Thursday, May 17, 2018

a day in the life of a dental student: pulling teeth

Sharing another day in the life as a dental student. This one is all about pulling teeth! It's exhausting and hard work, but incredibly rewarding and I love it.  
a day in the life of a dental student pulling teeth 5
As a dental student, I have my own set of patients that I'm responsible for, but every 2-3 weeks I do a week-long rotation within one of the specialty dental clinics at the school...emergency, pediatrics, orthodontics, etc. Today's rotation is in the Oral and Maxillofacial Clinic (OMS), extracting teeth. Let's take a glimpse at my day, shall we? Don't worry though-no graphic photos. 

5:30AM I'm an early-bird. I grab a water bottle and start working on an assignment that is due tomorrow.

6:15AM I make myself some oatmeal with almond milk, apples, protein powder, walnuts, and cinnamon for first breakfast. While eating bites of oatmeal, I use a banana to practice my suturing. It's something that I'm slow at and am working to be faster on.

7AM I get showered and dressed in my scrubs for the day. I do minimal make-up and toss my hair into a bun since everything will be covered by a facemask anyway. Then I take the dog out and feed him breakfast. 

7:45AM I grab a boiled egg, granola bar, and a coffee for second breakfast to go on my way out the door. 

a day in the life of a dental student pulling teeth 1

8AM Lecture: I have a lecture on dental materials. I'm only paying attention off and on though. I sit drinking my coffee and eating my granola bar, while I review the medical histories and x-rays of my patients for the day. 

8:45AM I can see that my first patient is already here, so I leave class a little early and head to the OMS Clinic to get my operatory set up. I wipe everything down, cover it in plastic barriers, and begin setting out the instruments that will be needed. My partner arrives shortly after I do and we have a quick chat about the patient since they are taking more than 20 different medications with some serious health issues. 

9AM I head out to the waiting room to grab the first patient, while my partner finishes setting up. I say something trivial about the weather and turn around to see that the patient has stopped walking and is crying in the hallway. This happens pretty regularly so I've learned be be part dentist and part therapist. I don't rush the patient, we just stand there with me comforting her. After a little coaxing, I take her hand and convince her to come with me. We decided to use nitrous (laughing gas) for this patient to make things easier on her. I monitor the levels while my parter extracts 3 teeth. We get a check from our faculty and send the first patient off. We get the operatory cleaned up, sanitized, and set up for the next patient. 

10:30AM Our second patient has tooth roots associated with an infection, but the majority of the actual tooth is gone. After getting the patient numb, I end up having to use a scalpel blade to cut away the overgrown gingiva (gum tissue) in order to get the pieces of roots out. I get a quick check from my faculty to make sure that I got everything. I did. I pack antibiotic powder medication directly into the now empty tooth socket and stitch the patient up. 
a day in the life of a dental student pulling teeth 2

11:30 One last patient for the morning. We see a post-op patient with dry socket. It's a quick diagnosis. We clean the area and send the patient off with a prescription for antibiotics and pain management. 

12PM It's Lunch Time. I run home just long enough to take the dog out and grab some leftovers from the fridge. I eat my lunch at school during a club meeting. 

1PM I'm back in the clinic for the afternoon. Reviewing the medical history with my faculty, my patient has an infectious disease (HIV) so we spend some extra time discussing protocols to reduce the patient's chance of infection from the extractions because their immune system is compromised. I extract 5 teeth on this patient: 2 molars, 2 bicuspids, and a front tooth. You guys I am drenched in sweat and so tired from being on my feet at this point, but I get it done. 
a day in the life of a dental student pulling teeth 3
Since the five teeth I took out are all next to each other, I get to stitch the patient up with the continuous locking suture that I practiced on my banana this morning. I get it done quickly and my faculty is impressed, which is good since everything we do during the day gets graded as points towards graduation. Glad I practiced. 

2:52PM After I walk the patient out, I sneak off and chug a liter of water. I'm ready to call it a day, but there is still plenty to do. 

3PM Our next patient doesn't show, which is not a problem. There is a line of patients that came in through the emergency clinic. We pull the most urgent case and seat that patient. I assist my partner while they extract 2 teeth. 

5:05PM Almost everyone has left for the day since the clinic officially closed 5 minutes ago. I'm just sticking around so I can get all my patient notes from the day done and logged in the medical record system before I head home. While I'm sitting there, I overhear that a patient has been sent over to us from the hospital for our oral surgeon to see. I poke my head out to see a woman whose cheek is so swollen that it looks like she has a golf ball in her mouth. I ask if I can stay and watch and he tells me that I can acutally help if I want. We get the patient numb and the oral surgeon uses a scalpel to cut into the inside of the bottom of her cheek to drain the swelling. We call this an incision and drainage procedure. He let's me help to place a tube that will help remove fluids. I'm so so so glad that I stayed after school for this. 

6PM I'm finally home. I literally get undressed as soon as I walk into the door and toss my scrubs right into the wash because their is blood on my pants. I take a nice long shower. 

6:45PM I put dinner in the oven and take the dog on a quick walk while I talk to my husband on the phone for the first time all day. It stinks being long distance while we are both in grad school. Thankfully, my days are so busy most of the time that I don't have much of a chance to think about it. 

7:15PM I eat a dinner of baked salmon and asparagus. I end up having a coffee with my dinner because otherwise I will totally fall asleep now. After dinner, I toss my wet scrubs into the dryer. 

7:30PM I finish up the assignment that I started at 5:30 this morning and get that submitted since it's due tomorrow. Then I work on making a treatment plan for my patient that I will see next week. 

9:30PM I decide that I can't do anything else productive for the day. I take the dog out one last time, start the dishwasher, do my nighttime routine, and then hop into bed. 
a day in the life of a dental student pulling teeth 4

10PM I have one last conversation with the husband over the phone. Then, I'm up for another hour blogging and on social media. Basically, just winding down from my day.

11PM Bed 

Day in Review 
Hours in Clinic: 8
Hours in Class: 1
Number of Teeth Extracted: 6 
Hours Slept: 7
Hours Studied: 3.5 
Steps on FitBit: 14,782
Meals Cooked: 2 
Hours Exercised: 0

linking up with Girl Chat//Thinking out Loud//


  1. This is so interesting! I loved reading this. I hate to admit this, but I would probably be that patient crying in the hallway, or even worse, I'm known to pass out :( Sierra Beautifully Candid

    1. Haha! Yes I had people cry and faint. It’s actually so rewarding to interact with someone whose that afraid or nervous and to get them through it. It’s just part of the process, I think everyone needs a people person to be their dentist

  2. I love reading about your life as a grad student in the dental field. Such a cool day!! Thanks for sharing and linking up!

  3. Reading this was so neat! I love the picture of you practicing on a banana - that so clever and sounds like it definitely came in handy.

    1. yea I don’t know how I thought to use a banana peel. Ha! Some people use hotdogs to practice!