Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Philadelphia tourist weekend

My friend Tiffany visited me in Philadelphia this weekend. Tiffany currently works in Wisconsin with its wonderful farms and cheeses (but she doesn’t work on a farm…). Another Rice alum Kathy and I were so excited to have Tiffany visit us! Although she’s been to Philadelphia before, we wanted to show her the wonderful Philadelphia spots we’ve grown to love and appreciate.

So I took a break from my dental school life and enjoyed Philly as a tourist for one weekend. The Philly places I wanted to show Tiffany were Reading Terminal Market, Rittenhouse Square, Chinatown, Baltimore Avenue, Amtrak Station and Center City in general.


All this walking around Philly was offset by a lot of food. And I do mean a lot: I was never hungry, just different shades of full. We had Chinatown noodles, Mexican brunch lunch at El Vez, Ethiopian food on Baltimore, and Amish pastries at Reading Terminal. Oh and Yogorino and Capogiro desserts too. We have been spoiled by the diverse Houston foodie scene but Philadelphia definitely holds its own.

Hand drawn noodles in Chinatown:noodles

The newly rescheduled 30th Street Craft Market at Amtrak Station:
(They had so many cute prints and jewelry! I made some impulse purchases.) amtrakfair


And we ate a relaxing homemade brunch before Tiffany left for her flight. It was a weekend full of delicious food and inspiring chats. I was literally jotting down notes from our conversation so I could remember them later. Here’s something Kathy shared with us that I absolutely love:

A kid eats a steamed bun. He’s still hungry so he eats another. And another. After the fifth one he finally feels full. He says, “I should have picked this one so that I could’ve been full sooner!”


Every time I spend time with Tiffany I gain new perspectives and fresh insight on my world view. And because everyone needs a Tiffany in her life, Tiffany is going to be starting her very own advice column very soon. ;)

It was a lovely weekend to see this Philadelphia I’ve taken for granted the last few months. I forgot that I was a dental student these last few days. Sunday night was a bit of a scramble but this weekend= definitely worth it.

Monday, February 25, 2013

root canal at Houston Zoo

I’m the person people send all dental/dentist/teeth links to! I caught up with Enstin this weekend & she told me about a recent root canal procedure done in Houston on a rescued bobcat.

Picture from linked articlebobcat-closeupsmall

He got six root canals done in two hours! Are all veterinarians trained to do dental procedures on animals? I don’t know, but this is too cool. I see a dental handpiece! (Also I miss my Houston.)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

modern teeth problems

Researchers at University of Adelaide published a new paper looking at DNA in dental plaque found in prehistoric skeletons. According to this paper headed by Dr. Alan Cooper and published in Nature Genetics, we have a less diverse bacterial population in our mouths with “domination” by caries-causing bacteria.

The researchers pointed to food revolution (increase in processed foods and sugars) as a key culprit in this bacterial population shift.

256516-ancient-teethPicture here

I went to a talk titled "Preventing, Treating, and Reversing the 15 Leading Causes of Death” by Dr. Michael Gregor. His presentation (and the videos on NutritionFacts.org) was so visually beautiful! The information he presented was also fascinating. Many of the top causes of deaths are stoppable, treatable, and reversible with a diet change (Dr. Gregor recommends a vegan diet free of all animal products). This got me thinking about maybe going that vegan route…but yogurt??? Also if the study is any indication, I wonder if paleo dieters have a lower risk for caries.

Dr. Gregor also noted that doctors rarely make dietary recommendations because 1) doctors have little to no nutrition training- average is 22 hours of instruction and 2) they don’t believe patients will make the changes. And the first point is true for dental students too, although here at Penn dental we learn how to analyze patients’ diets and make recommendations for healthy changes.

What would you miss the most if you became vegan?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

teeth wax-ups

It’s been a busy week.

We started with wax-up’s with our new dental toys. From 9-noon, I’ve been in the lab waxing up teeth. With seventy Bunsen burners and seventy brains eating up glucose it gets hot in herr fast.

