MWU. There were several of us getting our last minute boosters and TB tests done.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I haven't forgotten you.

Ok, so it's 1:00am and October now. Been kind of slacking on keeping this blog updated with what's been going on but because it's 1am I am going to keep it short.

School has been in session for 6 weeks and a lot has been going on. I will say that 2nd year at MWU is much much better than the 1st year. We have a lot more time off, no more basic science exams every week and we finaly get to learn how to be dentists! We spend a lot of time up in the simulation clinic working on our preparations and restorations.

When we are not in the sim clinic drillin and fillin, we are in the lecture hall for our Oral Health Science lecture series. Sprinkled in througout the week are a few hours of Pharmacology, not too bad.

Okay, that's all for now. I'm going to post pictures of some recent projects and explain them a little bit.

Just for my own curiosity, anyone who happens upon this blog, please sign in so I can see whether or not people actually read my writings. Whether by blog is alone in the vast space of blogland, it matters not to me, it's just a way for me to journalize my time at MWU. If you are a potential MWU applicant and have questions or anyone that has any questions about what we are about at MWU, feel free to ask any questions, I'll try my best to answer.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


So one of these teeth is not like the other..... What is it?? Fusion of the mandibular right lateral incisor and canine (QR fusion). This picture is of my cousin's little girl. My cousin came up to me at a family party and said, "Look at her teeth, I can't floss between them!" I was excited the moment I saw it because I had just had a course on dental anomalies and I knew what it was. It is pretty cool when you are a first year dental student and you get opportunities to apply what you learned in the class room to a more clinical setting. Street Cred....

Anyways, "Fusion" is the union of two tooth buds during their development way before the teeth poke through the gums. You can see in the image how it appears the lateral incisor and the canine kind of grew into each other during development. This should not be confused for "gemination" which is when a tooth bud partially splits during development resulting in a large/wide tooth, frequently with a vertical line running inciso-apically. The two anomalies can look very similar. To determine if it is gemination or fusion, you need to know how many teeth should be in the mouth, you can tell how there should be a canine and a lateral incisor between that molar and the central incisor. This tells us that two teeth merged. Pretty cool huh? Well I ran this photo by a professor at school and he did not think there were any implications of abnormalities that would present in the permanent dentition. In otherwords, she'll lose the tooth, permanent teeth will grow in and everything should be good. So the real question is when she looses the tooth, does she get double payment from the tooth fairy? You decide...

1 Year Down

So I must first apologize to all of my closet followers who check my blog from time to time because I have been really lazy at updating. A lot has happened since March when I last posted. In a nutshell, we finished up the most intense quarter of the year which included a lot of head and neck anatomy, cadaver lab, basic science classes, NBDE prep, and a few waxing projects. We had some awesome weather and had a Luau, lots of pork prepared by authentic Hawaiians.... from Utah! (thanks Pono and Martin).
I'll admit I did get pretty burnt out at the finish, I'm very glad first year is over although it did fly by. I am glad that at MWU CDM we have a very tough first year. I think that by doing this, we set the bar high in the first year and get us ready for the next three. At glancing at next years schedule, we will have A LOT less time in the much-loved "Auditorium 5" and much more time in the sim clinic doing a whole slew of operative projects. Being in the inaugural class, we are punching through many barriers, the one that is always on the forefront is time. We need our clinic to be finished so we can do some of our operative work such as "shooting each other", and by "shooting" I mean shoving needles into each others faces and trying to block all them maxillary and mandibular branches of our beloved Trigeminal nerve CN V. I won't lie, I'm a little nervous but strangely excited at the same time. So our clinic is scheduled to be completed early to mid March. I think that the accreditation committee is scheduled to come mid March to do a walk through and give us the "OK" to start doing some dentistry in the clinic. Hopefully building goes as planned and we finish by the deadline.

