Sunday, March 31, 2013

infection control in dental offices

When I’m in GRD lab fired up working on a project, extra layers can be uncomfortable. But we are reminded that protection barriers are necessary to protect both us and the patients, and it’s important for us to get used to working with protection barriers.

Did you see the Tulsa oral surgeon who put more than a thousand of his patient in danger of HIV and Hepatitis? Similar incident happened at the VA hospital in St. Louis couple of years back.


As mentioned in the article, can you imagine if you (or your kid) got HIV from a careless dentist? Even as dental students we are advised to use standard precautions for all patients- including our preclinic mannequins.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Happy Easter!

It’s Easter.

First Easter with our new Pope and my first in Philadelphia. I’d like to magically fly home to spend Easter Sunday at home at church with at our family church… but it’s not too shabby here in this beautiful city.


No eggs and no Peeps for me, but lots of thinking and praying this weekend. And nothing to do dental school-wise, thanks to our basement dental lab problems.

I’m halfway through my Bible Timeline (with Jeff Cavin) class. I’ve never read the Bible before so it’s really interesting. We approach it from a scholarly view with an eclectic group of people with different religious backgrounds, so lots of intriguing dialogue happening.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

lemons to lemonade: break from GRD lab

We are taking an unexpected break from general restorative lab because of problems in the laboratory. Classes are cancelled until further notice and we are not allowed to go in after hours either. Yay!… or nay? The exam dates are still set in stone (our exam schedule was set from summer before we even got to dental school) so our first dental lab practical is coming up.


But… I’m not stressing out just yet. I’m enjoying this unexpected break. Today we only had a morning quiz & the rest of the day off. After my orthodontics appointment (I now have elastics on my braces), I caught up on tasks and emails. I also learned about the importance of strength training and caught up with friends in an adorably elephant-themed apartment.

Making lemonade out of this lemon situation. Dental school can be (unexpectedly) fun and relaxing- sometimes.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

fluoride showers

After cadaver dissections (we spent four hours looking for various structures in the heart and thorax), all I want to do is run home, take a shower, and eat a huge dinner. Something about formaldehyde- or maybe just standing around all afternoon- makes me ravenous.

I found this sticker at the dental school. I want one.


You can check out this CDC link to see if your community water is fluoridated. In warmer parts of the country, the fluoride concentration is lower since people drink more water! Here in Philadelphia our water has been fluoridated at 0.70mg/L since 1954.

Today is a great day because I got a big project approved! Also I came home to the sweetest email from Dabel in my inbox. Distance doesn’t have to mean much when it comes to friendships.

Monday, March 25, 2013

herbs in little apartment

I am growing something in my apartment! Green fresh herbs for cooking.


I attended a workshop about cooking with herbs where I learned how to take care of these plants. We also had a tasting of foods “cooked” with herbs: fresh fruit salad with mint is amazing. Mint adds a whole new dimension to the already-delicious salad.


I’m getting pretty sick of my bread/rice/beans routine so these herbs are going to be a wonderful supplement to my vegetarian cooking. Also it is pretty fun having a “pet”. These are probably the only kinds of pets I can keep alive in dental school. One day without water won’t kill these little ones…

I have oregano, rosemary, sage, and parsley. Do you have favorite recipes using these herbs? Please share!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

beer bike weekend

Yes, it’s BEER BIKE weekend at Rice (post and pictures from 2011 here). This is the first Beer Bike I am missing since my freshman year. I’m reading articles about Beer Bike in The Rice Thresher like this (750 Chick-Fil-A sandwiches?) and pretending I’m in Houston.

The college stands from 2011:189900_10150167209095169_3778964_n


dental assisting and occlusion

Dental Auxiliary Unit (DAU), or really dental-assisting upperclassmen, has been pretty fun. I’m in a smaller clinic so I enjoy seeing a more intimate group of students regularly. It’s interesting to see how clinical procedures differ from preclinical stuff. Professors tell us all the time: Put on your gloves! Don’t cradle the head! Think about the patient’s comfort! They want to prepare us for “upstairs”.

