Updated: May 7
By Hibah Abrar
‘Ew, why would you want to look inside people’s mouths?’
Truth is dentistry is far much more than just ‘looking inside people’s mouths.’ It’s connecting with a patient, building a rapport and taking their social life, medical problems and expectations all into consideration, in order to give them the best care possible. All whilst combining the skill of an artist, with the expertise of a professional.
One of my favourite aspects of being a dental student is how hands-on and practical the course is. It’s never solely theory and before you know it, you’re already picking up instruments and drilling away at plastic teeth. This is extremely engaging, as you develop new techniques and learn about new treatments side by side. You also have first-hand clinical experience early on, by starting to see patients. Although this is daunting, it’s also very exciting and makes you feel like more than just a student.
Seeing patients and meeting a range of new people, from all ages, races and backgrounds is enlightening and learning about them is an honour. As a healthcare professional, you are given ample opportunities to help, whether it be from a simple conversation whilst prepping the patient or through direct treatment. And although you’re there to help them, it’s worth noting that there’s something valuable to learn from each and every individual patient. What’s more, is regularly following up with them through appointments, cultivating relationships and watching them progress in their lives. In dentistry, each patient and treatment are a journey that you’ll see through from start to finish, whilst observing the positive outcome that you’re making. The final results and patient’s reactions are nothing less than rewarding. Be it whether they can finally smile with confidence, or simply eat, the impact you can make in one life is huge.
Another reason why I love dentistry is being able to appreciate all the unexpected links that general health has to oral health. The human body is complex and interconnected, and many systemic conditions have a huge knock-on-effect on oral health. This not only strengthens the bond between you and the patient, by taking all of their health conditions into consideration during examination, but also allows you to value the need for holistic care and working in an interdisciplinary team. As a dentist, you can truly grasp how teamwork is essential and is empowering when helping a patient. As mentioned earlier, since we see our patients on a more regular basis, we are able to pick up systemic conditions early on. Conditions such as diabetes, thrombocytopenia and even cancer can be suspected quickly, allowing the patient to seek treatment and have it controlled.
Studying dentistry has also allowed me to practice artistic skill and precision. I have always thoroughly enjoyed arts and crafts, whether it be henna, painting and even icing. Doing procedures such as cutting out a cavity or crown preparation and building up teeth using materials requires a similar level of precision, skill and control. Working so intricately is enjoyable, especially when you see your work improve overtime. Practice makes perfect!
Lastly, being a student is great, as there’s a huge scope of learning resources. You’re given a lot of independence and instead of being spoon-fed. Essentially, your education is very much in your hands. You can adapt your learning to how you deem fit, even if it means reading endless textbooks, watching YouTube videos or practicing on phantom heads.
Being a dentist is being a doctor, engineer and artist all in one. I hope you gained some insight from this read, and I wish anyone reading all the best in their future endeavours!