Thursday, January 31, 2013

Counting months with orthodontics appointments

A year is 525,600 minutes
365 daylights, sunsets, midnights
a shizzimble load of coffee


I’ve been counting my last three months, week by week with my orthodontics appointments. This last month went by really fast. My ortho appointment creeped up on my Google calendar before I realized it had been a month since my last braces check-up.

I got green rubber bands today because I was wearing a teal cardigan. I just finished watching Heathers on Netflix and was thinking match-matchy one color! (Picture)



I had stopped wearing my tongue crib because of a painful spot in my mouth. Before running out to my appointment I took a look in the mirror and saw two raised spots where it was hurting. I immediately thought: erupting tooth!!

After seeing so many dental radiographs (and anomalies) I thought I had one too. A tooth erupting late on the hard palate on the inside of my mouth (like in this case article- don’t click if you’re squirmy). Gulp. I was trying to think how big of a surgery it would be to remove that tooth… and when can I afford to take time off for surgery? And as soon as I sat in the dental chair, I announced to my orthodontist: “I have an extra tooth erupting on my palate. Help?!!!”

Turns out it’s from my tongue crib hitting that spot, causing a lesion that happened to look like a tooth was coming out. #dentalstudentheartattack.

Progress is good! Bottom braces probably at my next appointment. I left with a thicker wire and green rubber bands. And a reminder to pay more attention to my molars when brushing.

January thank-you’s: cold and nostalgia

Hope everyone’s staying warm out there! I’ve been wearing coats on top of my jackets. I made lemonade out of this cold and I left my yogurt outside my window before I went to bed. When I woke up, I had some delicious nature-frozen yogurt.

Look at Schuylkill frozen over. We walked to Center City for lunch at Farmer’s Cabinet. This was part of Philadelphia Restaurant Week.

I forgot that I wanted to do these monthly thank you’s! Here’s last one I did was in October. This is when I could finally run a mile after my ankle mess.

2013-01-27 11.31.59

1. First: the cold. I’ve been loving this snow and the cold, and I figured out why. It reminds me of growing up in Korea! I remember one morning I had to walk to school in a foot of snow. We lived along the river and the water was frozen over with snow piled on top. I remember walking really slow so I wouldn’t slip.

2. Care packages. Umma sent me another care package. Among all the wonderful things she put in this box, I love the front page of this Korean newspaper the day after our presidential election. I am getting more and more excited about my summer break from dental school.

2013-01-27 15.24.23

3. Being bold paying off. Getting out of my comfort zone takes a lot of courage (rejection sucks) but I am always glad when I do. Our common resolution this year was to be bold and so far, it’s been good. I’ve had some good conversations with people… the kind you jot down notes afterwards.

4. Netflix I just watched The Whistleblower multi-tasking while studying for dental school (this video of Warblers doing Whistle just makes me LOL). There’s a ton of movies I’ve been meaning to watch on Netflix… ohheywait I hear February is like dental school death.

What should I watch next on Netflix?!
What are you thankful for this first month of 2013?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

my dental loupes are here!

I’m excited to announce a new partnership between D is for Dentist and Designs for Vision. (I wrote about ordering my Designs for Vision loupes just last week.) My dental loupes arrived earlier than expected. I got the package slip in my mailbox and ran to the mailroom for pickup.

2013-01-25 16.32.37

I’m giddy and playing around with the box and the packaging and the loupes and LED lights. My very own dental loupes! It’s so light and sleek. I love them already. I’ll write more about them soon, after my radiological anatomy exam is over.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

problem in access to dental care

At our journal club this month, we discussed this article Giving Voice to a Silent Epidemic in Oral Health by Dr. Robert Collins. Dr. Collins (who is a professor here at Penn) talks about the lack of dental care in low socioeconomic or minority populations in rural areas. He also proposes solutions to solve this problem including more dental schools and the controversial dental auxiliaries.

I saw a dentist for regular check-up’s growing up. I didn’t know that people didn’t go to the dentist. For us it was like going to get your haircut or getting your regular eye check-ups. But I also spent the majority of my childhood in Korea where we have universal healthcare.

The thought of someone going to ER for a toothache is unfathomable. From my experience, the ER is not a pleasant place to be waiting for hours, especially when you are in awful pain.

Some disturbing facts:

In 2000, Florida spent $88 million in emergency dental care. It averages out to $765/dental ER visit. On average, a dental cleaning costs $150.

