Sunday, January 31, 2010

Weekend Update

How quickly January has come and gone! Dental school sometimes feels like some sort of time warp--some days it feels like you look down at a book to study and when you look up a month has gone by. The good part about that situation is that there are only a few months left until I start working in the clinic on real patients. The bad part is that there are still quite a few hurdles to jump over before I get there.

One such hurdle is a practical that we took last week. Technically, there were two practicals that were taken consecutively. The first was the preparation of a tooth for a metal crown; the second was to make a temporary crown to fit on top of the prepared tooth.

To make the temporary, we were given a sort of "ready made" crown like this:

The point of the practical was to make some minor modifications on the premade crown, then fill it with some acrylic goo and make it fit properly to the tooth. Unfortunately for me, we were only given 3 crowns to use for practice. Here's what happened with my 3 practice crowns...

Practice crown #1: I forgot to put Vaseline on the tooth, so when I stuck the crown on with the acrylic goo in it, the acrylic hardened and trapped the crown on the tooth. I used the hemostats (fancy dental term for "grabber tool") to grab the crown and pull it off. Instead of pulling off the crown, the hemostats ripped a huge hole in the side of the crown. Once I finally got the crown taken off, I realized that I had forgotten yet another preparation step because the acrylic was still trapped on the tooth. I scrapped those materials and decided to start again.

Practice crown #2: I remembered to put Vaseline on this time, so the crown came off without a hitch. This crown looked really promising...until I accidentally trimmed off the bottom of it with my drill. And that was the end of #2.

Practice crown #3: On practice #3, I remembered to put Vaseline on, didn't drill anything important off, but somehow the crown ended up still not quite right.

Needless to say, I was quite nervous going into the practical (never having made a good temporary crown in my practice time), but somehow it mostly came least, I thought so. You never can tell until you get the grades back, though!

One other school update: I just came across the word "biopsychosociocultural" as in "A person is a biopsychosociocultural being who is constantly adapting to his or her environment." First of all, I don't even think that "biopsychosociocultural" is a word. Secondly, do you really think that's the best way to define "person?" Sometimes people (dental school professors) make things harder than is necessary.

Last night I had a babysitting job watching a 5 year-old boy and a 2 1/2 year-old girl. The kids were really fun to play with and it's not too bad to make a little money, either!

Jeffrey and I have recently decided to volunteer in the nursery on Sunday mornings at our church. Hopefully it will help us get our "baby fix" and the nursery has been desperately understaffed lately, so it's a great place for us to serve. It seems that my choice of accessories has helped me to win some points with the little girls at our church, too, so hopefully we will be good to go in the nursery. Today (for the second week in a row) a little girl at church who didn't even know me reached out for me to hold her because she wanted to see the pearls I was wearing! I told both little girls to let their dads know that every little girl needs a set of pearls to wear to church like mine. Unfortunately for the dad today, he has 3 baby girls--a set of triplets! He'll need quite a few pearls to accessorize his family.
I've been lucky enough to get pearls from my parents, my grandpa, and my sweet husband, so I have plenty to wear every Sunday to church. (By the way, Jeffrey bought me flowers last week for no reason at all--don't I have a great husband?)

Well, that's the update for this weekend. Ready or not, February comes tomorrow--have a happy week.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

State of the Union

President Obama gave this year's "State of the Union" address last night, and Jeffrey and I watched it with a friend over homemade pizza. I felt a little disappointed after it was over, a feeling that can most likely be attributed to the fact that I've been watching "The West Wing" episodes for the last few months and the writer of that show, Aaron Sorkin, is a significantly better speech writer than President Obama's speech writers. When (fake) President Bartlet gives a speech on the show, your heart is moved. You feel his passion and his fervor, and you are moved to action. It's understandable that there would be a large gap between the "The West Wing" and the real west wing, but I would have loved to see some of the drama last night.