By the way, did you know that MWU Glendale campus is a sanctuary for all sorts of wildlife? I'll have to make a post about this some other time but we have wild javalina running willy-nilly around the western part of campus in the evenings, ducks that migrated in from somewhere, coyotes, and a strange black one-eyed ferrel cat that lives around the on-campus housing. This all has nothing to do with what I was shooting for originally by this post but I just wanted to throw that out there for all the students coming here next year.

SO....... now what do I do that I have been DONE with school for the past 5 days? I'll tell you what I should be doing, studying for boards. I thought I'd give myself somewhere around 5 days off to do whatever the heck I wanted (which included putting lots of miles on the road bike, catching up on my favorite shows via, mid-day naps, enjoying a study-free weekend and sleeping in). I have been somewhat surprised that I am getting a little bored though, not having the intense structure that I just left. I thought I would at least take a full week of therapy to "detox" from the hyperstudyoma that had metastasized beyond regional lymph nodes (bad joke). I am going to hit the board prep HARD starting this afternoon.

I cannot believe how fast the fist year flew by, it was crazy. It's great to have finished the fist year with so many awesome classmates. MWU CDM students and faculty are pretty cohesive and I feel that after a year of being together we have all become like family. Excited for next year!

Monday, March 30, 2009

The Other Side of Dental School: Charity Rides and Prom

Well I have decided to come back to the blog and write a little bit on what has been going on in the life of a first year dental student at the glorious Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine.

First off, I have been somewhat cognisant of "blog worthy" material since the last few posts I have made and have noticed that the longer I am in dental school, the less frequently "blog worthy" material jumps out at me. I think this is because a norm has been established and dental school has become the daily grind and has become somewhat mechanical. There have been a few new additions as we, the inaugural class of 2012, have traversed the threashold of the Spring quarter. Our weekly basic science schedule has been refreshingly modified where we have 2-3 science lectures a day mingled with cadaver lab. Rather than a test every Monday, we have our basic science tests every other Monday. We still have a lot of quizzes and exams and lab work to do with our other classes, just the brunt of our sciences has, in my opinion, become slightly more relaxed. We have also begun NBDE part I (National Board Dental Examination) preparation classes. Boards are on the horizon yet are somewhat shadowed by the dense jungle of Spring courses to really turn up the anxiety. I am registered to take the boards sometime in August and am sure I will be feeling the stress then.

Alright.... Well, right after we jumped back into our blue scrubs and headed back to school at the start of Spring quarter, the annual American Diabetic Assoiation sponsored Tour de Cure was knocking on the door. Dental School is not only book work and waxing, but it allows for good times and good activities as a class. I had signed up with some other students from the class, as well as the Dean (Dr. Simonsen) and some faculty to form a cycling team. The race was a lot of fun, and surprisingly not as tretcherous as I thought it was going to be. I road 64 miles (100km) in a time of 2hrs and 46min. I am going to try to beat this next year, we'll see what happens. Here are a few pics from race day.

Cycling: The only time stretchy pants are cool.

The finish! Turned out to be a beautiful day, perfect for a race.

Group shot of the team after the ride.

Just this last weekend we had the 1st annual Odontoblast social. First off, you need to understand what our class is all about. We are not all a bunch of stiffs that sit around and study all the time, but we are a tight bunch of friends that like to hang loose and have some good laughs. We are lucky to have a couple of awesome activities coordinators wihin our ranks who work hard to organize events where we can get together as a class and enjoy not digging around in a cadaver or waxing teeth. Now for those of you who are not aware of what an "odontoblast" is (I'm guessing just about everyone who reads this besides dental students or dentists) an "odontoblast" is a cell deep within the tooth that resides on the periphery of the pulp chamber. These little cells are responsible for laying down the hard layer of dentin, a calcified matrix, which lies just below the enamel on the tooth. Our "odontoblast" social was really a prom but we liked the name "odontoblast" becuase we are, at the end of the day, pretty nerdy. The party was complete with a red carpet, specialty cakes, disco ball, open bar, catered food, dancing, prom queen/king, limbo line and my favorite part, the awards. My favorite award went out to Dr. Simonsen who won the "My dean can kick your dean's ass"-award. It's funny cuz it's true. My beautiful wife accompanied me to the party.