In case you don’t know (I didn’t know what “waxing up” meant before I sat in our dental lab the very first day), we learn teeth anatomy, occlusion and such by melting up wax to build up (and carve) teeth models.

This picture is from Patrice at Stu-DENT diaries (another dental student blog I read!):

Our General Restorative Dentistry professor told us that she likes to stock up on tissues this time of year. Her favorite saying is “every flower blooms at a different time.” And ohmygosh, I haven’t been this bad at something in a long time.

I went back to check the contact on my premolar Tuesday evening and the tooth cracked on me. A piece broke in the mannequin and half of my tooth wax-up fell out of the jaw onto the floor.

I just stared at the little blue piece of wax on the floor. That was five hours of work. That was five hours of work.

Thankfully I was much faster second time around.


Waxing up teeth is not easy for me yet, but it’s definitely getting fun. Can you enjoy something you suck at?

Colgate’s genius floss ads

These ads for Colgate’s floss are genius. What do you notice about these photos?


If you were distracted by the pieces of food stuck in unfortunate places, go back and look for other things wrong with the photographs… like six fingers.

I think being in dental school is fun because the environment opens up more conversations about teeth and oral hygiene! We are all such nerdy dental students sometimes. (“Let me see your lateral incisor cingulum?” “Can I see your Cusp of Carabelli?”)

On a somewhat related note, this week I walked around an entire afternoon with a piece of blue wax (from our dental lab) stuck on my cheek.

How genius are these ads?
Did these ads make you want to floss every day?

Monday, February 18, 2013

a week with dental lab (and no coffee)

Lab has started and I’m already getting eye strain and neck pain from waxing teeth all day long.

For lab we received boxes and boxes of stuff: instruments, Bunsen burners, wax, amalgam materials, contact papers… everything we need for the dental laboratory portion this upcoming year. We are starting with wax-up’s so we put away most of the stuff for later use.

2013-02-11 09.37.04

Distribution days was like Christmas. And everything came so well-organized and labeled that setting up my drawers/lockers wasn’t as stressful or overwhelming as I thought.

This weekend I took a study break and caught Pan-Asian Dance Troupe’s annual dance show at the Iron Gate Theatre. If you were in the show (or a dancer), omg you are amazing. The dancers did stuff with their bodies I can’t even describe. And the choreography was so creative!

I was in awe especially because I don’t have such a show-off-ey talent. I don’t have “magic dental hands” I could show off- yet. Someone called our tooth identification exam this week wrong, calling it a “tooth identity” exam. Um, my little waxed teeth might actually have that problem.

2013-02-16 20.52.29

Speaking of stage-ready talents, Tiffany is visiting me from snowy Wisconsin at the end of this week! (She did an impromptu stand-up routine when we visited Chicago!) She gives me the most insightful and heartfelt advice, so I’m looking forward to spending a lot of time with this lovely lady.

Oh and life without coffee is hard. But it’s good because I take naps instead of drinking coffee. I’ve been sleeping so much lately! I come back from class and take three hour naps. I wonder if I’ve been consistently sleep deprived.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Roots before branches

Any Glee fans out there? I loved the last episode of Season 3. I don’t think I’ve cried so much at a TV show in my life. Good thing I wasn’t watching it at the gym.

I always try to keep up with Glee even when we have crazy dental school schedules. I especially love the Warblers and New Direction’s scandalous choices (the Sadie Hawkins dance episodes’ choreography was a little PG-13). It’s my weekly dose of musicals! And now that characters are transitioning out of high school into dental school real lives, I can relate to the whole changing circumstances, staying true to yourself, and finding yourself in a new environment.

In case you don’t remember, this is the scene where Rachel thinks she’s going to get married but Finn instead drives her to the train station to leave to New York. He also breaks up with her so she can follow her dreams. That sounds really weird typed out like that… but you can watch it for yourself here.

