Friday, January 31, 2014

braces life-changers: Platypus flossers

At the CMDA Winter conference, I shared a room with a current dentist. Watching me wrestling floss for fifteen minutes, she asked if I’d heard of Platypus flossers. No, but I looked them up and they look like those plastic flossers my dad loves- only thinner on one side. The flosser is skinny enough to fit underneath the wires!

This seemed so simple yet genius. I was so excited to get my samples in the mail- and rightfully so- I absolutely LOVED them. My flossing time got down to regular-people-time.


I got in touch with Fred Van de Perre, President of Platypus Company, to ask about this innovative (life-changing for me!) product.

You’re not a dentist or a dental professional. So what is your experience with braces?

As an inventor/developer in the dental industry for years, the challenge of traditional floss-threaders became a reality with my 12-year-old. She didn’t like it. I didn’t like it. Her mother didn’t like it.

That’s where most of my motivations come, when I am faced with the challenge or someone I know is challenged and they come to me.

How did you come to develop Platypus flossers?

Laura Morgan, RDH, a pediatric hygienist in Texas brought me her thoughts of what she felt could be a design for a solution. My design was somewhat different and between us we worked together to create a product that worked, was affordable, wouldn’t damage ortho hardware, and was fast and easy to use.


When I first heard of the name Platypus, I laughed out loud. So what’s behind the name Platypus?

I have never been a fan of traditional dental names, plus, life’s too short to not have fun. For instance, when I developed the Montana Jack™ scaler, I named it that way because it was simply a customer friendly name that was more fun and memorable. The Platypus® has a platypus-type of bill configuration, like a duck, and considering the majority of the target audience are kids, names like platypus, beluga (whale) or something duck-like was definitely going to happen. There is always resistance from some on these names, but once they become popular, it’s kind of like, “ahem… see?”

Are you developing any other devices to make life easier for people with braces?

Our new patent pending toothbrush is also a “forehead slapper” People might say, “great, another toothbrush,” but when it comes down to it and you try to teach someone to brush in a new method for braces, it then makes a lot of sense to have a brush that is designs to adapt for you.


I have also been working on several different items both solo and with my team. For instance, a solution to the lingual retainer is SO needed and we have been working on for some time now. If any of your readers have ideas or challenges I would also love to hear from them.

You can purchase Platypus flossers at or on the website. If you are an orthodontist (or an eager resident) check out these options for dental professionals.

If you have braces like me, these are absolutely amazing. Oh, and in addition to coming up with awesome dental products, Fred has founded Bikers against Bullies USA. Go “like” their fb page & if you have the next GREAT BIG idea for peeps with braces, get in conversation with Fred. ;)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

practical exams are O-V-E-R

We are completely done with practical exams!!!!! As of this morning, 12:05PM, we are completely done with the preclinical exam portion of dental school our lives.

We had to make an acrylic provisional fixed partial denture aka “bridge” on #9-11. Like this:


Only we had to refine it, check the occlusion, and polish it up to make it shiny and pretty. We spent many hours smelling monomer, watching the pretty snow fall outside dental school (caged) windows, and making limited choices from the sold-out vending machine… But we’re done. Joy.


I’m picking up some of the things I neglected over the last few days… I was really nervous hitting the publish button on this post this Sunday but the support and love I received has been so great. Thank you for the FB messages/hugs/texts.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

keep holding on.

[It’s past 1AM which is late by my standards. I know it’s Saturday night but today’s been lots of running around with shopping in Center City and a laughter-filled birthday party (HAPPY birthday gorgeous T!). I am ready for bed. But…]

In response to a comment by a reader about the recent Penn event, I wanted to jot down some words.

One of my biggest problems is that I shut out feelings. I leave them unexpressed and continue on about dental school like a drone. My therapist suggested I take daily time to acknowledge my feelings and flesh them out. So when I had a big disappointment last Wednesday I let myself feel sad. My friends who tried comforting me probably felt useless because I kept saying, “yes, but I am still sad.” But I appreciate you all. So thank you.

Then a Penn freshman passed away this weekend. I heard about it in lab when a non-Penn friend texted me. My friend was especially upset because we had walked that very block just few weeks ago. I was saddened and said a quick prayer. Then I kept prepping my teeth in that dental school basement without really thinking about it. “I can’t afford to be upset when I’m preparing for a practical exam.” I thought.


When I told another classmate, she had a much bigger reaction. She cried. All the while I went about my week, occasionally the thought of Madison popping into my head but not really. Then I watched the Modern Family episode “Under Pressure” where Alex goes to see a therapist. She doesn’t feel understood. She feels alone. She feels nobody gets her.

I broke down bawling. I am not saying this is what happened to Madison- I didn’t know her- but depression and having suicidal thoughts are lonely, alienating experiences. I expected this plot to turn into a funny twist but it was genuine and heartfelt. And it hit so close to home.