Here are some pics from the 2009 Odontoblast.

Denty awards.

I almost forgot! Dr. Gilpatrick's mustache kicked the party into high gear. Even though it was fake, it was respectible nontheless and appropriate for mustache march, another annual activity here at MWU. Dr. Gilpatrick wins the award for longest and curliest 'stache.

Here is a shot of my truck, at least the back window. I bought this truck just about 2 months ago. It is perfect, it gets about 27 mpg which is great for my epic commute to school every day and I have a rack in the back to secure my bike if I am going to drive somewhere for a ride. Best of all, it's dependable. Toyota Power! I also equipped it with a Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine sticker to represent, afterall, I do live in hostile ASDOH territory! (they're 2 miles up the road).

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Just a quick video

Our class historian has made a video which highlights some of the things we have acccomplished thus far at MWUCDM. More to come later, for now, enjoy.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Funny Video

I found this video on a friend of mine's facebook. This kid is on his way home from the dentist. I am guessing he had some sort of surgical procedure performed where they had to use some sort of sedative approach to calm him down, not sure what it was, maybe some combo of nitrous oxide gas and a pill maybe? Maybe he was under general anaesthesia, I don't know. Nonetheless, it's pretty hilarious. I remember when I was waking up from my 3rd molar extractions and felt like this kid. My parents have the video to prove it. Maybe I'll find it and post my experience up here for comparison.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Waxing Some More

So the last project we completed at school was a waxing project which involved the premolars and first two molars on the mandibular left quadrant. It was a good project overall, I can see how waxing up teeth really helps you learn dental anatomy as well as the occlusive movements which are based on mandibular/maxillary/TMJ structure and anatomy. In biology classes, we are always told that structure determines function. In this project, we knew what the function was supposed to be so we worked backwards and created ideal structure.

The benefit of waxing on an articulator is that you can accurately place cusp tips and occlusal relationships, which can be pretty dynamic during mandibular protrusive, lateral/mediotrusive excursions. All of you predental students will know what I mean when you get into the lab.

Here is a picture which shows how a coffee table makes a great lab table on a Sunday night.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Air Force HPSP

I thought I'd write this post to explain what the HPSP is all about. I know when I was applying to school and started to look at the high costs of dental education, I supplemented my time researching schools with looking at ways to pay for school. HPSP stands for Health Professions Scholarship Program which is offered by three branches of military which are the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

Now there are many ways to get people or organizations to pay for your dental education. There are people in my class who come from undersearved states where their education is being payed for with the agreement that the student comes back to the state to practice for a given length of time. A popular rout in the south west is IHS, or Indian Health Services. Similar to many programs, the IHS trades tuition reimbersment for working on the reservation. I know that the National Guard also offers a tuition reimbersment to dental students who sign with them. There are many ways in which you can have your dental education expenses paid for other than out of your own pocket, these are the methods I am most familiar with. Of course, if you were one of those super applicants, you can always receive some sort of scholarship from the school to soften the blows.

I decided that I would apply for the Air Force HPSP. There are two ways to obtain the scholarship. First, you can be "matrix qualified" as an applicant which means you have a DAT score of greater than or equal to a 19 with a GPA of at or above a 3.5. I fell slightly short of the DAT qualification with an 18 so I was not qualified thus I had to go through the pleasant application process. I also applied to the Navy HPSP as a back up in case my Air Force application was denied. The good part about the Navy is they offer a $20k sign on bonus where the Air Force does not. I am no too fond of spending time out at sea so I pushed Air Force a little harder. Being on a ship might be cool for a week or so, but after several months I think it would become pretty old.

To make a long story short, The application process consisted of me jumping through hoops, and dancing around in a monkey suit. I finally got the call from my recruiter that I was in. I was so excited to get the scholarship I bought myself a new bike (a Felt F1 for all you bike people).