Often times dental ER visits are returns. In Minnesota in 2012, 20% of ER dental patients returned to the ER. Because the ER often has no dentists (or dental X-ray machines) the solution is a temporary patch-up of painkillers or extractions.

120329_DentistsSee the full infographic here at Frugal Dad

As dentists, we are not only filling cavities and pulling teeth but also taking charge of the oral health of our communities. We emphasized that it’s important to go beyond the technical aspects of being a dentist (someone said “what differentiates from barbers?” Barbers used to do teeth extractions too) and think about the impact of our profession on the community.

Some thoughts:
What would it take for you to practice in an underserved area? Especially if you are not from that area?
(We discussed long-term student loan repayment programs and training programs offering job placement help at the end, similar to some nursing programs.)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

real winter philadelphia (timing)

You know it’s winter in Philadelphia when…

you hop into a grocery store just to warm up.
(and this grocery store is a block away from home)

your snow pictures look just as legitimate as Ithaca’s.


your hand cream supply is rapidly depleted.
(and your skin is a palest shade of pale)

2013-01-26 10.01.10

I’m loving this 18-degree weather. It’s about time! And speaking of time I want to tell you about a funny(?) or interesting discussion I had with my dad. Talking about a unique opportunity, I quoted John H. Shedd:


… to which my dad replied “but the ship has to go out when it’s ready.” Because remember Les Miserables? (picture)


This ship was definitely not ready to go out into the waters.

Have you played in the snow yet?
How does a ship know when it’s ready to sail out from its safe harbor?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Ordered my Designs for Vision loupes!

I ordered my dental telescopes/loupes! First professional dentist purchase. I’ll be getting them just in time for General Restorative Dentistry coming up.

I decided to go with Designs For Vision for my dental telescope/loupes. (I learned that these mean the same thing.) I tried on the different options in Dental Simulations and decided on Designs For Vision in the end. Here’s why…


1. Image clarity

The images through these Designs for Vision loupes are crisp and clear. Since I also got the Student Combo pack with LED DayLite UltraMini, the combined view with this bright light was like having magic eyes.

PastedGraphic-1 (1)

Designs for Vision considers magnification the most important feature of dental telescopes & accurately magnifies the image size 2.5 times with a 2.5X product. In fact, there is a huge difference even among 2.5x magnification images across different companies.

2. Adjustable working distance throughout dental school

As part of my fitting process (which I’ll write about soon), we measured my working distance. Kevin- our company representative- had brought in a mannequin for this. He asked me to pull up a chair and sit up as if I were working. Well, I’ve only worked on mannequins in DentSim, not real patients... I pulled up close and asked him, “Does this look right?” #amateurdentist.

The good thing is that Designs For Vision will adjust your working distance free of charge throughout dental school. This is good news for dental students like me as we’re still learning to be ergonomic dentists.

3. Customer service

Kevin, who is the company representative for University of Pennsylvania, has been so knowledgeable and patient throughout my loupe decision & selection process! In addition to dropping by Penn every week, he’s always accessible by email (or phone if you were clueless like me). In an attempt to educate myself on different loupes and magnifications and every overwhelming information out there, Kevin and I had many email marathons…. in which he answered my questions and followed up promptly every single time.


I told you I have a flat Asian profile which makes trying on glasses in America a little bit tedious… I must admit I tried on the frames a gazmillion frames before choosing the new SkyView frames. I didn’t know what to look for in a well-fitting frame, and Kevin guided me through this selection process as well.

And because these loupes are a lifetime purchase, I feel pretty good knowing I have a great representative to back me up.


Now I’m just waiting for my loupes to arrive. My loupes are probably being made in New York this moment… they will be soon on their way and I couldn’t be more excited!

This post is sponsored by Designs for Vision. You can find out more about Designs for Vision here or find your area representative here. You can also contact our Philadelphia area’s rep Kevin Mayock at if you have any questions!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

summer plans and self-reflection

My summer plans are shaping up. After having this on my constant to-do list, I finalized my dates to go to Korea and bought my airplane tickets. I’ll be splitting my time between Philadelphia and Seoul. Hopefully lots of traveling and writing. (And maybe more of this giving dogs baths-thing.)

It was a huge relief to cross this off my to-do list. Two months off from dental school sounds wonderful.


Dental school is tougher than ever. I’ve been really discouraged by the last few exams. In case you think I’m crying about a 88 I’ll tell you I was four points away from failing.

