Friday, January 16, 2015

How to become a dental wizard

Malcolm Gladwell says you must devote 10,000 hour to something to become an expert. If we assume dental school is 40 hours * 50 weeks * 4 years, I clock in at 8,000 hours. And realistically, we get summers off, my vacations are dedicatedly dentistry-free, and some weeks fall short of 40 hours. In conclusion, I won’t be a dental wizard come graduation day- not just yet.

I had a discussion with a friend about what a residency is. (I made a list of potential residencies to this winter break! I want to stay in the northeast in a city with good public transportation- that much I know.) He said that a residency is essentially some time you devote to furthering your knowledge. Instead of going out and practicing, you pause and say, “let me delve into this one thing”. The specific cases (which you hope to master) are funneled to you and you practice, practice, practice.

Early this week I completed some restorations (lingual class III’s for you dentists!), stepped back, and thought “dang it looks good". Then Wednesday happened: I have a patient in the chair, working on a Class II. It's ten minutes to lunchtime and after taking off the rubber dam, no contact on the mesial.

"I don't know what happened."

You know the feeling when your heart just drops? That was me, dangling the piece of floss in my hand like "What the frenectomy just happened?". My faculty offered to stay behind and help me out. We used a different matrix system and after he helped me set it up, I said I could do it this time.

Same thing, guys. Took off the rubber dam and NO CONTACT. I almost cried at this point. It was 1PM, no lunch break, and another patient was in the waiting room. Deep breath in, deep breath out. I needed to remember this quote and let it go- for today. Thankfully the patient was really understanding. She reads this blog too! But I'm not sure if she wants everyone to know she's walking around with an open contact... ;)

My DMD will stand for: dentistry magic dandy-bird. It's such a jumpy journey! Dentistry is such a personal thing for me: I take a ton of pride in every restoration I place. And if it doesn't go well, I am frustrated and disappointed.

10,000 hours. I've got a long way to go.


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  3. YESLE!! This post is the best ever. My favorite bits were "what the frenectomy" and "dentistry magic dandy-bird". Lol, you're awesome. But as you must already know, every dental magic dandy-doodle has their off days, no matter HOW magical. And as my spin instructor likes to say, it's these moments that stretch us and make us better. And even if she's referring to spin, we can relate it to the dental life as well :)

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