Don't get me wrong, there were times when the President spoke with passion, but there were also moments of argumentative remarks, sneaky accusations, and empty promises. I think it is inexcusable that the President would attack the Supreme Court judges during the State of the Union speech. Sitting in that room were nine of the most deliberate and wise minds of the time, and they were chastised in a speech the entire nation heard. Perhaps their latest decision was wrong--I don't claim to know the answers to the difficult problems they face daily, but I am convicted that President Obama had no right to punish them on such a public stage.

The President lost more points with me (and many other Americans) when he blamed former President Bush for the umpteenth time for the current state of the economy. Not only was it unbecoming for a man in his position to point fingers, it was simply rude. Especially coming on the coattails of his request to former President Bush to direct a long-term Haiti relief fund.

I must agree with Senator McCain on leaving the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuals in the military intact for the time being. Senator McCain said, "We have the best trained, best equipped, and most professional force in the history of our country, and the men and women in uniform are performing heroically in two wars. At a time when our Armed Forces are fighting and sacrificing on the battlefield, now is not the time to abandon the policy." In a time when we are already fighting so many battles, this is not the time to tackle a new front--although it must be done at some point.

Despite these negative samplings from the speech, good things were said last night. I applaud the initiative to work on schools, although I worry about the President's words here: "Now, this year, we've broken through the stalemate between left and right by launching a national competition to improve our schools. And the idea here is simple: Instead of rewarding failure, we only reward success. Instead of funding the status quo, we only invest in reform -- reform that raises student achievement; inspires students to excel in math and science; and turns around failing schools that steal the future of too many young Americans, from rural communities to the inner city." I love that he wants to improve schools, and I completely agree with him that good education is the best anti-poverty program, but I wonder what he means by "we only reward success." Does this mean that our teachers will be paid only if they meet certain passing rates each year for their students? Will schools be financially punished for the number of dropouts? This may sound like a good idea at first glance, but could be catastrophic for our teachers. It takes time to turn an education system around, and starting by "only rewarding success" may lead to the closure of more schools than the improvement of any.

In the end, it's simply a speech. Many words were said last night, and even more will be said today in response to it. What remains to be seen is what action will become of it.

A penny for your thoughts--what did you think of the State of the Union? Scale from 1-10?

P. S. Is anyone else out there REALLY tired of hearing about "Main Street" and "Wall Street" this year?

Monday, January 25, 2010

All joking aside...

I've missed this little blog so far this semester. I've loved writing on it and keeping all the readers updated with the day-to-day thrills, chills, and spills of dental school. There has been so little to blog about so far this semester, though. The Spring semester of the sophomore year of dental school is simply not funny. In fact, it is decidedly un-funny. Second year of dental school is like this:

Knock knock
Who's there?
Another test.
Another test who?
No, seriously--it's just another test.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still really liking school, I just can't seem to find anything humorous about cavities (plaque is not a joke). Instead, I've gathered up a group of incredibly cheesy, too ridiculous to laugh at, over the top laffy taffy wrapper style jokes.


What did the dentist see at the North Pole?...A molar bear

What does a dentist do on a roller coaster?...He braces himself

What did the dentist say to the computer?...This won't hurt a byte

Pardon me for a moment, please," said the dentist to the victim, "but before beginning this work I must have my drill."
"Good heavens, man!" exclaimed the patient irritably. "Can't you pull a tooth without a rehearsal?"

DENTIST is the most suitable male profession - the only man that can tell a
woman when to open and when to shut her mouth, and get away with it.

Monday, January 18, 2010


How wonderful it is to have a day that recognizes the achievements of a man named Martin Luther King. Using only the span of a life that was cut short, this man dreamed of the improbable, the unthinkable, the impossible, and helped to make it reality.