Current fourth years remember when DAU first was incorporated into the curriculum. I assisted a D4 this year who remembered the good (and the bad) parts of assisting, so she made sure to explain every procedure to me as she was doing them. It was like shadowing my dentist for dental applications all over again! We assist in four-hour increments but time goes by quickly when you’re actually doing stuff- same for GRD lab and cadaver dissections.

2013-02-09 21.20.48

Speaking of GRD lab, our great section on occlusion wrapped up. We had no less than three lab assignments and two exams on occlusion… because it’s that important. TMJ disorders affect more than ten millions Americans and since teeth play a huge role in how you bite down, dentists need to be thoroughly knowledgeable on occlusion. We made bite registration models, teeth impressions (and poured out into stone models), equilibrated each tooth to occlude correctly…

…. and I learned just how messed up my occlusion is. I have no canine guidance. My bite doesn’t come down on the long axis of my molars. And so on.


Lab can be frustrating sometimes but it’s so exciting when you finally get it right. I’ll walk outside with hazy vision (literally- from staring 19 inches ahead for three hours) but happy.

In addition to learning the dental procedures, we’re learning how to self-assess (it’s especially important in real life when you don’t have dental school professors looking over your shoulder after every procedure). So sometimes I’ll complete a procedure (we’re doing Class I preps- “prepping” the teeth by drilling out the cavity to be filled with amalgam or composite) and know right away that this one is a re-do.

I’m happy we’re learning actual dental procedures! But a couple friends and I discussed how “scary” this is. Because if you don’t get this right, maybe you start thinking dentistry is not for you (????). Our clinical professors assured us that with time and perseverance, everyone will get there eventually. But I think the fear is still there.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

quiet courage.

I found this quote at a moment I really needed it.


I know we have a week until Easter (I gave up coffee for Lent this year) but on some warm and sunny afternoons, all I want is iced coffee. I love the clinking of ice, the clear plastic cup, everything about the concept of iced coffee from coffee shops. It also screams hello, spring! But I’m hanging in there. Coffee, dental school, life-wise. Seventeen exams until summer. (I don’t want to live my life in countdowns to the next thing but dental school will do that to you.)

Monday, March 18, 2013

dental life lately in pictures

Dental school is picking up! February swished by and now we’re happily past St. Patrick’s Day, moving onto Easter. (Did everyone have fun? Don’t ask me what I did this past weekend.)

Here’s a post with many many pictures! We have two tests this week & more lab (late hours in the basement, you know) but I’m looking forward to this Friday. Just gotta get to that happy place.

Study break at the bookstorecasualreads

Running past the beautiful Philadelphia City Hall
(the sidewalks and the roads around this could be better though…)cityhall

Walk to cadaver lab early morninggoodmorningcampus

I wish I could keep this resolution:
Glamour Mag)happysundays

Good morning pastry + tea at Capogiromorninghotchcorun

Beauties! At Reading Terminal Market:peppersread

Waxing up teeth is over! This means no more finger burns.waxitup

Take some time to daydream and imagine. Source


Have a great rest of the week everyone! This week I’m walking around with dry hands (washing my hands twenty times a day) and an aching neck. Dental ergonomics is for real. XO

Friday, March 15, 2013

study breaks

Study smart, not harder.

…. is something I still need to learn. I know it’s important to take study breaks to keep your brain optimal but I mad-multitask when I’m studying. I’m constantly remembering errands/writing emails/reading dental links friends send me. Sometimes I get so frazzled from doing multiple things at once.

This semester I’ve been spending lots of time at libraries and coffee shops. I ate a lot of cafĂ© foods and took many reading breaks on cozy chairs. I’m trying to be more efficient with my studying and breaking up my sessions into multiple 45-minute sessions with breaks in between.

refresherTake a walk// feed yourself// read a chapter or two

Same with life! “Taking it easy” is a completely foreign concept to me and I’m always puzzled when someone says it to me. But from my recent wellness workshops I’m learning that my body needs a break too! I can’t just be a constant go-go-go all the time.