Sometimes I think I can get by with doing “just enough”… but I have goals and dreams that require hard work. I don’t expect things to fall into my lap. Here’s a good read from the New York Times on the importance of self-reflection using “double-loop learning”.

In interviews we did with high achievers for a book, we expected to hear that talent, persistence, dedication and luck played crucial roles in their success. Surprisingly, however, self-awareness played an equally strong role.

The successful people we spoke with… subjected themselves to fairly merciless self-examination that prompted reinvention of their goals and the methods by which they endeavored to achieve them.

dreamsvia tumblr

Over lunch I had an interesting conversation with two of my friends on how we want to live our lives. And I figured out two things: 1) People have wildly different world views! Even my brother and I- who grew up in the same family and backgrounds- see things very differently. 2) My world views are still shifting/ changing/ forming… I am not set in my beliefs and I doubt they’ll stay the same. (Kind of a similar point I made earlier.)

Every day you wake up and make the decisions- and changes- that shape who you are. You talk to people and meet friends who’ll change you and (hopefully) grow with you. And I think that’s a wonderful thing: that you can work to make these changes happen.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My take on Mabel’s frittata…

I used Mabel’s frittata recipe from her guest post last week and made these vegetarian ones. I took Mabel’s advice and just added leftovers vegetables from my fridge into the egg+milk mixture. Soy milk works too.


Her tip of cooling the frittata flipped upside down is very important so the bottom doesn’t get soggy. Mine came out shaped like a gingerbread man. I ate two of his limbs for late brunch.

I picked up this gingerbread man silicone pan over winter break and finally used it! Is it just me or do cute things just taste better?

These were so mushy savory delicious, so easy to chew with my braces-bound teeth.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

pop culture dentist: Noah from Suburgatory

I wrote about a few of the dentists in our contemporary pop culture last year. I love watching ABC’s Suburgatory (when I’m not studying for dental school, of course) and one of the dentists I mentioned, Dr. Noah Werner, steals the show with his suave mannerisms and beach-ready tan.

Here’s a very relevant scene. To get his toddler tutored to get into an elite kindergarten, the Werners talk to Mr. Wolfe who specializes in this kinda thing. While they are talking, Baby Werner spells out “DDS” with wooden blocks.


Noah thinks his kid spelling out “DDS” as in Doctor of Dental Surgery. He says, “A lot of people make the mistake of thinking I have a DMD, but I have a DDS! And my kid knows that!”- or something like that. I LOL’ed.


Also from Dr. Noah Werner’s bio:

”After all his hard work putting himself through dental school, he decided he’d earned the right to let loose.”

Oh man. Too funny. Thank you, writers for understanding how tough dental school is. ;)

Walking around Philly Chinatown

Last week we had a day without morning classes. Although we had a quiz that afternoon, I took the morning off, giving myself a little break from dental school. This is the coolest thing about being a student: your schedule is way more flexible without somewhere to report to 9-5. After last year’s job, I’ve learned to appreciate this freedom a lot more.

I headed out to Chinatown with the rush hour crowd.


I finally got a haircut, peeked in grocery stores and got some shopping errands done. I stopped to grab some caffeine (I was yawning getting my haircut…) and got some Vietnamese coffee. Did you know you can make hot Vietnamese coffee? I couldn’t bear to walk around with an iced coffee in 40 degrees weather and changed my mind when the barista said, “We can make it hot.”

Walking around Philadelphia Chinatown with my coffee just made me so happy. Seeing familiar Korean foods in Chinese grocery stores- especially the persimmons- made me smile.

On my way back I walked past Rittenhouse Square and passed by a dozen Philadelphia landmarks. I kept thinking, “Oh, this is where this historic place/restaurant/theatre is!” It’s crazy how everything is within walking distance here in Philadelphia. Stores and restaurants don’t take up a giant block with their parking lots. Places are clustered together and the stores are often much longer than they are wide.

Meanwhile, in the place I miss so much:

2013-01-17 10.34.55

My mom sent me this picture. Yep, that’s three feet of snow. I don’t even know how this is real life. Korea’s hitting a record low in winter temperature this year.

What’s your favorite winter drink?
What are some other perks to being a student?

Monday, January 21, 2013

my long philly staycation

Do you notice anything different about this blog? I changed my profile picture on the right because of my dad’s constant pestering. ;) Okay, the old picture was about three years old when I was still a teenager. So maybe it was a good idea to change it up.