Now the scholarship pays for my tuition and school related expenses (to a degree) as well as pays me a stipend of just under 2k a month. This will all start next year as I have a 3 year contract. There are a lot of details to the contract but the bare bones of it all is that they pay 3 years, I work for them at an Air Force base for 3 years. I've always been interested in the military, afterall who wouldn't want to be surrounded by all the cool stuff on a military base. All I need to do is find out how I can get my hands on one of those F-16s.

Here I am just after getting sworn in by Col. Terry. He runs the dental clinic at Luke AFB. I have sworn to protect this country from enemies foreign and domestic, so if you do anything suspicious, it's my duty to split your lip.

Here is my "coin". I received this from my recruiter the day I was sworn in. I call it my "butter bar". This is the symbol for a 2nd Lieutenant. I am now a 2nd Lt and will be promoted to a captain after I graduate dental school. I really don't know what all of this means, military people tell me that it means people will have to salute me. As long as my school gets paid for, people can call me whatever they want. I guess there is a coin tradition within the AF. If you challenge someone to a "coin challenge" and they fail to present a AF coin, then they have to buy you a drink. You know you've made it in this life when you get to carry a butter bar coin around to win free drinks all day.

Friday, January 9, 2009

What do D1's do?

I thought I would dedicate this post to illustrate what goes on in a typical day as a first year dental student (D1) at Midwestern. I win the award at school as being the student that lives the farthest away from the campus. I live exactly 50.1 miles away in the town of Gilbert, which actually ends up being a little longer because I ride in a carpool with another D1 and a first year med student who live in Mesa. The little detour I take to get to the rendezvous adds about an extra 5 or so miles to my total trip. "Why do you live so far away?"-you are probably thinking. I have lived here for a few years and purchased a house and with the housing market taking a dump, I am upside down on my mortgage and am kind of stuck for right now. Anyways.....

I leave my house around 6:10am and end up on campus around 7:35. Class usually begins at 8am. The twenty five minutes before class allows me to get a breakfast burrito or some sort of greasy breakfast food stuffs from our friendly staff in the cafeteria and play a quick game or two of ping pong.

Although we have many graduate level health profession programs at MWU (Osteopathic medicine, Podiatry, Pharm, PA, etc), we take all of our classes with only the dental class. The same basic science faculty work hard to educate all of us. Since all 111 of us are together all day long in one big room, we have become good buds after just a few months. So... We usually have a couple basic science lectures (50mins a piece) mixed with a dental lecture on prevention or ethics or human behavior followed by lunch. After lunch we usually have a few more science lectures and finish by around 4pm.

I really like the way our basic science curriculum is laid out. It is different from the traditional style like we all had in our undergrad courses. For example, at ASU I would have something like Biochem, Genetics, Micro etc in a semester. Here at MWU we only take one class at a time, one grade. For example right now, our only basic science class is "DENT 1504". Our sciences are all integrated but central to a particular biological system or theme. Right now we are studying lymphatics. So we have our professors from the Anatomy department come in and lecture on the anatomy of lymphoid tissues for an hour, then we might have a professor from the pathology department come in and lecture on pathology of the lymphatic system, then the next hour have some biochemistry of some processes that go on in the lymphatic system etc. It is nice because for each system there is some overlap so we are reviewing old material every time while applying it and building it on a new system. I hope that all made sense. It is great for retention. So we do this for a whole week and are tested on a week's worth of material every Monday. It's Friday night and on Monday we will take a scantron style multiple choice test covering 15 science lectures which is fairly average.

Sometimes four straight hours of pathology feels like five thousand hours. You need to dig down and get comfortable.

Ya, sometimes you have to take extreme measures. Here we have a student who was so overwhelmed with joy after going through 364 power point slides on circulatory system related pathologies she had to take a break. To her credit she is still following along.