It is also real-life bittersweet because most of the cast members graduate in this episode.

glee-goodbye-train-29aPicture source: Just how adorable does everyone look here?

Rachel has done a 180 degree change since coming to New York. The last episode alluded to this but the hair, the new boyfriend, the new empowered actress? I want to sing this song back to her: roots before branches, girl. And this line is my favorite:


What television show do you keep up with (even when your schedule gets hectic)?
Have you watched Glee? Which character is your favorite?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Healthcare at Crossroads by Dr. Zeke Emanuel

I had a rare opportunity to attend an evening seminar by Dr. Zeke Emanuel. He writes for the New York Times, has published several books, and served as Obama’s health care advisor. He is also a great lover of food! I was surprised to find that he’d written many articles about food and cooking for the Atlantic.

Everyone’s looking to the next few years (and the next administration) for big changes in healthcare, both with new policies and the aging baby boomer generation. I was always more focused on the research aspect, so this lecture was very insightful.

A couple of notes from the lecture:

  • Demand for luxury goods tend to increase with increasing GDP. Interestingly, healthcare behaves the same way- like a luxury good (picture from this blog):


  • Productivity of healthcare providers has gone down! (Education providers have also gone down in productivity.)
  • Case studies of efficient healthcare clinics showed that they used specialization and data-driven tools (to monitor health status and changes). They also looked after the mental health of patients by providing psychological help and decreasing wait time for test results. It’s important to treat patients as full human beings, not just as mouths or sodium tanks.
  • Why aren’t healthcare costs transparent? We should push for healthcare price transparency to better gauge cost value of care given at one hospital versus the other.

Something about the last point: I’ve always wondered this. Even at dental offices, the price at the end was a mystery number that seemed to come out of nowhere. I couldn’t compare prices at dental offices because the costs seemed to depend on so many factors… which is why I’m surprised there are so many dental Groupon deals.

It was a great informative evening. And I do love Di Bruno Brothers

happy gum disease awareness month <3

Here in Pennsylvania February is gum disease awareness month. I am serious. Did you also know February 6th is Toothache Day? February seems to be a big day for holidays, including Valentine’s Day yesterday.

Did you eat a lot of sweets? Heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast? Pick up flowers for someone special (or yourself)?

Valentine’s day sneaked up on me. This week we had an exam sandwich and Valentine’s day fell right in between. So my day looked like this:


I spent the evening studying and catching up with a dear classmate- dental school’s been so busy we barely had time to talk. Walking home I saw many many flowers and chocolates and shopping bags. I swear every restaurant had set up their tables to seat for two. I overheard someone say this: “there is so much love today!”- yes, I think it should be like this every day.

Last Valentine’s Day was a stressful affair for me. Sometimes Valentine’s Days just fall on inappropriate timelines of a relationship.

Valentine’s day isn’t just about romantic love. There’s love for friends, professors (ahem), your family, and yourself. Or just beautiful things, like these tulips. I can’t wait until they bloom.


Happy Valentine’s day & gum disease awareness month everyone! Hope you had a day filled with love and kindness. Now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go pick up all the leftover chocolates to stow me over until Halloween…

What was the highlight of your Thursday/Valentine’s Day?
What holiday are you more excited about: V-day or Toothache Day?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

six weeks of sleep + no caffeine

It might be an understatement to say dental school’s been stressful lately. In studying for our last physiology exam, we studied the different hormones. We learned about the actual physiological effects constant pathological stress has on our body. We become more irritable, get headaches, and have low-functioning immune systems. That explains a lot of things…

2013-02-11 19.33.44

This Wednesday marks beginning of Lent, or Ash Wednesday. One year my best friend and I decided to give up gossiping. In theory it was a great idea but every time we’d just say “oh, but that's not gossip, that’s a discussion…”. What I mean to say is that it was a big failure.

