Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Dental students

I longed to write about this a long time ago. But time never permits me. (Read: does not manage time very well)

Everytime i try to write about life as a dental student in uitm, i will end up sounding like a depressed person, who seriously need further medical attention. Hihi. Okay nope. It shouldnt be that scary. Its just me.

So it was in august 2011 i got the offer from uitm, to further my study in dentistry. Currently i am in year 4, dreading the time i finish my study. Goodness. Its freaking 5 years man. Majority of my friends have graduated with flying colors and while they are happy honey-mooning with their life partner, here i am pulling my hairs calling my patients everynight to make sure they come for their appointment tomorrow. At the same time struggling to read and get ready for tomorrow's clinic. Still, i never read enough. Dentistry never comes easy for me as i am not, in any way, artistic. I have a destructive hand instead. So it is a struggle. Most of the times i found myself frustrated over things that go behind my plan and time.

So..  Okay. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. For me, i think, of course one needs to be diligent, knowledgeable, decisive, communicative and skillful to be a good dental surgeon. Now now, dental surgeon sounds like a big thing compared to dentist right. It is the same nonetheless.

Why diligent?
Well. Diligent is that one important criterion to succeed isnt it? But if you are dreaming of a college life with only 2 or 3 lectures and or tutorials per day, then dentistry is not. A. Wise. Choice.
Our schedule is changing everyday. Nothing is the same. It will involve classes from 8 am to at least 5 pm (sometimes 6 pm) every. Single. Day. That doesnt include unfinished project/s where you will need to stay back longer. Most of the times we stay back in the prosthodontics lab to do our lab work for prosthodontics project. Usually it closes at 7pm during weekdays and sometimes it is opened on saturdays. So it is not remote to miss our lunch hours and weekend and staying back until dusk to finish our work. It is a norm.

However, most of us still know how to have fun okay. Its about managing your time right. Prepare yourself before doing any procedures or lab works. Okay sometimes luck may leave us scratching our heads.. Anything can go wrong in lab ( and clinics). Technical or procedural error. So sometimes it might take a little bit longer to finish our work.

Why knowledgeable?
I think you can figure that out by yourself. By the end of this course you will carry a Dr title in front of your name and with it, comes a great responsibility. Contrary to the common notion that dentistry is all about teeth, it actually requires medical knowledge as well. Mouth is a part of your body. Certain diseases can be manifested intraorally and some of dental procedures and medications can meddle with your existing co-morbidities. That, to say a few. We have to know the general well-being of our patients, recognize any tendency for the patient to develop abnormal reaction and customize dental procedures to cater to the patient's need.

What u read in the book mostly is a standard procedure. We humans differ from each other. There are times when things go wrong or complicated. Extra knowledge will come in handy. Of course all the lecturers will supervise us during clinics and will help us if things get complicated. But it is good if you have an idea on how to make things right.

I always think it this way. Dentistry is about restoring and preserving. And when it comes to restoring we will try to make it look natural. So our teeth have different shades of white. The shape and the color of my teeth are not the same like you. Thus, restorative material comes in variety. They have different brands, different quality, different material, different color, different strength, require different handling and different longevity. Easy example, to restore a tooth we have amalgam (metal), composite, or Glass ionomer restoration to choose from. You have to quickly analyse the situation, condition and decide which material you want to use.
That one talking about choosing material.

Another example is; for some procedures we have different techniques or methods to do them. You have to decide which method suits you and the patient well.

And all of these decisions must be made as quick as a lightning. You're chasing time.

Dentistry is all about completing requirements. To complete all that youre gonna need that basic ingredient; patients. Since we are in learning process, every treatments must be made step by step. We have to go through every procedures thus, we take a longer time to complete our treatment compared to certified doctors working in certified dental clinics. Persuading patients and making them understand all these is a tedious and monotonous task. Let alone creating awareness among them to take care of their oral hygiene (read: Brushing teeth correctly, especially before sleep and flossing everyday)

So you have to be very creative and communicative for people to fall in love with you and your work. Losing patient in the middle of treatment is a big loss to us. We will have to start from square one and the time wasted can never be compensated enough.

Dentistry requires a sense of art. Carving teeth, waxing up dentures to mimick the gum, handling instrument gracefully and correctly to ensure maximum performance, etc etc. if you are skillful then you will love this course. Everything will be easier if you have the skills. Skills can be acquired as well. Dont worry.

Talking about the course. I dont really know much about this new course. Since last year uitm has introduced a new type of course (sorry i dont know how to describe it). The new course will expose the students earlier to clinics. I think they will start seeing patients starting semester 2 of year 2.
As for me i started seeing patients only when i started my year 3. Year 1 and year 2 will mainly be lectures. I studied basic medical sciences and oral biology. Oral biology exam was at the end of year 1. The next year i studied basic medical sciences again (a lot) and dental material subject. At the end of the year there were two professional exams which are basic medical sciences and dental material. Preclinical years involve a lot of classes. It was on year 2 that we started going to the simulation lab to complete preclinical projects before we enter clinical years.
In year 3, we took human disease and oral pathology. On thursday every week we went to hospital sungai buloh or selayang for medical and surgery posting (a bit like what medical students do for their clinical years.. Clerking and examining patiets) from year 2 onwards there will be two professional exams every year. Besides learning those two that i mentioned, of course we also learn other subjects like operative dentistry, endodontics, periodontics yada yada yada that will be tested in year 5.
Year 4 professional exams will be in community dentistry and oral surgery. We need to complete the prerequisite requirements before we are allowed to sit for the examinations said. So year 4 we will be busy chasing to complete extractions and dental health requirements. By the word busy, i mean very. Oh yeah. It is in year 4 that we will choose our research project and this will be ongoing until year 5 where we will present our project paper.
In year 5 we will continue life as usual. We will have to complete all the requirements from every departments before we are allowed to sit for the two professional exams at the end of the year. Restorative dentistry and oral medicine. Year 5 we will be very. Extra. Busy. Chasing our requirements like mad to be able to graduate on time. Goodluck to me as well.

So in a nutshell, dentistry is all about completing requirements. By requirements, i mean you have to say, complete how many teeth extractions, restore how many teeth, treat how many dental hygiene patients, yada yada. That how many is determined by respective departments. There are like almost 10 departments and every deparments has their own requirements. So.. It is challenging.


  1. Hey wonderful, I used to be an avid reader of your blog before you stopped writing altogether. Certainly, you're a grown-up now. Pretty dentist to be, I'd like to meet you to catch up on all those years we left behind. may I?

  2. I'm a dental student too. A freshie. I just couldnt get myself into this thing. I'm scared that I fail my exams cause Ive been really neglecting my studies, it just so confusing. I kinda like if I fail I'm gonna quit this.
    So I wonder if you ever fail and needed to repeat things ?? Thankyou.

  3. Thanks for your insight for your fantastic posting.