It wasn't long ago that the world accepted the notion that all men (and women, for that matter) were not created equal. Such an idea today would certainly be shouted down as nonsense. In America in the mid 1900s, black Americans faced seemingly insurmountable odds of gaining rights as citizens. Public opinion would not easily be changed. Laws governing the colors permitted to enter certain buildings would not quickly be amended. Vicious hatred hidden in cloaks the white hue of innocence would not be soon discarded.

And yet there were those who dared to dream the impossible dream. Somehow those dreams gave birth to strength, though not strength of bullets or spite, but strength of voices and fists beating desperately on podiums.

Imagine what we can do in the years to come if we continue to dream the impossible dreams...

The improbably, unthinkable, and even the impossible can become simply "tomorrow."

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Death and taxes

I'll be the first to admit, I don't really know all the ins and outs of the health care bills that are currently the topic of so much heated debate. In general terms I basically oscillate between the opinion that everybody should get taken care of when they're sick and the opinion that doctors should always be paid well for their services. (The explanation as to why these two things don't seem to be possible at the same time is beyond my reach.) One opinion that will always be floating in my mind during such negotiations is that people with so-called "pre-existing conditions" should absolutely not be denied health care. In fact, I could easily drop into a state of insanity when I consider that for some reason, in this great country, health insurance companies will only offer health care coverage to the already-healthy!

Anyway, in an attempt to be more knowledgeable and aware, I've begun reading more political articles on CNN during my breaks between class. Today I was happy to see that there was an article entitled "What will the health care bill look like?" Following the link, I was led to a plainly written article that outlined the differences between the House and Senate's respective bills.

One tiny sentence in the article didn't make sense to me:

The House plan pays for health care reform with a 5.4 percent surtax on incomes for those making more than $500,000 a year, as well as families earning more than $1 million. It also includes a 2.5 percent tax on medical devices sold in the United States.

I'm satisfied with the surtax on incomes over $500,000 (I think they'll still be able to buy milk), and I'm also relatively unconcerned with taxing those who earn more than $1 million per year (in fact, I don't think they'll even realize it's gone). My problem is with the 2.5% tax on medical devices.

Do I have this straight? The government wants to help fix health care costs. They've devised a plan to do so. In order to pay for the plan to fix health care costs, they'll have to raise the cost of medical devices. Does this seem counter intuitive to anyone else out there?

Ben Franklin said, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

I say, "Taxes may be certain, but they certainly don't always make cents!"

(get it?)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I've been trying to get back into blogging habit, but to tell you the truth, I've been feeling more "blah" than "blog."

It's not that going back to school is so bad, it's just that it pales in comparison to spending time with your family, opening Christmas presents, and eating enough sweets to cause the immediate formation of diabetes.

Like it or not, though, school started again--and this time the stakes are higher. We will be in the school clinic working on REAL LIVE patients in one semester! Things that used to make you throw your hands in the air and say, "Oh great! Now I have to start over on this project," will suddenly turn into accidents that make you throw your hands in the air and run away from your patient because now they need dentures. Scary.

One of the major stressors today at school happened in our endodontics (root canal) class. You may remember my telling you that I've been collecting extracted teeth for the last 2 years--that's because we're required to provide our own teeth to practice on for our endo class. Unfortunately, they don't just require extracted teeth, they require specific types of extracted teeth with no chips, cracks, or fillings and complete roots.

Here's the rub...

Dentists don't usually extract teeth that have no chips, cracks, or fillings. Why? Because they're usually good teeth, that the people are pretty attached to having in their mouths. Even worse, one of these magical perfect teeth has to be a front tooth. Many of us simply do not have an extracted front tooth because almost no one in the world wants to lose that tooth! Dentists spend hours drilling, filling, crowning, correcting, and even begging those front two teeth to stay in patients' mouths because that's what makes their patients happy. Nonetheless, we need some--100, to be exact.

So in the name of dentistry, we need some of you blog readers to bite the bullet (which will be difficult because of the tooth loss) and get your perfectly good two front teeth taken out.
Thanks in advance.