This year I am saying bye to coffee. (I say this while watching The Perfect Cappuccino on Netflix.) And hand in hand with this, getting more sleep by making better use of my time.

I’ve been going to meditation sessions and falling asleep at each one! As relaxing as it is, I don’t mean to snooze- but I do, which means I’m probably sleep deprived.

Good evening and good night!

a year since “chart your course”

Exactly one year ago I attended the annual Women in Leadership Conference at the Jones Business School. I got some much-needed advice and chatted with many inspiring women (you can read my notes from my old blog here). The theme for 2012 had been “Chart Your Course”.

After I got back, I planned out some milestones in my life (my idea for 25 before 25 came out of this conference). Most of these were personal, non-career goals. But my most important goal had been simply: figure out where I want to go in my career.


I was in such a weird phase at the time. I was in between schools, loving the work I was doing and doubting my decision to not pursue a PhD. All the while I was flying out for dental school interviews every week and talking to family friends who had settled into happy careers, including a few dentists and dental school professors. For a brief month I even considered going back to Korea for dental school.

To prepare for this post, I was looking back in my notes and one thing stood out to me from the closing talk by Ambassador Cynthia Shepard Perry:

6.  Don't limit yourself. Look around. Remember this quote by Robert Browning: "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp. Or what's a heaven for?"

I still haven’t found what I’m looking for- emphasis on what. My interests are pretty eclectic and unrelated to dentistry (Alex and I talk about dropping out and spending our days writing poetry all the time), but this alone shouldn’t bother me.


So far I’ve been happy to find that dental school didn’t limit my future. Instead it introduced me to many more opportunities out there.

So who knows what I’ll be doing in five years? Or where I’ll be living? I think the key is not to be afraid of this uncertainty… Gulp. If you know me at all you know I plan out everything. But to be comfortable with this lack of planning- and to be freed from “Oh, I need to do A right now to get to B” is pretty liberating.

Monday, February 11, 2013

happy new lunar year!

Sunday was the most beautiful sunny day. After my conflicted post about peace (or lack of), I walked outside in the beautiful sun to see this PEACE sculpture. It’s made of metal, so it gleams and shines with the sun. It’s twenty times more beautiful when the sun is around.

That moment I was the happiest person in that quad. (This quad has like three libraries so most people out here were studying for exams on a beautiful Sunday morning… not happy.)

2013-02-10 12.55.18

… also because Saturday was freezing. I went to an outdoor workout thinking it was going to be indoors. After doing burpees on the snowy ground with bare hands, I thought my career as a dentist was over. My hands were red, throbbing, and frozen solid. But I survived to see this gorgeous sunshine the next day.

It is officially the beginning of lunar year 2013, year of the snake! Since I wasn’t in Korea to celebrate with my family, we chatted on the phone and I properly drooled over the food pictures like this of 떡국, or dduk-gook with sliced rice cake pieces and a creamy broth.

In Korean tradition, you’re supposed to finish one entire bowl to become one year older.


2013: Stay optimistic. Spend time on things that make me happy.
(And from the solar new year) Take care of myself. Be bold.

OverflowingOptimismFrom Live Now, as featured on Brain Pickings

Happy new year, everybody. New year’s blessings & good luck! The Korean new year greeting is literally this: “Bok/복” with the long O means good fortune.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Floss! from Fairly Oddparents

I watched a lot of cartoons growing up. Since we were learning English, Mark and I watched so. much. television. We’d wake up early on Saturday mornings and watch television literally for hours… which is weird because when we were living in Tampa, we didn’t even have a television in the living room.

Among other (Dexter’s Laboratory, Powerpuff Girls, Jimmy Neutron!) I especially loved the Fairly Oddparents. And it’s now available on Netflix. Did anyone else start singing the song “Timmy is an average kid….”?

In one episode Vicky has this dentist-relevant public announcement moment.

