Monday, October 28, 2013

pleasant event scheduling!

gethappyThis week I’m supposed to schedule in pleasant events into my daily routine. One thing that always makes me happy is going through old pictures.

Like this bookshelf Tiffany gave me: it made me so happy!Snapshot_20120117_15

My shoebox gap year apartment. I took the couch from my senior year suite.
And I loved my green wooden furniture set. add815a6738c__1315498254000

This picture of me in New Orleans during Mardi Gras in 2009. I had mushroom hair! I kind of liked it…2185_1133081606926_2095_n

And this is waaayyyy back but I found this when I was in Korea:
Appa when he was at the Academy! Driving that Jeep like a boss. DSC_0287 (2)

2012-06-11 16.28.00Mark (who is like a x1.2 magnification of Appa) and Mom.

Okay the last few pictures make me just a little bit sad. These are bittersweet because I’m so far away from them. Anyway, it’s weird looking at old photographs because I remember some of my thoughts when I was back there, looking into the camera lense. And now I’m looking back into my own eyes, years later as someone different- yet the same.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Monday dentures practical

We are to set maxillary teeth, anteriors and posteriors, in four hours. Dentures as a class is wrapping up! We have the practical portion of the exam on Monday and the didactic portion on Thursday.

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Here we go!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

some dental school snapshots

Look at the male:female ratio for oral surgeons! I think this study is a little old, maybe ten years or so? In 2008, the active male oral surgeons outnumbered females by about 4:1.

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This happened. That record base plus wax occlusal rim took me more than six hours to make and refine. I didn’t cry. I just picked up the pieces, tossed them, and started over. This is the kind of resilience I didn’t have before.

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I love cold weather running. I love how one run transform make my entire day. I’d always been hesitant to call myself a runner (I loved this Newbie Chronicles article from Runner’s World), but getting this kind of energy from running DOES make me a runner.


Off to watch Glee and rest in my cozy bed! I’ve been so much happier lately. On one hand I wonder if I’m happy simply because I’m forgetting something! But I like to believe I’m dealing with anxiety and disappointments better. First by recognizing them and getting to the root cause.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

back from north carolina! (& first root canal)

Hi! It’s been a while.

This weekend I took the train down to Durham! (I’ve been wanting to take Amtrak out of our beautiful 30th Street Station for the longest time.) It was nine hours but perfect time to catch up on sleep and magazines.

Upon returning I was so busy jumping back to dental school life. I was studying for pharmacology and catching up on dentures lab that I didn’t write a blog post. Then today happened: I saw my first root canal!!! So this was meant to be.

Okay, backing up, here’s how it’s related. When I was down in Durham, I hung out with Bobby who is an endodontist. One night we spent hours looking at to-be-root-canal-ed radiographs and talked about endodontics.

Here we are making babies laugh:

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Here’s me this morning (I look a little too excited) with Bobby’s plaque in Penn’s new Syungcuk Kim Endodontics clinic. It’s spankin’ new and high-tech and glisteningly beautiful. With the wide-open bays, sun shining in through the windows and the high ceilings, this clinic is just gorgeous. If I were a patient walking into this dental office, I would stay.

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First thoughts about Endodontics: it’s messy (“High-suction please!!!”), it’s mysterious (down that dark narrow tunnel where Pulp used to live), it’s precise. You don’t know what’s going to happen until you open up the tooth! Plus, patients often come in with excruciating pain, so it’s nice to relieve them of the discomfort.

Here’s everybody (wearing Penn stuff!): proud Penn alum & graduate(s)-to-be.

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What a coincidence, right? I go into our new Endodontics office the week after I come back from hanging out with my favorite endodontist. The trip might have been ill-timed but honestly, it was SO worth it. I came back fully rejuvenated. I also gained fresh insight of what my future’s going to be life. Hint: it’s pretty wonderful.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

dental school and my identity.

I’m heading to Durham tomorrow morning to see the lovely Lobo. Four months is too long without seeing this girl!!! With our impending reunion I thought about how we often only do a quick “touch and go” with our feelings.

I tuck away feelings (because you know, I’m so busy with school and whatnot) until my discomfort grows and sort of explodes on me. Then I have this huge mess on my hands I must deal with. So I’ve been trying to acknowledge my feelings more, as they rise. With this comes getting to the root of why I’m feeling certain feelings. Like why dental school stresses me out.

Here’s what it comes down to:

I believe school defines me. My grades reflect on my value as a person. Therefore, if I don’t get good grades, I am unworthy as a person and no one will love me.