The first year of school here is pretty heavy with sciences as I am sure all dental schools are. After our exams on Monday morning, we get to spend the rest of the day up in our simulation clinic and work on clinical things. Sim clinic is great because it is our chance to de-stress from the exam and turn on our laptops, open up our iTunes, and mingle with adjunct and full time dental faculty in an informal and relaxed atmosphere while working on various projects. I am planning on making a post about our current project, which will take some time to complete. We have taken impressions of our typodonts (fake set of maxillary and mandibular arches mounted on an articulatorr), poured up the casts from our impressions and then mounted the casts on our whip-mix articulators. We ground down four teeth on our mandibular left side starting with the first premolar to the second molar. We are building the crowns back up with wax in a very organized and step-wise manner so we learn fundamentals of canine guidance, cuspid rise and group function as well as occlusal relationships between the arches while in centric, lateral and protrusive excursion. It is really a lot of fun to throw wax around for several hours every Monday and learn the dynamics and the science of dentistry pertaining to occlusion. Sim Lab time is where we are reminded every week that we are actually in dental school, not just an amped up and high pressure version of undergrad intense science course nightmare. I'll make a post on this project after I complete it so I can show all the steps in one post.

That's it for now.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Waxing #30 and White Coat

Well during our Christmas break, we had the opportunity to take home a block of wax and do our best to carve out tooth #30 (lower right 1st molar). I am not finished with it yet but I thought I would take a break from carving and throw up a few pictures of the progress. Carving wax is not too hard, it just takes a lot of patience and an eye for fine adjustments. If you think you can just whip out a tooth like it's no big deal, you have got another thing coming, unless you are a lab tech or something. I have found that it is not too difficult to get "almost done" with a waxing project, it is very time intensive to get it "done", and by this I mean all of the little touches such as polishing and getting in some of that sweet occlusial tertiary anatomy and getting all of the crests of contour just perfect etc. I could probably spend a week on this thing doing the fine adjustments, but I think I would go crazy before then. Although "almost done" is pretty good, I try not to finish the job untill it is "done". The difference in a clinical setting between "almost done" and "done" is the difference between a successful restoration and a failure which can lead to progression of disease or other serious occlusal/mastacatory (the way teeth fit together)or TMJ problems.

I have had two sweet weeks off of school and will begin classes on Monday. It is always nice to have a break in dental school to regroup and get excited about sitting in basic science classes for a few more months. Also, here is a video that our class historian BJ has put together. He does a great job at capturing the highlights of our adventures of the inaugural class at Midwestern. These are images of the white coat ceremony.
That's all for now!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Man Cave

This is my new command central. This is the corner of our "guest bedroom" where I have thrown a desk, a light, and a chair. I have found that this is the most effective means to free myself from distractions as I study at home and try to cram all of that basic science stuff we need to know for the boards into my head. I call it my man cave because I like to keep the room somewhat dark with just my immediate study area illuminated. It helps me to focus, I think mainly because it is just beyond the reach of the audio from the TV in the family room. Also in this room is where I store most of my cool stuff that I don't want to leave in the garage. I have my road bike, hiking gear, fishing equipment, snowboard stuff, photography equipment, hunting stuff, cycling gear, random trinkets I brought home from Japan and a few large boxes full of toothpaste, floss and tooth brushes that I have picked up along my dental convention excursions pre-MWU. Scattered about are flats of bottled water that will make the rotation into the fridge as days go by. My man cave. Junk drawer or treasure chest, I can't quite decide. For the longest time I forgot this room was even in existance. it was nothing more than a closed door off of the main hallway. It now serves another function besides acting as a rug to sweep the junk under. This is my new command central.