About my staycation in Philadelphia: I took 24 hours off from technology which… I forget how much we rely on technology to be late or to make last minute changes. I went to a birthday dinner & the host was getting “I’m late!” “I’m on my way!” texts 30 minutes into our appointment time.

I also caught up with family and friends over Skype. Korea’s getting three feet of snow in a record-breaking chilly winter. Here in Philadelphia we had sunshine early part of the weekend then snow Monday night.

2013-01-21 19.33.59

I also made a dent in my reading list. Have you read any of these? Different friends recommended these books in anthropology, contemporary literature, and geology.


Reading these is my attempt at filling in knowledge gaps. I finally made it over to the Penn Museum. I went with someone who’s a lot more knowledgeable in history & arts and… he sorta became my personal tour guide. Every exhibit I got a little primer on the history and religion of that region. Sorry-thank you-do it again?

2013-01-20 09.56.35

We have two exams this week, but I think now we can officially start counting down to spring break. 5 weeks!!!

Dental schools in Mexico: Q&A with Samuel

I had a unique opportunity to chat with Samuel who is a dental student in Mexico! Like me, he is in his first year of dental school. I have no idea how dental schools work in other countries, so this was a fun and informative chat.

He also reminded me what those delicious pastries I ate in Arizona are called: buñuelos! I want to take a vacation to Mexico just for their delicious foods… One thing Philly is missing is good Mexican food.

First, tell me a little about yourself.

My name’s Samuel. I’m from Acapulco, about 4 hours drive south from Mexico City where I live now. I’m in my first year at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. It is a resort town with great weather in the weather, so spending the winter breaks here is great.

I am a deep lover of Jazz and Classical music! In my free time I play the double bass. I am in an orchestra and also go on tours. I am also interested in getting to know foreign cultures through meeting new people with different backgrounds from mine.


Seeing how dentists take different paths in different countries, I asked about how it works in Mexico. Instead of applying after finishing an undergraduate degree, future dentists apply directly to a dentistry program in Mexico (Korea has been shifting from this system to graduate dental degrees).

After graduating from high school, you take the nationwide university admissions test which includes literature, mathematics with a special emphasis on biology and chemistry. If you have a high enough score (usually bio-medical departments require the highest scores), you can enroll into the dentistry department without a previous bachelor’s degree.

When we graduate from this 4-year program, we get the title “Dental Surgeon”. Some other universities give the title “Stomatologist.” Many people go on to get graduate degrees.

Their clinics look a lot like ours… including the see-through blue gowns.


Samuel also noted that because there are no core classes (literature, history, etc), this program is essentially a dentistry graduate program in America. How is your program structured?

We take basic science classes the first two years. Third and fourth year we are sent to one of the many clinics that the university owns for practice. We continue to take dentistry classes at the same time. Besides the 4 year program, we need to complete a full year of practice at a government health clinic as a requirement for graduation. This semester we have Masticatory system, Nervous and Endocrine system, Dental surgery, Preventive dentistry II, Radiology and English.

That’s similar to our schedule! What’s your day like? Do you have class 10-5PM?

The first two years we have 8 hours of class a day, from 7 am to 3pm. This is 2 classes per day, which means 4 hours each class! Sometimes I think it´s unnecessarily long…

I am not used to staying up and studying very late, so I get everything done by 11PM and go to sleep- or I try to. It doesn’t happen often. This is the hardest thing I’ve been facing while being a dental student.

Do you do anything for fun? Do you have time for fun?

As you know, dental school life is so busy that it is hard to do other things besides studying, but I try to do things that doesn’t involve thinking too much, like working out. I also take a few minutes to listen to relaxing music. I also cook for myself which helps distract me a little bit. Even during weekends I usually have tons of things to read!

Sam is in the middle of his two month break from school. He says that although he brought some books home for the break, he’s taking a break from school. It was so much fun chatting with him & learning about how dental schools work in Mexico! And to know how similar our dental school experiences are, even when we’re in different countries.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Blog spotlight: MD Cooks for Two.

Last semester I asked: how does a dental student stay healthy on a time crunch? And Mabel at MD Cooks for 2 came to my rescue.

She posts delicious recipes (sometimes Korean ones like this mini kimbap recipe) with cool medical facts she’s learning at school. Instead of my morning bagel routine, I wanted to have a easy go-to recipe I can keep in the freezer. I asked her specifically for a breakfast recipe that is protein rich and easy to make ahead. Enjoy.

