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.


I have decided to deviate slightly from dentistry although not totally. I thought I would share one of my favorite youtube videos. This video is of a guy who knows what persistance is all about. Some measure success in life by how many degrees they have mounted to the wall or how much money they have tucked away in the bank. This earthy guy finds joy in stacking animals that you won't find stacked in nature. This guy spent one and a half years training a dog to let a cat ride his back and to train a rat to ride the cat's back. It is like a big piggyback ride of juxtaposition-ness. I figure if this scraggly guy in Santa Barbara has the patience and persistance to accomplish this mighty feat, then surley I can push through dental school with a brightness of hope. I bet dental school is easier than what this guy did. I admire his ambition and creativity to promote get-along-ization with his metaphorical animal tower. Enjoy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Number 6

I thought I would dedicate this post to tooth number 6. Tooth #6 was the tooth of focus in our dental anatomy course last week and we were tested on it Monday. The "long-hand" name for this tooth is "Secondary maxillary right canine", I prefer the short-hand versiou, "#6". The canine is a very important tooth. It is the "fang" for all of the vampires, it is the sharpest anterior tooth and it is designed for thrashing and shredding wild beasts (maybe when we were all cavemen). Besides being a sweet looking tooth, it is unique in several ways. It has a unique lingual surface in that it has an additional ridge (when compared to the lateral and central incisors) right down the middle which also creates an additional lingual fossa, mesial and distal. It happens to be the longest tooth in the secondary dentition, this sucker is 27.8mm long and has the longest root with an hourglass shape (transverse section) which aids to keep this sucker in. This tooth is important for aesthetic reasons (canine eminence) and is a great tooth for anchoring in any sort of prosthetic device. I am a fan of the canine. *Disclaimer: Tooth in image is number 22, the lower left canine.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Week 6 Time Management

This image represents dental school.

Just as every imbalance in life needs adjustment for survival, so has been my experience with dental school. I've been making coarse as well as fine adjustments to try and calibrate my time to handle the course work being flashed before my eyes in the form of never ending power points. The inaugural class of 2012 has been bounced around like a pin-ball in basic-science land for the past several weeks and I am starting to figure out how to handle dental school. It is probably safe to say that I reside on the far left of the bell curve of dental students with time management skills but I am figuring it out and have increased my studying capacity thanks to the sweet nectar within every can of Rock Star. Although the stock market is taking a dump, the number of dental students is increasing as is the need for "study juice". Rock Star is the new gold. If I had any money, I'd definitely invest. If only dental schools would budget the yearly expenses of this stuff into our student loans....

Don't worry, I drink the zero-carb version so it's all good.....

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My Office

Well I took my camera to school and snapped a few shots. I am really impressed with the facilities at Midwestern University. The sim lab is located in a new building with lots of room for growth. I think the second floor is dedicated to dentistry. It is usually only dental students I ever see up there. Here is what the sim clinic looks like. We spend about 4 hours a week up here working on small projects from sealing teeth to waxing up tooth preparations.

You may be asking yourself, "what are those things tucked under the desk?" Well here is what is stuffed under all of our desks.

These are our maniquins made by the wonderful people at Kavo. This is what $15k will get you now a days. We can pull him out and extend him out and throw in some fake teeth and drill away.

Well, our latest project is waxing. We are waxing up the mesial half, lingual and labial, of the secondary maxillary right central incisor, tooth #8. This tooth is a prepared ivorine tooth (plastic tooth). It is basically a project to learn tooth anatomy. It is useful to learn such things like the crown length is about 10.9mm, root is 13.4mm, cervical width is 6.6mm, width at crest of curvature is 7.4mm and so on. There is alot of dimensions to know, I have only scratched the surface. The tooth started out with half of it shaved off, about 1mm. I used a few different colors of wax as instructed to represent different anatomical landmarks such as incisal ridge, marginal ridge, cingulum, and mesial contact point. I will say that waxing teeth has been great practice on developing our manual dexterity and appreciation for lab technicians. I'll throw up a picture of what I'm talking about.

Now for all of you looking at this saying, "wow that looks crappy", don't worry, I'm not done yet. It is very hard to get the surface super smooth with hollenback carvers alone so I will clean it up a little more next time and polish it with a nylon stocking to get it looking sharp! You have to admit I nailed that mesio lingual ridge and lingual fossa (it looks a little over contoured on the photo)! My friends at Ahwatukee Dental Lab would be proud!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Week 5

Well I have completed 4 weeks of rigorous science studies and dabbled around with my Kavo electric high speed on some "learn-a-preps" and on an extracted 3rd molar (after I sealed it like no one's business). Dental school came up so quickly on me I do not feel like I had the time to ease into the transition from drywall patcher to dental student but now, 4 weeks later, I feel like I am starting to get a grasp on what this first year is going to be like. I think it is going to be like taking a drink from a fire hose or getting about 10 science books worth of material smashed down my face from faculty members. It is okay though because this should only last through the remainder of this year and then next year will be alot more clinical which equals more enjoyable. The more we get to play with our dental tools and throw wax around and the more we get to be away from the lecture hall, the happier we all are.

Since Midwestern has just started their dental program, I get to be one of the guinnea pigs which comes with being part of the inaugural class. I am totally fine with that and was aware of this when I applied to this school but it is interesting to be tossed around with cirriculum changes and calander updates and such. I have kind of just learned not to really anticipate the week but to just show up in the morning and follow all of the other students in blue scrubs. It seems to work out pretty well.

I thought I'd intro this new blog with this post, I will try to keep my camera handy throughout the day and upload some pictures of what is going on. The campus is really beautiful and our dental facilites are second to none. It is kind of a shame that a photograph cannot capture the greatness of our dental faculty, they are all truly awesome people as well as dental clinicians and educators.