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!