Hi readers! I'm so honored that Yesle asked me to guest post for her blog. And that blogging has brought old college buds back together. I've been keeping up-to-date with the thoughtful musings of a dental student and definitely learned a few things about my teeth :D

I'm here today to share a breakfast recipe that can be easily made in batches and frozen. As students, we can never find the time to make breakfast and once we're in the lecture hall for 4 hours, our stomach growls like it has a mind of its own. Then lunch time rolls around and we're so tempted to wolf down the first thing we pizza and donut lunch anyone?

No more Freshman 15 (or 20 :/) for me again! Here's to eating a protein rich breakfast to get you through the day... I just clear my fridge of all leftover vegetables and deli meats, toss them into some eggs and milk, bake them into muffin pans, and throw them into a freezer ziploc bag. Every morning now, I can just pop these frittatas in the microwave for 30 secs and bring them to school.


Sausage, Mozzarella and Artichoke Mini Frittata
Makes 24 mini or 12 frittatas
5 eggs
1/4 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup chicken sausage, crumbled
1/4 cup artichoke hearts, diced
1 Jalapeño, seeded and diced
2 tbsp dried parsley
Salt + Pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 375F and grease mini muffin or full-size muffin pan.
  2. Prepare meats and veggies. Feel free to use any combo (ham & cheddar, spinach and cherry tomatoes). The possibilities are endless! Just saute in a little olive oil and season with some garlic salt.
  3. Beat eggs & milk, add filling and parsley, salt and pepper.
  4. Pour into muffin pan until quite full because it doesn't puff up too much
  5. Bake 8-10 mins or until firm and then flip them out to cool on a wire rack so you don't get soggy bottoms.


Healthy delicious breakfast, anyone? I’ll post my own photos of this mini frittata recipe soon. For more easy delicious recipes from Mabel, check out her blog here.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Decision fatigue. School fatigue.

Some decisions are huge and life-transforming (like deciding to come back to dental school- Nick wrote about this earlier this week). Others are smaller but just as exhausting when there’s many of them.

Last year I thought deciding what dental school to go to was difficult enough. And yet even when you are here in dental school, the difficult decisions don’t stop.

What should I do this summer?
Should I apply to a dual-degree program?
Should I go to this seminar?
Should I apply to a specialty program?
Stay in or go out?

Research shows that being flooded with decisions can wear you out and deplete your willpower. A few days ago I shopped for running gear (decisions, decisions) and had a quiz (another decision-making activity) in the afternoon. By the time I got home I just plopped on the bed exhausted.

I’ve also been trying to figure out my summer plans which has been pretty stressful. I’ll also admit that part of the reason for my big life change is decision fatigue. Don’t take me to Cheesecake factory.


This Forbes article on decision fatigue suggests that you should learn to deal with consequences instead. Don’t linger too much on the decision. Deal with the consequences (it may be regret).

I like this article about Marissa Mayer. She got into all the colleges & got every job. Her friend told her this when Mayer was deciding where to work (and Google wasn’t an automatic yes, so…):

“You’re putting too much pressure on yourself to choose the right one. I see a lot of good choices, one of which you’ll choose, and give everything to.”

I am lucky to have so many choices. That I have family in Korea and an apartment here in Philadelphia and friends in Beijing is great. Choose one and deal.

I wrote about making minor changes to your daily routine last summer. Here’s mine: I’ll take ten minutes to jot down pros/cons and make the decision. It’s up to me to make the best of my choice. And don’t sweat the big stuff.

Like choosing the picture for this post. I had so many to choose from. But I like this popcorn picture and somehow I made it fit by making the picture part of the point I’m making. See? I think that worked out.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

my upcoming staycation

The first week I got back was the busiest I’d been in a while. With dental school, we hit the ground running. We had one week off (which was just enough for me to get back into the dental school groove) before our first exam of the new year.

I know everyone likes to say they’re busy but was dental school this busy last semester? I don’t know… And with this guy visiting on his way back from Tampa, my first two weeks flew on by.

Find the two “people” in this photo:markmeow

Instead of trying to plan MLK weekend, I’m taking a Philadelphia staycation. Sometimes planning a vacation can be pretty stressful!  I’ll be tackling the mini-mountain in my inbox and walking around Philadelphia. I am also excited about reading over good coffee. Everything non-dental school related please.

imageHave you ever taken a staycation?
How are you spending/would you spend your Monday off?