See how ridiculous that sounds when I reason it out? Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is incredible. And recognizing my faulty reasoning helps me realize why I feel so CRAPTASTIC when I don’t do well on an exam.

Also, did you read this semester’s issue of ASDA’s Mouth? The story about fighting cancer in dental school really put my own life in perspective. And that quote: we “turned the DAT into our once chance to avert the apocalypse".


It’s the journey, not the destination. I don’t have to wait until I get there (where is it anyway?) to feel happy.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fluoride in your bottled water

Do you drink bottled water? I try not to. I like free water from the tap and I’d rather buy sugar sweetened beverages. I love Dr. Pepper and Cherry Diet Coke. I swear having one in the fridge makes me so happy with the anticipation of that sweet caffeine mix… says the future dentist. 

I was thinking about an upcoming trip and wondering what bottled water was in that region. Random, I know. But I have never lived in a “Deer Park” water zone before. Like in Florida, all we saw were Zephyrhills. Then my family took a trip up to NYC one weekend and street vendors were selling Poland Spring! We had to get a bottle to do a water taste test.

Picture from the movie Tappedclip_image002

This speculation got me thinking, is there fluoride in bottled water?

Answer: most usually yes.

The FDA has fluoride level requirements for two kinds of bottled water: those with added fluoride and those without. Water with no added fluoride can contain between 1.4 – 2.4 milligrams per liter of fluoride, while those with added fluoride can contain between 0.8 - 1.7 mg/L fluoride. (I’m excluding imported water for sake of simplicity). Some bottling companies filter the fluoride out of the water.

If the fluoride is from natural source (the company did not add additional fluoride as part of manufacturing process), the fluoride content does not have to be listed. In 2006, FDA approved dental health claims for fluoride in consumed water, although I have never seen water bottles containing fluoride advertised to be “good for your teeth.”- probably due to the ongoing fluoride controversy.

flll Fluoridation map (2006) from CDC

BTW: According to Fluoride Alert, Deer Park contains about 0.07 mg/L of fluoride. (originally from this paper from Harvard School of Dental Medicine)

Have you seen any water bottles making fantastic fluoride dental benefits?
Do you have a favorite local bottled water? (Can you taste the difference?)

Monday, October 14, 2013

oil pulling for dental health

My mom first told me about this “swishing your mouth with olive oil” thing and I responded with skepticism. Why get your mouth all slimy and icky when there’s fluoride toothpaste and plant oil mouthwashes? No thank you.

Then I read an interview where someone mentioned oil pulling as her daily morning routine. So I looked into it.


Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic technique used to improve oral hygiene. It’s actually called kavala grah. My quick look into PubMed found most research is from Indian schools. In one, oil pulling was shown to significantly improve fresh breath (halitosis).

You wake up in the morning, put 1 tsp of cold-pressed plant oil into your mouth, swish it around for twenty minutes, spit it out. Follow with salt water gargle and tooth-brushing. The mixture turns milky and frothy, presumably from all the toxins that are pulled out.

The closest thing I could find to a dental source was this: from this article by Lory Laughter in Registered Dental Hygienist Magazine. Laughter talks about the lack of conversation about oil pulling in the dental community- perhaps because we already have oral hygiene products that’s been proven to work.


In this book by Dr. Bruce Fife, she claims the following conditions can improve with oil pulling:

Acne, allergies, arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, colitis, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, hypertension, insomnia, PMS…

Some of these are systemic conditions- it sounds like oil pulling is a “panacea for all ills”. There’s really good customer reviews both about the book and about the therapy. I am intrigued!

I am just surprised that no work has been done to show that oil pulling works (if so, exactly how?) or doesn’t. I might just try it out myself… Just a spoonful of olive oil makes the bacteria go down.

Would you try oil pulling?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

I’m a mnemonic!

Enstin sent me this to my inbox this weekend and it made me laugh and smile so much. It’s so perfect because I love T-Rex’s and I do want Enstin to get here in one piece. mnemonic

This is how I feel right now:


So this week in dental school adventures: my mandibular teeth were all wrong so I’m back to square one. It is 9PM on a Sunday and I’m trying to decide if I should go back to dental school lab… or study for my exam on Tuesday.