Becuase of the work load in dental school. It is really important to have good study habits (which I have never had) and a place free of distractions. Every dental student needs a man cave.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

White Coated

We, the Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine inaugural class of 2012 have been officially "in-doctor-inated". By this I mean our class was welcomed into the profession of dentistry by the traditional "white coat ceremony". I never really understood the white coat, or at least what it is all about until Dr. G, our Midwestern University president, told a brief history of the significance in her introductory message at the beginning of the ceremony. It turns out that the science community were the sole possessors of the white coat until in the 19th century when the health profession wanted to meld both fields and bring more science into health promotion, prevention, and practice and leave quackery behind. Makes sense, I can't imagine it any other way. Since then the health community professionals have brandished the White Coat. Ironically, my first memory of the "white coat" was from the little white coat wearing, mustached Mexican man in my neighborhood meat market, "Gillmans". His white coat was mostly pink with shades of... well, blood. Meat market day was a day when I would hang out with my mom all day because I was not old enough to go to school. I would accompany my mom as she would run errands in the blue family station wagon and I would look at the buttons on the radio because I was too short to look out the window. Mom listened to a lot of Kenny Rogers in those days. Meat market day was always a fun day because I would inevitably receive a box of animal cookies presented by my mother as these cookies were within my eye's grasp by the cash register. But I digress....

I did have the chance to take my parents around the campus which was nice. I think they were impressed with the greatness of the school. I even pulled out my mannequin in the pre-clinic and showed them all of the toys we get to play with in the wet lab and in the clinic, such as the drills and dentiforms. Good times.

With the addition of my first white coat hanging up in my closet, the feeling that I have entered into a great profession, a fiduciary profession where much is expected, makes me proud. It makes me proud to be a part of something truly great. Camaraderie, friendship, hard work and a continuous education is the path that I am on and I look forward to what the rest of my career has in store. But for now, I need to focus on my cytoskeletal and epithelial exam that I have to face on Tuesday.

Here I am showing my mom what goes down in the sim clinic. Don't let the picture fool you, I look like I know a lot more than I really do!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Diabetes Fundraiser

Sponsor me in the annual Tour de Cure in Pheonix this year. I will be racing with my dental cycling team to raise money to fight diabetes! You can be the first person to donate HERE!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Periodontal Disease

Since I am on my two week break from my magnificent education at Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine, I thought I would not completely free myself from dental related material and make a post about periodontal disease.

This is obviously a very advanced case.

First of all, after spending a semester in school and covering a handful of diseases related to the oral cavity along with other systemic diseases, it is interesting to see how many problems with our body are related to the ubiquitous "inflammatory response". You see, as our immune system detects a problem, it sends in the cavalry to put out the fire. This all seems fine and dandy except for there is a little collateral damage, especially when the infection is chronic which makes our fibroblasts and other cells mess up the surrounding tissues. Periodontal disease is no exception. Basically, periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease of the periodontium, which includes the alveolar bone, gingiva, periodontal ligament, and cementum (jaw bones, gums, the ligament that holds the tooth in the socket, and the root surface). Although the exact method of this tissue degradation is not completely understood, we know it is caused by some environmental factors as well as predisposing factors thus it is termed "multifactorial".

Check out the bone resorption.

We have all heard the term, "gingivitis", right? If you decide to stop flossing your teeth and decide to not pick up you tooth brush for a little under a week, you will notice your gums seem a little inflamed, tender, and red. This is a classic inflammatory response that the body produces to fight the bacteria causing the damage. Gingivitis is the precursor for periodontal disease. Basically, gingivitis is not a big deal, it is not chronic and can clear up in a week or so with good brushing, flossing, and mouth rinse. It is reversible. BUT, if left untreated for a month, this can progress into a chronic state as the bacteria migrate down the tooth towards the root and overwhelm the body's immune response causing bone resorption and degrading the tooth-socket interface. In short Periodontitis is the situation where bacteria are running willy-nilly up and down your teeth causing tooth detachment and bone loss in addition to an infection which can spread throughout your body causing all sorts of systemic issues which is a topic for another day.

Where does the problem originate?? Well, in our mouths we have a thriving population of bugs that like to eat the stuff that we like (mostly sugars). These bacteria basically poop and pee out an acidic slurry that demineralizes out bone as well as release endotoxin.

Our favorite perio-patient, Bleeding Gums Murphy!