How to make the financial decision to go back to dental school

Happy Thursday! Today I bring you a post from Nick at How2become on something that’s been on my mind a lot: career-changers. I wonder if I hadn’t found dentistry so early whether I would have the courage (and belief in myself!) to hop careers and come back to school. I enjoyed my job in Houston but I am glad I didn’t love it enough to stay.- update 1/10/15: links have been removed due to request from the writer.

There are several reasons people think about going back to dental school after a long period of employment in a different field. Especially in this economy, many people think about expanding their skills set to gain a competitive edge. Dentistry is a respected profession with a positive growth outlook. Or it may be that you have realized it is your dream to study dentistry.

fork road decision decide choose choiceAt a crossroads… Picture
If you are considering going back to school there are a number of things that you need to consider. If you’ve already spent years and perhaps even decades building up a career and a life for yourself, the decision to study dentistry is not going to be an easy one. But before this is even a possibility, you must be honest about the reasons for going back to school and starting this journey. The next step will be to find a dentistry program that fits you and your financial situation.

If you have already built up a career, you will be used to a certain level of financial stability. As a dental student, maintaining this level of comfort may be difficult if not possible. While you have the option of loan forgiveness, the military or pulling from your savings, dental school will be very expensive, not to mention you won’t be making any money during these four years.

Making the jump can be terrifying. Picture

Once you are sure you want to become a dentist, going back to school will largely depend on your ability to pay for it. If you also have a family to support, this will be a sit-down conversation with your family on how you will make this work. If dentistry truly is your passion, you should remember that going back to school is an investment in your future, and perhaps one that you cannot afford to give up. With further dental education come a comfortable lifestyle and a great job satisfaction.

richardmcmunnNick Anderson is a writer for How2become, a leading career and recruitment specialist. For the last 8 years has helped applicants prepare for and pass recruitment processes and assessment centers in order to secure their dream jobs. You can also find How2become on Google Plus.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Blog spotlight: The Dental Warrior

I love reading other blogs out there by dentists and dental students. If there’s other good dental blogs ones you read (or are writing!), will you please send me a link? Today I’ll share with you one of my favorite blogs from my newsfeed: The Dental Warrior.


Mike is a dentist practicing in Florida and a prolific blogger. He writes about working as a dentist (a patient walks in with a three ring binder of her medical history), current issues in dentistry, and new dental products.

I love reading his posts because he has such a strong blogging voice. His blog posts are really insightful because he presents his opinions with patient cases from his everyday work. Read about the importance of dental radiographs (and a dentist who reads them carefully!) here. This post on using dental loupes and magnification in his own practice is also great… especially if you’re shopping around for dental loupes like me.

Check out The Dental Warrior here.

Monday, January 14, 2013

After two months with braces

Tuesday morning I woke up and thought: today is going to be a painful day. I had my orthodontics appointment in the afternoon.

One perk of being in dental school: your classmates will notice your teeth are moving! During morning clinic, a classmate commented on my braces, “Your teeth look like they’re rounding out nicely! Good for you.”

While Mark was visiting, we decided (with my vast orthodontics wisdom) that he probably needs braces too. This means next summer we’re going to walk around Seoul in our matching braces… party on.

I met up with another friend to go to our Rice University alumni party that weekend. My friend hadn’t noticed that I had gotten braces for the longest time. Look at these cool silly bands from the party. They are Rice themed. And the future metalmouth couldn’t stop me:


At my appointment: a quick consult with the faculty advisor- yes to a thicker wire and adding “a step” in my wire. Now there is a square step in the wire between my lateral incisors and canines.

Next appointment I might be getting braces on my bottom teeth. The top teeth needed to move much more than the bottom ones, so these will come off at the same time eventually. I’ve had braces for more than two months now! That’s almost 10% of my treatment completed.

As for becoming matching-braces-siblings, braces (in some other blingier forms) are cool. Just google “Ryan Lochte” and “grills” (grillz?).


Saturday, January 12, 2013

How to be a healthy vegetarian

I just picked up A Vegetarian Sourcebook by Keith Akers and read…

“I have known vegetarians who lived mainly on white bread and jam, washed down with Coca-Cola”

This made me laugh in guilt and shame because while I’m trying to be more consistently vegetarian, I am not necessarily eating healthier. Here I add in this picture because this will also make you laugh in guilt and OMG. This is from the Shaytards Youtube channel my brother was watching.