2013-01-28 16.01.37

I watched a lot of cartoons last year with the kiddos and some of the cartoons are ridiculous! The kids barely notice it, but when I was watching it with them, I was scandalized. For one, Adventure Time is so so trippy. Sometimes this was all they had on Tivo. I swear that show does something to you… because I would sit on the couch and watch this for hours.

There’s actually two characters with braces on Fairly Oddparents: Fairy Godparents. Represent!

fairlyoddbracesPicture 1, 2

Did you watch FOP when you were little? (or now?)
What’s your favorite childhood cartoon?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Peace of mind… ?

Last week our bible study group got to talk about peace. I keep picturing pieces of pie because that’s my idea of peace because it is not a word we use everyday- unless you’re talking Peace Corp (Hi Helen!) or saying stuff like Peace, yo. Hippy-style. I had never stopped to think about what this word “peace” meant to me.

Someone brought up the fact that peace does not necessarily mean a lack of conflict. You can still be at peace, even if you are conflict-ridden.


I jotted this down and thought about it over the week because this concept is so foreign to me. I interpreted it this way: you can be happy with yourself- “at peace”- even if you are not where you want to be. There is someone looking out for you and although you may be upset with the current affairs you need to trust that things will turn out okay.

This is hard.

Because the nature of dental school is that everyone is dealing with the same thing (classes, selective requirements, same opportunities, same limited sunshine-exposure), I think what is wrong with me? Everyone else is doing fine.

Bruce warned me that first year of graduate school will be the hardest, because you constantly doubt yourself. I have a strong internal locus of control (you can take this short 13-question test here) so this is especially true.

Right now I’m beating myself up for having just missed the next grade (I began this fight four hours before an exam at 4 in the morning). That I write down the same to-do lists every month: run in the mornings, drink less caffeine, be a little more patient… as I’m writing this having slept in and drinking coffee.

In dental school we' are learning all about the negative effects of cortisol and constant stress, how it shifts your metabolism and causes all kinds of systematic diseases. Case in point, during our Intro to Medicine rotation I learned that my blood pressure has gone up in tens since last summer.

What to do? Breathing in, breathing out. I learned this at a meditation session (which I had to leave early). Bring the focus to the present and think: what can I do now to be a little more comfortable? Put myself a little bit more at peace?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ginnifer Goodwin & the Listerine challenge

I have a major celebrity crush on Ginnifer Goodwin! If you watch Once Upon A Time, you probably have an obsession with her skin. Actually, everyone on that show has the best skin! Something about playing fairytale characters I guess? I saw some rare smiling photos of her at an event and noticed the background…


If the wallpaper didn’t tip you off, she’s at an oral health event promoting Listerine’s 21 Day Challenge.

Here’s the deal: Listerine is donating up to $85,000 to Oral Health America for every person who signs up for the 21 Day Challenge. Since it takes three weeks to make a habit, the challenge is for you to start using a mouthwash twice a day for a healthier smile.

Read more about it on Listerine’s facebook page then sign up for the challenge here! They even have a coupon for Listerine. Making healthy habits and helping Oral Health America raise money? Sounds as good as a chocolate covered Peep (marshmallow plus chocolate goodness!- Valentine’s day is coming up and all the stores are tempting me with cavity-inducing sweets).

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

dentists saving lives

We’re learning all about taking a thorough health overview of our patients including review of systems and social/family history accounts. Something our professor said really stuck with me:


Many people see their dentists twice year. Unless they are sick, people don’t go to the doctor even though they should. Dentists use a comprehensive Review of Systems to evaluate the patient’s overall health. In addition to dealing with the chief complaint patient came in for, they can identify different conditions. And because dentists see patients regularly over the years, they can recognize any changes in health over time.

We’re learning all about renal diseases, the heart, different medications, ear and nose exams. We are constantly reminded that it’s important for us to recognize abnormalities, not to diagnose them!