Do you schedule regular study breaks? What do you do?
(Sometimes I’ll watch one Glee clip… or two… or an entire episode)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

annual session: kyle maynard- no excuses

At ASDA Annual Session 2013, Kyle Maynard opened with our Keynote Presentation. A congenital quadruple amputee, Kyle overcame many obstacles in his life to become a martial arts athlete, owner of a Crossfit gym, and a successful climber of Mouth Kilimanjaro.

He had one powerful message for us dental students this Thursday morning: “No more excuses”.


He challenged us to ask this one question:

“What is the #1 excuse keeping you from reaching your full potential today?”

He brought up an interesting point, that everyone has a disability whether or not it is visible. For him, it is a physical disability that was readily visible to others. But for others, it may be something deep inside such as fear. Fear of failure keeps us from trying in the first place.

I felt like he was reading from my journal! (“I’m not going to even give it a try because…”) I did chew on this these last few days but fear is a strong deterrent. That fear of failure, embarrassment, and rejection keeps me at a safe distance so that I’m not left vulnerable. The worst they can say is no- I know- but that no stings sometimes. I know I’m being very vague here… I wish I could have an in-person pow-wow with you guys to discuss openly and gain some perspective!

I like that this speech was more overarching theme/motivation for life, rather than being so specifically dental-relevant. I’ve been carrying around some conference goodies from Annual Session as a reminder of what I learned and felt at the session:


Settling back into routine is rough! I woke up two minutes before I was supposed to be at the dental school this morning. For others just getting back from spring break like me, let’s power through the rest of the semester until the summer. :)

What excuse did you make for yourself today?
How have you overcome fear/being vulnerable? Any pointers for me?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

visual learning in dental school

Biggest thing I learned this year is that I’m a visual learner. Dental school is pretty difficult so I needed to go back and figure out new things once my old methods failed to work.

Take this quiz (from University of South Dakota) for yourself to figure out what kind of learner you are. I also love these study tips from our neighbor: UMDNJ on study tips for visual, auditory, and tactile learners.

To see if you are also a visual learner (65% of people are):

Does d-o-g bring up a picture of a dog?
Do you use colors and highlighters?
Do you like to sit in the front?
Do you have difficulty following spoken directions? (Me!!!)

While reading these, I kept thinking: “that’s me!” I take notes all the time, when I’m on the phone or when I’m trying to brainstorm anything. A biggest panic moment is when I don’t have a pen and I have to remember something. Actually seeing the words on paper really helps me remember.

It’s a good thing I’m in dental school because a lot of our learning (and the nature of our work) involves seeing.


For one exam last semester I spent hours listening to recorded lectures. During the exam, I completely blanked. I remember information by recalling what lecture the information was on and then trying to visualize the page… which didn’t happen there.

Being a visual learner, I appreciate good powerpoint slides to accompany lectures so I can see the information as it is being presented. I also love infographics and detailed illustrations (Information is Beautiful has a ton).

Are you a visual learner?
What study tips have you found helpful as a visual/auditory/tactile learner?

Monday, March 11, 2013

incisors touching- with bottom braces

I’m back from ASDA Annual Session in Atlanta! The third years have their NERB exams this week which means we don’t have dental assisting this week. A little bit more time to catch up and get back into routine.

I didn’t update you on this new exciting discovery: my top and bottom incisors are touching! I got my bottom row braces at my last orthodontics appointment. A few days later I had this weird new sensation: my anterior teeth actually started touching.

It’s the weirdest feeling. But I think it’s normal for everyone else…


Also the latest popular words from my vocabulary: “struggle bus”, “fun train”, and “focus fox”. Use all three in a sentence like this: Since the fun train’s already left for this week, might as well be a focus fox and try to get off this struggle bus.

