Friday, September 28, 2012

Day 33: Dental School = Glorified Art School

Sometimes, dental school seems like some sort of glorified art school. It resembles elementary school arts and crafts - sketching, gluing, carving, trimming, melting wax, and playing with plaster. Yet at the end of four years, you get this awesome "D.D.S" degree that follows your name. 

Take our morphology class for example:

We spent four hours in lab the past Wednesday sketching the morphological structures of anterior teeth, which was rather fun. Well, it was fun until you realized that you were supposed to sketch the buccal, lingual, and mesial/distal view of three different teeth (read: 9 sketches total) within the four hours. Then it became an exercise in power-drawing.. 

Woe betide anyone who isn't fond of arts and crafts. You're gonna have a rough start to dental school. 

This year, we have brand new teachers for both our preclinical amalgam and morphology course. The Class of 2016 is the first at our dental school to learn morphology via drawing teeth rather than carving teeth with wax. The pros of drawing the morphology of teeth is that it takes significantly less time to complete. Usually, I can get a decent sketch done in approximately 30 minutes compared to the 8 hours it usually takes to carve a tooth in wax. This frees up a lot of time for us to improve other areas of our preclinical education. 

However, many upperclassmen lament the fact that our class doesn't have to carve teeth anymore. 

"WHAT?! You guys don't have to spend 8 hours on the tedious task of carving anymore?"  
"But you guys won't learn any morphology through drawing!
 "How in the world are you supposed to learn about a 3D object (teeth) by drawing a 2D representation of the object?!
"Your hand skills won't be as well developed if you don't carve," they say, "you won't know what you are doing when you start wax-ups

So I guess the jury is out on whether the lack of carving in our curriculum is a pro or con. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Day 18: Our First Dental School Project

They say that dental school is a step up in rigor compared to undergrad. At this moment, I'm not sure if that statement is true or not. However, I will admit that dental school is a step up in the number of hours I spend in school each day. 

Gone are the days when I can catch a mid-afternoon nap between my molecular biology lecture and my organic chemistry lab. Gone are the days when I can go home and cook lunch. Gone are the days when I only spend three hours per day in lecture hall or labs. 

Nowadays, I spend my mornings (8am-12pm) with my problem-based learning (PBL) group discussing the inflammatory response, ibuprofen, and keloids. After a one hour lunch, I head upstairs towards the sim lab for morphology or amalgam lab from 1pm-5pm. On the not-so-good days, I stay in lab from 5pm - midnight to finish morphology projects. 

Without further ado, I introduce you to our first morphology project: taking impressions of a typodont, casting the impressions with Fujirock, and mounting the model in an articulator. 

There are some flaws with my model. Most prominently, my bases are too wide (I definitely have to trim them closer to the model in the future). There are a few rough edges in my plaster and some positive bubbles that I tried to patch up. Also, my models slightly deviate from maximum intercuspation (MIP). 

Despite all of the flaws, I'm still proud of my model - my first dental school project! This is the project that has been consuming my waking hours during our first two weeks of dental school. It's the reason why I've been neglecting this blog. Mixing plaster, trimming stone, sanding down the rough edges, scraping off the positive bubbles, filling in minute defects. Sometimes, I feel like I'm in art school. Maybe I'll be the next Michelangelo? 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

USC v. Hawaii Football Game

We walked across Exposition Blvd, southbound towards the Coliseum. I had a few former Bruins in tow and I was eagerly awaiting the opportunity to introduce them to 'SC football. I wanted to show them the beauty of undying school spirit, the look of a campus adorned with cardinal and gold, and for the first time, being on the winning side of a blowout football game.

Flashback to September 13, 2008, my first college football game. It was a game of epic proportions, #1 ranked USC vs. #5 ranked Ohio State. We dressed in cardinal and gold. We painted our cheeks cardinal and gold. We bled cardinal and gold. 

Circa 2008
It was only 8am in the morning, yet the line in from of the Coliseum looped halfway around the building. We joined the throngs of SC fans waiting outside of the Coliseum for the start of the 5pm game. The game wasn't even close yet we stayed until the end, watching as USC manhandled Ohio State 35-3. 
Circa 2008
This time around, the USC v. Hawaii game didn't have the same energy preceding the game. Even though this is our season of redemption, playing against the Rainbow Warriors doesn't generate the same amount of buzz. Plus, it's hard to replicate the energy and excitement we possessed as an undergrad during our time as a grad student.

There are many differences that I noted. As a grad student, we started pre-gaming around 1pm. As an undergrad, we were already lining up outside of the Coliseum around 1pm. As a grad student, we sat in the corner of the stadium almost directly behind the field goal post. As an undergrad, we fought to get front row seats at the 50 yard line. As a grad student, we wore less USC paraphernalia. As an undergrad, we painted our face and bodies (for the guys) with cardinal and cold. As a grad student, there are still many classmates who are loyal to their alma mater's football team. As an undergrad, EVERYONE is a Trojan fan. 

It's a different experience and one is not necessarily better than the other. It's just different.