D1 March and April: The Transition Back to In-Person Dental School

After 2 months of being fully remote, the D1 class here at UB Dental is back to a hybrid model with in-person lab courses and online didactic classes. From my gatherings, it seems that the D1’s are pumped to be back in Squire Hall honing their hand skills. Putting in the hours in pre-clinic and learning how to drill and restore teeth are what make you feel like a true dental student your D1 year. So, regardless of the hard work that comes with being back, we are glad to have this experience again.

Usually by this point in the D1’s education multiple practicals have been taken. Due to the circumstances, however, our first practical came towards the end of April. For this practical in our mannequins, we had to drill a distal-lingual prep on tooth #7 and we had to place a composite resin filling on the distal-lingual surface of tooth #10. From my undergraduate dental-shadowing experiences, I have seen procedures like this done plenty of times and every time the dentist has made it look so easy. Now having the opportunity to perform these procedures myself, I can say that it is in fact a little more difficult than just “drill and fill.” Trying to prep and restore teeth for the first time is kind of like trying to make the switch to veganism. You’ve seen plenty of others successfully make the jump, but when you attempt it you end up only lasting for two days because you accidentally only eat carrots for every meal thus causing you to lose 4 pounds in 2 days. Then, due to your weakened/malnourished state, you end up catching the flu—despite having gotten the flu shot a few months prior—thus forcing you to crawl right back to carnivorism. The metaphor doesn’t fit perfectly, but what I’m trying to say is that on your first attempt, your preparations and restorations might not go perfectly (and that’s okay!). With lots of practice and feedback from peers/instructors, both my preps/restorations have improved (and yours will too!).

In the NFL they say that “slow feet do not eat,” likewise, in the dental community I imagine they say “poor hand skills result in many law suits.” I cannot confirm that anyone actually says this of course, but I do believe the general sentiment behind this broad statement probably rings true. So, when all of you who are reading this blog eventually get into dental school make sure you put in those hours practicing in the pre-clinic! I had to practice many times to be able to perform these procedures in an acceptable fashion. But eventually, I promise you, the hand skills do come. My advice to anyone reading this is to make sure you utilize your out-of-class practice hours and have as many dental students and faculty check your work as you can. Everyone has different advice and feedback that will help make you a better clinician!

Stay tuned for the next blog with more updates from this year!

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