Friday, March 8, 2013

February gracias

I’m still in Atlanta- but I wrote this little gratitude post before I left! I’ll catch you guys up on all the exciting events from the ASDA Annual Session once I’m back.

I did last month’s thank-you’s on time but for February I let it slip. But you know, February only has twenty-eight days so the last day sorta sneaked up while I was busy with our new dental school schedule.

1. Running (and everything else my body is capable of). I went out on the Schuylkill river this week and ran the longest I have ever ran in my life. It probably helped that I had music and other runners passing me by (swoosh!) but it felt so good.

A year ago I had nightmares of me never running again (I was so irrationally scared) so this is wonderful.

wellness wheel source


2. Emotional and spiritual growth. Speaking of wellness I’m trying to balance out all aspects of my wellness wheel. Emotional wellness is an area I’ve neglected and want to work on. I’m doing just that with meditation sessions and wellness seminars (reason #4921 I love being a dental student at Penn).


2013-02-20 17.16.43

And the whole no-coffee thing works (except times when you invite a friend out “for coffee” and you’ve both given up coffee for Lent). I know coffee is good for you- but right now, I’m learning to listen to my body more. When I’m tired, I sip on chamomile and go to bed instead.

I got these loose leaf chamomile flowers from Reading Terminal Market and they smell so amazing that I just want to eat them:chamotea

3. Dental school. “If something was easy, everyone would do it.” Dental school is hard. First semester was extra hard because I was having a difficult time and didn’t know anyone well enough to realize others were too.

I’m at a much better place now; At least I can see myself making it through dental school. The many “free” perks don’t hurt either:

2013-02-08 22.55.42

This month we all received free Crest Oral-B ProfessionalCare electric toothbrushes (SmartSeries 5000) to try out as dental students. Love it and definitely feel extra cool during those two minutes.

4. Baby brother Mark.  The last day of this February was someone’s special day: my dearest little brother Mark. In addition to educating me on movies and music, this kiddo motivates me to be my best every day. I am so thankful to have him in my life.

So that’s my February. That was a wordy post… but I’ve had a lot of time for thoughts and self-reflection this month. ;)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Georgia on my mind: ASDA Annual Session

I’m heading out to Atlanta tonight for the 2013 ASDA Annual Session. A few of us going from Penn dental to learn about how ASDA works and to discuss the latest issues affecting dental students and our dental community.


It’s such an exciting opportunity and I’m so excited to be visiting Atlanta! I have never been- although the rest of the family took a road trip here while I was away at a math competition. (Not that I’m bitter or anything… )

If you are also attending this session/will be in Atlanta, shoot me an email!

I’m only taking my iPad for the road so I probably won’t be posting, but you’ll hear from me when I’m back from this very-dental weekend. Okey, need to finish up packing. XO

wissahickon day trip

Good morning everyone! Spring break… feels wonderful. It’s a break from everyday dental student life and time to actually do the things I love: reading, cooking, and watching movies.

I took a mini train-trip to Wissahickon Creek this week. I really wanted to take a long train trip out of Amtrak station, but I had to be in Philadelphia for a few things. So a solo day trip, a beautiful nature hiking trail right here in Philadelphia had to do. (But I did go through the beautiful Philadelphia Amtrak station to get that train-trip feel.)


I went hiking here last semester when it was warm and sunny. This time it was much colder (mid-30’s) and almost deserted- save for a couple of shorts-wearing badass runners. I definitely did not wear enough to stay warm. By the time I made it to the Valley Green Inn, my hands were frozen and I could barely pick up the spoon.

Yep, this looks a lot different from the lush greenery I saw last year.


Once it warms up a bit (and dental school schedule gets lil more lax), it would be lovely to run along the Forbidden Trail. Even walking along the many hiking trails was a work-out. I had to pay attention to where I was stepping on the rocky trails. This early in the morning, coffee would have definitely helped.