I was trying to get excited about my trip Friday to see Eric and Scott and Lo and realized I’ll be missing an important club meeting! So happiness quickly turned into guilt trippin’ because I feel I haven’t been pulling my weight…

I think I’m just in a negative mood tonight. Here’s something good: it’s almost real winter weather!(Short sleeves are no longer adequate past sunset) Plus how can I be sad when Enstin’s made a med school mnemonic out of me?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

mark the date! oral cancer walk 2014

University of Pennsylvania’s very own Oral Cancer Walk & 5k is happening next year, March 29, 2014. Some of my favorite people are in running the event this year and it’s going to be so epic.

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Last year’s walk was super fun. Not to mention moving, educational… I believed I am going to save lives as a dentist! Plus all the excitement of race day… I can’t wait.

(March 2014 seems so far away! But you know, it’s already mid-October. I also wonder what I’ll be like six months from today.)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

more like dental school (not med school)

There comes a time when med students and dental students don’t have much in common.

Last year we took the same basic science classes: biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, histology, anatomy and the likes. Second year of dental school is a more clinical transition. The only two basic science classes we take are Pharmacology this semester and Pathology next year: I just realized this!

Most of the classes have a direct clinical application. Our dentures laboratory class. Anesthesia/Pain/ Emergency where we learn about local anesthesia and will soon practice local injections…

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Even with anesthesia, our focus is more on pain, anxiety, local anesthetics. We focus on the drugs that have potential adverse reactions with our anesthetics, our vasoconstrictors.

Although Alex is taking pharmacology too, we had an entire section dedicated to pain medications while for Alex the med student has to study all these systemic drugs.

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Plus, you know, the many hours in lab… It’s kinda like arts and crafts! Playing with silly putty-wax and learning how to use these different instruments.

every day happiness

After bit of a rough patch last week, Kathy-dearie sent me this link: Martin Seligman’s tips on how to become happy, every day. This guy literally invented positive psychology. He is also at University of Pennsylvania.


I love these everyday tips I can follow to feel happier.

- Surround yourself with other happy people.
- Smile more!
- Try to be happy.
- Appreciate simple things.
- Spend money on others.

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A few classmates and I went to the Subaru Fall Festival at Greensgrow Farms & had the best time in the sun. I picked up their yummy, crunchy delicious Fuji apples and become so happy every morning I eat them. Sometimes I feel silly gushing over such little things (a good apple? seriously?) but I do!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Literal struggle bus.

It's easy to talk about struggles "after". After everything's been resolved... or after you feel better about whatever happened. Because everything looks less significant in retrospect. But I'm going to say it in present tense as I'm feeling it: I'm major struggling. I boarded this struggle bus, brought to you (well, literally- in my situation) by University of Pennsylvania.

You can enter your own struggles and watch the struggle bus struggle. This app was designed as part of Penn Apps Fall 2013 & even made BuzzFeed.


Movies aren't fun if there's no major hardship. The characters hit a major low before their lives change, right? You wouldn't know joy without sadness. You wouldn't know success without struggles.

I find this really comforting (from Madeline by Ludwig Bemelman):

They smiled at the good and frowned at the bad and sometimes they were very sad.



How many times did I use the word struggle in this post? But yeah, here it is. One blessing among all this is that I see how much I’m loved. Someone happened to text me while I was crying my eyes out in the bathroom and came to find me. I also ran into someone on Locust Walk who shared with me her own challenges and a newly enlightened outlook on life (seriously, B and K- you guys are amazing).

It’s hard for me to be open and vulnerable because I see it as a huge liability. But I think with this opening up comes support and love…

Lots of coffee dates with friends this week. And taking it slow. Health comes before dental school. I know that intuitively but I don’t live my life like that. But maybe for the first time in my life, I’m taking care of myself first ahead of school.

don't stress! you'll get gum disease.

Really. (Also, PubMed is down today! Crazy.)
Researchers think that the reason is twofold: Athletes eat a lot of carbs. And athletes are under a lot of stress. And here's the shocking part: 40% of athletes examined at the 2012 London Olympics dental clinic reported being "bothered" by their presumably negative oral health.
The ultimate carb (and sodium and fat) loader Adam from Man v. Food
We learned last year how stress can affect your oral health. Necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis- or NUG- also has the nickname "trench mouth" because it was common in WWII among highly stressed soldiers fighting in the trenches.
Presumably there is a link between periodontal disease and stress and a good reason for it, mediated through the body's inflammatory response.
And here's something more relevant to us dental students: academic stress causing periodontal disease. This is a really short-term studylooking at development of periodontal disease in six weeks! Considering you go to your dentist every six months, this is huge. One caveat- the students reported that due to their academic load, they may have neglected their oral hygiene routines...