How do I “manage to stay atop of things while handling the workload”? I don’t. That’s the short answer. Sometimes I run out of lab because the walls are closing on me. Sometimes my blood sugar drops so low my hands are shaking as I’m turning the keys to my apartment. I get so anxious that going to school the next morning is an unbearable thought. Sometimes I feel like the fakest person out there. Why the #%2@# do I act so happy when I’m miserable?

With Bri in beautiful Sandy Cove last weekend: She’s my rock and my favorite cheese.sandy cove wknd (640x478)

The better may get worse, the worse may get better. Or maybe the other way around. But you change yourself by building up your resilience. And you change your environment by surrounding yourself with supportive thoughtful people who sympathize, empathize with you. You deserve to provide yourself with that nourishing environment. And reaching out for help isn’t a weakness. If I was willing to give help to others, I must also be willing to receive help. It took me a long time to see that.

Dental school is hard. (Biggest understatement of the century.) If you’ve succeeded at most things this far and expect to do so, think again. Going to dental school at this Ivy League institution has been f@#ing hard for me. Sometimes I gotta let go and “embrace the suck”. But other times, I have got to reach out. I am so grateful to all of you- Yesle of today would not be the same without y’all. I can only try to give out as much love as I receive from you guys out there.

I know this is only a blog and I’m only one person but I’m reachable by email or if you see me around, in person, whatever. I’m here for you. And you have many others who care about you and will love you unconditionally no matter what your GPA/extracurriculars/weight/internships are.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

back on with D4V dental loupes

First of all, my brother says “loo-PAY”, I say “loops”. ;)

Our dental laboratory class is almost wrapping up. We’ve been getting emails about our GRD “graduation”. I can’t believe this- one year of basement-ing it up. The lab has been hot and cold. It’s been unbearable and pure joy. Now that it’s ending I’m sad but happy (or happy but sad?).


In addition to learning all the hand skills we need for clinic this summer, we learned to use personal protective equipment and to use loupes. I feel naked without my complete get-up of surgical masks, bright blue gloves, and my Designs for Vision magnification loupes.

I got the 2.5x magnification and it’s more than enough. I’ve never not been able to do my procedures because my magnification was too low. In fact, it took me a bit to get used to the 2.5x magnification. I think I’ll be happy with me 2.5x even when I am in clinic.

My ears? Happy and comfortable. Some of my classmates absolutely have to use the croakies to keep their loupes on their faces because they slide off. Mine stay put even without the croakies and my nose bridge doesn’t hurt even after four (try seven on some days…) hours in lab.

We have one more practical exam next week then we are completely done with preclinic. I’ll be graduating to a real clinic with real patients.

lab site

I remember first getting my dental loupes and feeling so official! And drilling my first real plastic tooth then my first real (extracted) tooth. All these milestones leading me up to seeing real patients (who feel pain and have saliva!).

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 if you have any questions.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

acting in fake teeth: jonah hill

Jonah Hill talks in New York Times article about how his fake perfect teeth helped him settle into his character. He discusses how wearing prosthetics made it difficult to speak without a lisp in the beginning.

He does look entirely different in the movie – different from his regular goofy lovable persona. I wonder if this is someone’s job: make up prosthetic teeth for actors and actresses to fit with their on-screen roles. Prosthodontics specialty and Hollywood life, here I come?

jhillPicture source, Picture 2

I only thought he had whitened his teeth in the movie (Yes, they are unnaturally white- fluorescent on screen) While trying to find pictures of Jonah Hill smiling and showing teeth, I noticed he doesn’t smile with his teeth. He always looks like he’s about to burst into laughter though, which is a good look. ;)

Did you guys watch The Wolf of Wall Street? Did you notice his teeth?

Monday, January 20, 2014

being an army dentist

There are a few classmates in my year who are in the Health Professions Scholarship Program (HPSP) program with the military. I did a quick Q+A with three of them last year and the post got a lot of interest from you guys out there.

Last week, Army Strong Stories featured posts by Lieutenant Colonel Kendall Mower who is a dentist in the army. There are some amazing clinical case stories with great pictures. Lt. Col Mower also talks about visiting his daughter’s school as an army dentist for career day. He posted some of the letters he got from the kids- one wrote: “if I didn’t love horses, I would love to be in the army.” Aw!

He also talks about one of the perks of working in the army in the dentist: knowing what to wear every day. ;) His toughest decision every day is deciding what socks to wear.


Check out Lt. Col Mower’s stories on Army Strong here. If you are considering army dentistry, you’ll find them useful. Even if you are not, they are an insightful and interesting read about working as a dentist.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

lab advice: name on everything.

For lab, we get a standardized set of dental laboratory supplies/equipment. Because everyone gets the same thing, it is easy to get things mixed up with your neighbor especially in the frantic hustle of preclinic.

I learned (after losing a plastic spatula and a plastic hatchet) to put names/marks on everything and to double-check before leaving the clinic. I lost my high-speed instrument last year- how the heck did I forget a $1000 piece of equipment? Thankfully someone kind returned it but until I found it, my entire week was ruined.

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Bri-cheesy got me these stickers and I just adore them. She ordered these personalized ones for me- I think these would be a perfect gift for current/future dental students. I took a sleeve of these to school and went crazy with the stickers.