I wrote a long text message so 127 Hours wouldn’t happen, but by the time I pressed “send” I was already in no-signal zone. I also forgot to bring my map, so every time there was a fork in the road, I freaked out. But I’m here now! And packing suits and dresses for the second half of my spring break…

Have you taken a solo trip anywhere?
Do you prefer the quiet nature or the busy bustlin’ cities?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Penn Dental: Oral Cancer Walk & Run

What are you doing Saturday April 6th?


Come out to Penn’s annual Oral Cancer Walk & 5k! Run for a great cause and check out our beautiful school campus. ;)

The run- benefiting the Oral Cancer foundation- starts at 8:30AM (sign up for the race here) and the walk at 10AM. There will be free head and neck screenings from 8-noon.


Dr. Thomas Sollecito, the Chair at Department of Oral Medicine at University of Pennsylvania (who is an awesome speaker), and Christian “Patch” Patchell, an oral cancer survivor, are our featured speakers for 2013.

A great team of us are putting in much time and effort into this event and we would love for everyone to attend. Even if you aren’t a runner (you can also do the walk), drop by the school and get a free oral cancer screening. It’s painless (actually a pretty relaxing neck massage) and these quick ten minutes could save your life. We’ll have fun events for the entire family too! I think it’d be a wonderful way to spend a fun Philadelphia morning.

Please shoot me an email if you have any questions! I’d love to see you at this run Saturday morning if you’re in Philadelphia.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

chew gum with xylitol

Chewing gum with xylitol is great for dental health. Xylitol is a sugar substitute that does not convert to acid upon breakdown. In this piece for the New York Times, Dr. Emanuel suggests schools should promote chewing gum- have a gum chewing session perhaps? I had this article on my read feed and didn’t realize Dr. Zeke Emanuel had written it (I’d gone to hear him speak weeks earlier).

My mom sent me a care package from Korea with this gum inside and it was the most delicious and moisturizing (does this word apply to gum?) gum I’d ever had. Plus the tin case is too cute.

2013-02-10 16.03.44

In Korea, we always had one of these Xylitol gum (advertised with dancing Finnish men) in our cars (picture). I remember exactly what these tasted like! For a while this was the only gum anyone ever chewed.

I don’t like when gum gets flavorless or hard. Sometimes I’ll sit at my desk and go through an entire pack of gum in one study session. If I am chewing gum with added xylitol, at least I’m doing great things for my teeth.

Do you prefer gum or mint?

Friday, March 1, 2013

cadaver anatomy and wax-up’s

I am officially on spring break! Whoooooo!!!

This week has been really busy with Cadaver Anatomy starting, GRD (those wax-up labs I talk so much about), and DAU (dental assisting) in full swing. Here at Penn dental students get to dissect cadavers after the lecture component of the class is over.

When I was at my Penn interview, our tour guide mentioned that she had to go to the med school for dissections. I remember thinking, “ohmygosh dental students do dissections?”

After learning all about the muscles, nerves, and blood vessels running through the head and thorax region, I see why it’s important for dentists to have this knowledge. And to get to dissect a real human body is an amazing opportunity.


As of this week, we’re DONE with waxing up teeth! We actually started with the high-speed drills this week and will continue with the different dental restorative preps when we come back from spring break (all tan and relaxed).

I worked on our negative carving exercise at home while watching documentaries on Netflix. I got a little too enthusiastic and carved down all my buccal cusps. The D2’s were right: stop while you’re ahead…

And about cadaver lab- getting dressed at 7:00 in the morning is a little tricky. I walked around looking like a tropical bird this Tuesday:


Running home from cadaver lab, I kept smelling my hair to see if it smelled like formaldehyde… not because I haven’t showered in three days. I can’t get the smell off my hands either.

But it’s going to be so wonderful having Friday afternoons off. January-February was crazy. I’m hoping March gets a little better.