In closing, brush, floss, and see your dentist for regular check ups. Although the destruction of periodontal disease is irreversible, it can be halted with proper attention and a little scraping and possible surgery from the neighborhood periodontist.

Friday, November 14, 2008


It has been a few weeks since my last post and through the prompting of my friend Aaron, my one and only and faithful blog reader, I have decided to sit down and write about what has been going on in my life at dental school. It seems as the last few weeks have been nothing but studying, or at least thinking about studying. At the close of the first semester at MWU, we had a gauntlet of exams to run through from ethics class, prevention, dental anatomy, waxing practical, psychology, and two basic science tests that included musculo-skeletal systems and gross anatomy. Phew, I'm glad it is all over and I have some time to regroup and enjoy doing nothing. I do have plans to run over to my friendly neighborhood dental lab and throw some wax around and work on my dental anatomy by waxing up some crowns. I also wanted to spend some time going over my biochemistry and polishing up on metabolic processes as well as spend some time in my prevention book reading up on oral health issues.

The last day of school was pretty awesome. We started the day with an anatomy exam. Once that was all over we regrouped in the cafeteria for some intense ping pong action. I held my ground pretty well until JP kicked my trash. We then all headed back to the "OG", Ocotillo Hall room G for a guest speaker, Dr. Richard V. Tucker. Dick Tucker is one of those "dental celebrities" as I like to call them. He is an 86 year old master of gold casting that is still in private practice. Dr. tucker was a very meek and humble man who we learned a lot from. Dr. Tucker inspired me to do my best always. I do not think that he was a young dentist and thought that he would be a great dentist. I think he was a dentist who would not settle for anything less than his best, and his best was excellent. In so doing, he built up a successful practice and a world wide reputation for excellence. His work is beautiful and I hope someday I can restore teeth as beautifully as he can. His patients are proud to have his restorations in their mouths.

Here is what some of his work looks like

We are all pretty lucky here at MWU to have Dr. Simonsen as our dean, not only because he is awesome but because he has made it. He has made it in a sense that he is standing on the mountain top of excellence with the select few who have also decided to not just be dentists, but to advance dentistry through research and the development of new materials and methods. Through his associations, we have had great examples in dentistry come to our school to speak to us. We have had Dr. Gordon Christensen, Dr. Arthur Dugoni, Dr. Tucker, and Dr. Donovan. These speakers shared a wealth of information to us as they spoke but the thing that stood out to me most was their commitment to excellence. These individuals sometime along their career decided that they wanted to not just go through the motions, but to promote dentistry and oral health through excellence, thus they are dental celebrities to me. Even though I have just started my dental education, I look to these examples as where I would like to be thirty or forty years down the road. I hope that I can grow my practice and reputation on my clinical skills and how I treat my patients as these guys have. We had a BBQ lunch provided after our last final, I think the relief we all felt knowing we were done with the first semester made the hamburgers and hotdogs taste that much better.

Well our dedicated and faithful Class Historian, BJ, has made a video that I thought I'd post. It is a "We made it through the first semester" video that highlights a few things at MWU. So with that, here's the video...

Here are some of my fellow comrads in line waiting for food after our last exam.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Surgical Telescopes

Today we finally received our much anticipated surgical telescopes/loupes. I decided to go with the "Buddy Holley" style frames, initially as a joke but they just fit my face so much better than all of the other styles. I'm not sure anyone else in the class went for this style, I don't know why. They are 2.5x and make a huge difference in seeing all of the little blemishes in my lab work. They are the Designs For Vision brand and I also bought the light that fits on top. I look like super-dork with them on but I don't care, in dental school we always get new gadgets to play with, mostly because I am in the inaugural class and we seem to be receiving new things every week up in the sim lab to play with. I'll be excited to use these from now on to make my wax-ups and preps perfecto. We get lots of toys but dental toys are pricy. These bad boys run for about $2,500.00 but we got them at a discount because we are dental students and bought up 110 sets as a class, they cost me about 1k out of pocket.