With my vegetarian diet I’m eating a lot more grains and carbs and sneaking in many sugary/grainy treats. I love bread, even more so now that I have braces. The smushiness feels so good against my cheeks! It doesn’t help that I volunteer at a place with baked treats in the kitchen 24/7.

Helen made these! Lo and I ate them on our drive to Tucson.


A couple of friends and I are doing the Penn shape fitness challenge this semester. We start with a weigh-in and a physical this week and follow-ups at the end of this four-month period. I should eliminate the unhealthy things from my fridge aka stop picking up so many delicious pastries.

Friday, January 11, 2013

finally snow in Philly.

It finally snowed in Philadelphia! A friend and I were going to run to Chinatown last weekend (destination: Chinese pastries) and saw this instead. Slippery ice danger at every intersection.

2013-01-06 08.00.47

This is nothing like the snowstorm of 2011 but still, this is real cold white snow. We may not be getting the freezing blizzards in Korea but… this is snow enough for me.

2013-01-06 07.32.52

This made my day. First snow of 2013. Then we wondered… has it been snowing every day before, that we just didn’t see because everything melted away by the time we went outside? What else happens while we are sleeping?

Um. So we walked. And running really isn’t going. I need a motivation jump.

Motivation help?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thinking about dental loupes…

We’re starting our series of dental student purchases: first up is perhaps the most important dental tool- loupes. We also need to buy a stethoscope. (Does your dentist measure your heart pressure? It’s important to make sure you’re stable enough for dental treatments.)

At our first Dental Simulations rotation, we drilled without loupes. The first time I worked with dental loupes, I couldn’t believe how easier it was to see what I was doing.

loupeyloupeoverworked dental student meme

Last semester we had Lunch & Learn’s with three dental loupe companies that visited our dental school: Designs for Vision, Q Optics, and Orascoptic. I’ve tried out all of them during my rotations and I am not sure what I should get- yet. But couple of thoughts:

1) I’m going to wear contacts with my loupes 24/7, so the prescription lenses/wearing with glasses won’t be an issue for me.

2) I have a standard Asian face profile! I have really high cheekbones so some frames touch my cheekbones and leave an impression after a while. For others, the frames hit my cheekbones when I’m smiling.  (Solution: be a scary never-smiling dentist?)

3) I need a light frame/loupes/light combo. When I wear glasses, at the end of the day my nose bridge hurts a lot. Since I’ll be wearing these dental loupes all day errday, I need something that is light. I also need something that distributes most of the weight to my ear and doesn’t cause so much discomfort.

We’ll need these loupes when we start General Restorative Dentistry in the next few weeks. GRD lab seems to be where most dental students spend their lives! I’ve been told this is the real dungeon. But first! I need to check out the different loupes and make my decision soon. Good thing that our company representative have been coming by Penn every week.

Pretty soon I’ll need scrubs for clinic. And more professional clothes. Then business cards with appointment memos on the back. Then a dental practice? Okay little steps…

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Blog spotlight: ECG cookies from Erica’s Sweet Tooth.

We are wrapping up the cardiology section of Physiology. We learned how to read electrocardiograms and what better way to make it a little sweeter than to make ECG cookies?

I saw these pictures from Erica’s blog and had to show them off to everyone. See all of her ECG cookie photographs (and recipe!) here.

ECG Cookies8

Erica’s a genius. She is also a multi-talented dental student/blogger/baker. If you enjoy looking at beautiful pictures of beautiful foods… you need to add her blog to your feeder. Check out more of her posts at Erica’s Sweet Tooth.

And if you are thinking: aren’t you in dental school? Why cardiology? People tend to get nervous when they are at a dentist’s office. This increases blood pressure and heart rate, so we need to know how to recognize problematic heart patterns and to deal with them when an emergency arises. In addition, we need to know about different cardiac medications our patients may be taking before numbing for a procedure or prescribing drugs.

Speaking of smart cookies… I love these Rothko cookies by Mimi O Chun (found via link here).


Make inspired cookies! This one is always on my to-do list.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Best is yet to come.

Bruce sent me a link to this New York Times article “Why You Won’t Be the Person You Expect To Be”. It discusses a new study by Dr. Dan Gilbert from Harvard that’ll be published in this issue of Science.

There’s a lot of details you can read at the link, but the essential points:

- You continue changing past your teenage years, past your 20’s into your 60’s.
- People underestimate how much they will change in the future, although they are aware they’ve changed in the past. This has been termed “the end of history illusion.”

