Thursday, May 31, 2012

Freshman Year of Dental School

Hey all,

Hope things are going okay for you all. I am sorry about Friday. I was so busy at work that I didn't even turn my computer on. It was just one of those days. Also, I am having a bit of blogger’s block. I can't think of any topics. I have read other blogs trying to find inspiration, but… nothin’. I think all day long that something is going to happen at the office that will spark something, but… nothin’. If you have an idea that you want me to talk about, email me at

Well, I did it. I went to Costco and bought “50 Shades of Grey.” I had a patient tell me I just had to read it, so I went and got it. Then I started hearing what the book is about. I see on the back of the book that it is classified as Adult Erotica. I saw a “Saturday Night Live” skit about it. The hoopla around it is so big that now I HAVE to read it.I haven't gotten to a hot scene yet, but my initial impression is that this is not written by a master of the English language. I am no expert, but the beginning reminded me of the Twilight book. I will let you know.

I have watched a couple movies in the last few weeks. My life has been so busy with school ending, the kids’ sports, this lecture stuff and the buying of the practice, that I don't have a lot of free time. That is why I haven't been watching many movies lately. Netflix is just making money off of me right now.

Anyway, I saw I am Four. After the first 30 minutes, I felt like I was wasting my time. But, at the end, I was thought it wasn’t half bad. I did watch Mission Impossible IV this weekend. My wife likes action movies. It was okay. This movie style is a bit overplayed. I am not a big Tom Cruise fan, but it was okay.

I am sorry, but all I can think of to talk to you about is my lecture stuff. I will try to make it not boring.

I have to tell you that what has been monopolizing my mind is composites. I know it can be a bit redundant. My lecture is done and I like it, but I worry that I am not an expert at composites. Sure, I can do a pretty filling, but I want to know more about composites.

I have a relationship with a professor at the University of Florida. He is one of the top guys in the BioMaterials dept. His thing is composites (he is presently on sabbatical writing a textbook on it). I get jazzed about learning more about the science (to a point) and he gets jazzed learning about what is going on in the real world. It is a pretty good relationship.

About a month ago, I asked him to help me learn more about the backbone of composites. He said, "Let’s start here," and he sent me a 72-page document that he said he expects all his freshman dental students to know. Then he added, "You probably should know this because some of your audience will know this."

Shoot. If freshman dental students know this, then it should be a piece of cake. And, I want to know this because... I just should. But it didn't go so well. It literally took me a month to read. It brought back so many memories of the pain of freshman year of dental school. The first couple of pages were the outline and the overview of the manifesto. I was on page four and I still doing okay. But then I got to page 5. The objective was to “Discuss the basic nature of polymers regarding composition, organization, and molecular weight. Explain their intra- and inter-molecular bonds and how their structure and molecular weight affect properties such as asrheology, strength and thermal behavior of the polymer.”

Yeah, “asrheology” was a word in there. I don't even know if that is a word. Is it a misspelling? I don't know. Google changed it to “archeology.” But that doesn't even make sense to me. After I read this, I knew I was in trouble.

Pages 10 to15 were all about bonds and reactions. Words like “intermolecular,” “covalent,” “Van der Walls,” “addition and condensation polymerization reactions.” This actually went on for about 25 pages. I was taking notes, but nothing was seeping in. The material was too hard. I remembered his charge about the dental students and my audience. I can't believe a freshman dental student has to know this. There is no way any dentist knows this stuff.

Now, here is the point of the whole thing. I have to think that our two fields are like two islands. He is a scientist doing his stuff in the lab; I am a dentist doing my stuff in the mouth. As my wife would say, we are like two passing ships. He doesn't know the dentist in the real world and I sure as heck don't know what he knows. Sure, I would love to know what he knows and collaborate with him, but I would have to be brought up to speed by taking organic chem all over again and he would have to come to the office. If I were part of the faculty at a dental school, then things would be awesome. We could work arm in arm. But I am not and we can't.

We all know the best lecturers is the guy who tell you they did the study of the material and the study in the mouth. Or the DMD, PhD who has a couple of underlings. The dentist has the idea and the underling does the lab study. I would love to be that guy. But then you spend half your life trying to get grants to do the research and that is not the life for me.

So then we are at an impasse. I don't know enough to be a scientist and he hasn't done real life dentistry in 15 years. We need each other, but we don't speak the same language.

I will stop here. I realize I am babbling and I promised it wouldn't be boring.

Any thoughts? Have you had any experience with this?

Have a great Thursday.



Dr. Andy said...


Do you REALLY think first year dental students know all that stuff? That professor HOPES his students read that paper.

My 2 cents. Don't spend too much time on the science during the lecture. Most people don't care. If I am attending your lecture my thought will be, "How does he get such great anatomy on such a large composite? Please tell me how you do it!"

I am not thinking, "Gee, I wonder what the addition and condensation polymerization reactions are." Sure, there's always one dentist in the group who thinks he/she is a scientist. Just tell them to get a life or at the very least tell them to read those journals we all pretend to read and end up throwing out.


Anonymous said...


I LOVE this blog! This isn't a response to your post, but I wanted to ask a question. I am 18 years old and I scheduled to go off to dental school in September and was but I am having niggling second thoughts about if I have made the right choice. I feel so privileged to have have been accepted because in my country it is very hard to get into dental school. I found your blog while searching the Internet to see what practicing dentist think about their careers. Your blog is very encouraging.

My questions are, did you ALWAYS know you wanted to be a dentist? Did you have second thoughts? Did the idea of peoples' mouths "gross you out" at any point? Did you ever regret it? Does dentistry ever get boring? Is it really as stressful as people say? Is dentistry a good career for a creative person who loves the arts?

I would very much appreciate your answer to answer of these and any other advice you can give to a young would-be dentist with doubts!



Marielaina Perrone DDS said...

You will have people zoning out with too much deep science. I have been there while in some cases its very interesting does not always work very well to a larger audience.

Anonymous said...

There's no magic here. It's an occlusal matrix - a press-on cure-through piece that is pushed onto the composite and then cured. It works for selected cases - large occlusals or class 2's. You can buy them from places that sell class 5 matrices.

Anonymous said...

There's no magic here. It's an occlusal matrix - a press-on cure-through piece that is pushed onto the composite and then cured. It works for selected cases - large occlusals or class 2's. You can buy them from places that sell class 5 matrices.


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