In late June I got the opportunity to experience dentistry first hand at the University of Pacific in Stockton, California. As one of the first universities in California, UoP hosts hundreds of kids each summer exposing them to various programs ranging from music to pharmacy and so much in between.
Throughout the dentistry program, I was able to live on the Stockton campus for 2 weeks and immerse myself in the college life while also gaining invaluable knowledge about the profession of dentistry. The University of Pacific also is a highly ranked dental school (located in San Francisco) and we were able to visit this campus as well. The main goal of the program was to expose us to activities done in dental school and the day-to-day life of a dentist.
The first week was mainly spent on practicing detailed hand work that simulated what is done in the first year of dental school. A big portion of a dentists work involves carving and
fine motor skills that we
perfected by carving various teeth into soap bars. While this may sound easy, it was a meticulous task that revolved around precise measurements and ratios as well as light hand. We then got into drilling and filling cavities on practice teeth when we visited the dental school. We used tools like the explorer and filling instruments to complete the filling. Doing this took a great amount of effort to match the natural cusps and grooves that the tooth has. In an attempt to make the patients bite feel natural, it is extremely important to pay attention to the natural shape of the tooth as even a slight difference can be felt by the patient.
We followed this activity with making impressions using trays and alginate. This was required lots of care as the alginate set quickly and if it was done incorrectly, bubbles would form and ruin the impression.
This program was an excellent experience overall, teaching me so much about the field. Being able to hear from faculty and students about the skills required to be a dentist was enlightening and has only furthered my interest in the career.