2012-05-19 11.07.18

Over winter break, we were talking about how much more we’d appreciate college if we just started as we are now. I would take more humanities classes to give myself a liberal education. I would also pick up more practical skills.

In some ways I like that time will give us some separation from ourselves-back-then. I think about forgiveness a lot… not because I committed some grand theft auto back in the day but because it’s something I struggle with. What if I’d gone for it? What if I had said this… or not said that? (See: word vomit.) It’s difficult not to dwell on the past, maybe because I think I would be at a different place if A had happened or B hadn’t happened.

But it’s never too late. Because we don’t ever stop changing. There’s always room for us to improve.


I especially like this quote from the article:

“Middle-aged people- like me- often look back on our teenage selves with some mixture of amusement and chagrin… our future selves will look back and think the very same thing about us. At every age we think we’re having the last laugh, and at every age we’re wrong.”

Laugh. Don’t take yourself so seriously. (In middle school I loved Avril Lavigne. I even went to her concert!- okay, I still like her so that didn’t change.) Laugh at yourself now: you will definitely laugh at you later.

You can also check out the NPR article on the same study “You Can’t See It, But You’ll Be A Different Peron In 10 Years.” (I love the comments on this one.)

How do you hope to change in the next five years?
What was your favorite song in high school?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Les Miserables: brown teeth everywhere.

Did anyone else notice how awful everyone’s teeth were in Les Miserables? The main actors (of course) had great straight teeth that were only stained to look 19th century French. But many of the minor characters had crooked teeth that were all over the place.

Here’s Fantine played by Anne Hathaway. She sells her teeth (you can kind of see in the picture). Her teeth are also heavily stained brown.


In the last scene when Jean Valjean played by Hugh Jackman dies, when Fantine comes to take him away (presumably to God) she suddenly has perfect teeth, whitened and all. It was ridiculous!! I almost laughed in a theatre where everyone else was crying their eyes out.

And in real life, all the actors of course have perfect pearly white teeth.


I did not enjoy Les Miserables as much because 1) I was obviously paying more attention to actors’ teeth and 2) the singing didn’t blow me away!!! Even with all the other factors present, in its essence, a good musical has strong singers. In this case, I didn’t think this ensemble quite made the cut.

What did you think of Les Miserables?
Have you read the book or are you planning to?

Friday, January 4, 2013

Typical everyday dental school life

I wrote about what we’re learning in dental school. I’m always curious about what people do day-to-day. I’m constantly asking my friends in different fields, “So what do you actually do? What’s your every day like?” Here’s a typical day in the life of a dental student (here’s a post I wrote in September just a week after classes began).

7:20AM Wake up. Eat a non-leisurely breakfast, pack my lunch and head out the door. On days with a crazy evening schedule, I try to get my run in the morning.

8:00AM Arrive at school, I like to get to school early to print my slides (I’m an old-school hand note-taker), answer emails, and work on tasks not in my apartment.

At Penn we have classes between 10AM and 5PM most days. That’s three two-hour classes with an hour for lunch. Almost all of our classes are held in this room in the basement. Sometimes I get to school in the dark and leave in the dark. A vampire could go to dental school.

2012-10-02 15.15.01

Noon Lunches are for ASDA’s Lunch and Learns or for breaks with friends. Every time I get an email about ASDA Lunch & Learns it makes my day. These are informational sessions for vendors and companies to come and talk about their products/business. We’ve had medical insurance companies, personal finance management companies, companies making loupes… I learn a lot and there’s always free food.

2012-11-03 13.07.06

5:30PM Get home. A little break at home watching a TV show, reading, or chatting with friends. I also make dinner before heading back out.

7PM Library or any other study location at Penn. Focus fox until 9PM-ish.

2012-11-03 10.34.20

9PM Depending on how much work I have, I try to make it to the gym. I like going just before it closes because it’s not as crowded and it’s close enough to bed time.

11PM If I’m studying, I like to be home earlier than later. We do have a lot of crimes around the neighborhood- we get safety alerts almost every week. I stop by the grocery store on my way home.

Most weekdays are spent studying for dental school classes. But I take mini study-breaks every day by Skyping with family, trying a new vegetable, or planning my next escape from University City (like New York and Wissahickon). Or even something small like writing a long email to a friend.

When are you most productive in your day?