And while it’s a lot of information to study and memorize (and I whine think: why do we have to know everything?) I try to remember that we have a responsibility as healthcare providers to not just take care of someone’s mouth but the person as well.

Monday, February 4, 2013

dental gems from pinterest

I read this article on Pinterest from ASDA’s blog Mouthing Off and seriously considered getting a Pinterest account. Pinterest sounds awesome… which is exactly why I am hesitant about getting one. I might be pinning all day instead of doing dental school stuff.

Take a look:

DSCF1001From Serendipity from jewels

Little dry-erase laminated teeth with cavities kids can brush away! Would be perfect for waiting rooms at pediatric dentistry offices.

Or this multiple uses for floss from this board on why you should always keep floss around:


To Pin or not to Pin? Dental hygiene tips and dentist humors are not the cutest things on Pinterest but whenever I see someone with adorable baked goods they tell me, “I got it from Pinterest!”

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Change it up February: starting lab

Happy Groundhog Day weekend everyone! It’s a brand new month.

Starting this month, we’re transitioning into more of a clinical/practical schedule. We are starting General Restorative Dentistry which is a huge course that will take us to the end of D1. We’re finally moving into lab to do hands-on stuff like waxing teeth, doing cavity preps, and wearing loupes.

While this (hopefully) means less time studying in libraries and coffee shops, I’ll be spending a lot more time physically at the dental school. I’ll be sitting down and hunched over for most of these hours.


I went to a Q+A with personal trainers this week and came back with this thought: exercise to survive, not just to look good. Being fit doesn’t just equal looking good; it also means being strong and healthy.

The dentist I shadowed told me that he lifts weights for an hour every day. He said, “Because I like my job and I don’t want to retire for another decade.” Back pain is a common problem among dentists.

With this hectic schedule coming up, I want to make sure to keep eating healthy & running regularly.

I loved Mabel’s recipe for make-ahead frittatas so I looked for other make-ahead breakfast recipes. I made this sweet potato oatmeal muffin recipe from Sprint 2 the table this weekend. I didn’t add any of the spices but it was still delicious. Winter = sweet potatoes= love.


I’m still in pain from the new wire at my last orthodontics appointment so the mushy texture was perfect.

February is a month to wrap up my lecture classes and be healthy in spite of our hectic dental school schedule. And at the end of February is this little thing called SPRING BREAK where people sit out on beaches and stuff.

What are you looking forward for spring break?
What are your favorite winter foods?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Famous Penn dental graduates: W.D. Miller and F.S. McKay

In 1890, W.D. Miller proposed the chemico-parasitic theory of caries pathogenesis in his book “The Micro-organisms of the Mouth”. This is how we understand caries and mineral dissolution now.

Caries is brought about by acid dissolution of the mineral phase of the teeth, the acid being produced by metabolism of dietary carbohydrates by oral bacteria.

Dr. Willoughby Dayton Miller also happens to be a University of Pennsylvania dental school graduate. He received his DDS from Penn in 1879.

In addition, Dr. Frederick S. McKay, who discovered the revolutionary finding that adding fluoride to your water supply can strengthen your enamel, is a Penn dental graduate of 1900. He observed the browning and mottling effect of too much fluoride. He was originally an orthodontist!

penngradsPicture of Miller, Picture of McKay

Also while looking through the Penn Dental Journal archives I found this from the 1901 issue:

Prices in the Klondike are very high for everything. A man recently returned from there related that a dentist charged him only $2 for extracting a tooth… but if the patient wanted the aching one taken out it would cost him $10.

Back then extracting a tooth cost $2! But only if it was the non-aching one?…

These are big names in our field that have transformed modern dentistry! I heard about these scientists before starting dental school but didn’t know they were Penn dental graduates.

Dentistry would be nothing without our basic understanding of how caries happen and our knowledge that caries are preventable. I love that Penn dental has this great long history of producing amazing thinkers. These great scientists walked in the very same hallways we walk through now… maybe some of their ingenuity will rub off on me.