This week was… interesting. Sometimes I think dental school is my clutch excuse. Saying I’m busy with school can be a good believable excuse when people say: why aren’t you dating, you should pursue your interests, why not learn so-and-so?

Anyway, thank you because it’s just almost Friday (ten minutes away)! I’ve been able to catch the sunset after class.

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Speaking of sunsets, preclinic is really winding down- 20 days left officially! We’ll get out clinic assignments at the end of this month.

One more practical exam. I’m crossing my fingers that our professor will be nice and tell us ahead what we’ll be tested on. Sometimes the tooth is unannounced (#15 or #30!) but this time it’s the kind of provisional- direct or indirect.

Monday, January 13, 2014

embrace the “slashes”


I haven’t written in a week. That’s forever in my blogging world.

We had a two-day practical Wednesday and Thursday and I spent rest of the week vegging out. In preparation for the practical exam, I spent many hours in lab listening to podcasts and audible books. I got to finish The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, something I’ve been meaning to read since forever. I bookmarked this quote:

Challenge brings happiness because it allows you to expand your self-definition. the more elements make up your identity, the less threatening it is when any one element is threatened.

It reminded me of another point from The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown (you know she’s such a huge inspiration for me). She encourages slashes in your career titles because it allows you to OWN your passions and interests instead of dismissing them as side projects or “I just do it for fun…”

Aftermaths of a practical. They need to make a reality show about dental school practicals. The last ten minute countdown gets my heart racing SO DARN FAST.

2014-01-08 16.24.24

Getting a Twitter encouraged me to think about my “title”. My three are so very practical. My friend had “hopeless romantic” on his! I love it!!

I love that Hilary Clinton owns her many titles- especially the TBD part, because sometimes I freak out realizing I can’t grow up to be painter or a writer anymore (Am I grown up? Am I a “grown-up”?).  I’ve chosen my career as a dentist! But when you add in that slash, possibilities open up.

What is the “/” in your title? What part of you do you want to embrace more?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

find a penn dentist

Looking to switch your dentist? Did you move to a new area? All in all, are you looking for a dentist in your area?

In addition to our three Penn faculty practices around Philadelphia and the dental school itself, you can use this “Find a Penn Dentist” database to locate a Penn alum near you.

I looked up Penn dentists near Houston near Rice University. There are only two Penn dental grads within 10-mile radius: Dr. Eric Choudhury and Dr. Alma Payumo at Choudhury Dental Center.


Does this mean I should move to Houston post-graduation? I do love the Texas Medical Center and the beautiful West University neighborhoods. We’ll see.

You can even search specific specialties to find who you are looking for. I think this database is great even for current dental students and dentists looking to connect with fellow Penn dental graduates. I wish I’d known about it when I was living in Houston and working on dental school applications!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

return to school (or not): SNOW DAY!!!

To me cupcakes epitomize celebrations. Colorful, happy, and DELICIOUS. I find that my sweet tooth has been going away lately though. I’d much rather eat something savory than sweet. But is that something to do with my profession? That’s for another post.

mini cupcake from Magnolia Bakery NYCmini magnolia (640x478)

Time to celebrate because we had a snow day. It was one of those dream-come-true SNOW DAYS this Friday. Considering we came back to dental school on the 2nd (the Thursday), it was like winter break got a little extended. Sleeping in, going leisurely grocery shopping (this is such a luxury for me), phone calls for hours and reading in bed without an alarm clock.

Although everyone was in lab all day anyway because of our upcoming practical, seeing the snow made me very happy.

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Until this turned into this mush…

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Okay, brown snow is still snow. To me it’s one of the wonders of living in Philadelphia: how quickly snow gets cleared out on sidewalks and roads.

Those of you reading this from the comfort of your own beds at home-home, enjoy!
Dental school will start soon enough for everyone. ;)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 begins today.

Banana bread is baking in the kitchen and clean clothes tumbling in the dryer. It’s a great first day of the new year.

I had the most wonderful winter break thanks to my best friend. She braved the cold Philly weather to see me! We almost froze to death yesterday at Penn’s Landing but even that is a unique experience we couldn’t have in Dallas. It was a whirlwind of NYC-Vedge- Reading Terminal Market-crack pie-bubble tea-Zachary Levi.



We received the most wonderful news last night to begin the new year! We were literally taking selfies (it’s just what we do) when H’s texts popped up over our pictures. H + A are going to be the smartest, most hard-working and gorgeous couple ever (CONGRATS YOU TWO!!!! So much love!). Meanwhile, Alex and I are placing bets on who will be next among the remaining three.

Skyping with this happy couple and sipping on tea made me calm down about this upcoming semester. Upcoming as in…. well, dental school starts TOMORROW.

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I hope everyone’s 2014 is filled with beauty and boldness! And I saw this on someone’s status and I love it too much not to share: “let your past be your past.” 2013 is over, let’s not linger over it.

- Yesle

What are you excited about in the new year? How did you ring in the new year 2014?