Casting Off the D3 Jadedness

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by Riley Schaff, University of Michigan (2017)

As the Class of 2019 donned their white coats for the first time, I couldn’t help but think back two years to my own White Coat Ceremony.  Bright-eyed and smiling, I remember as we posed for photos with the eager anticipation of being one step closer to that prefix “Dr.”  As I’m sure could be easily surmised, I have not been bright-eyed and smiling every day since then.  Getting through each day in dental school can be an arduous task at times, and, as I’m now entering full-time clinical care, school has a whole new set of stressors and challenges.  I, like many of my classmates and third-year counterparts at other dental schools, often feel a little wearied.
Seeing patients full time has been something I’ve looked forward to since I decided I wanted to become a healthcare professional.  Being able to interact with people while helping them achieve better health is an incredibly rewarding experience, and, even after just a few months in the clinic, I have already had my fair share of hugs and thank you notes from my patients.  However, as every third-year (and fourth-year) dental student knows, those experiences are balanced by long days in clinic when things don’t go as planned and patients who don’t show up.  As I reflect on the experiences of both the last few months and the last few years, I do see how I’ve grown both as a person and as a professional. There are many days indeed I feel jaded and dread heading into school, but I am coming to realize those days are balanced by seeing grateful patients that reminds me why I chose dentistry.  Those tough days go a little smoother as I have begun to feel more comfortable and confident in my skin as a clinician.
This halfway milestone, beginning my third year, reminds me why I began dental school bright-eyed and smiling, wearing my white coat free of PVS stains and die stone on my sleeves.  I want to regain my optimism and positivity and cast off this jadedness. Two years closer to my DDS with two years to go, I’m focusing on this contagious excitement to be a member of this profession.  The white coat-donning eagerness of the new D1s is reinvigorating, and I hope I can continue tackling the challenges and triumphs ahead with the D1-esque smile.

Invisalign vs: Fixed Appliances: What’s the Difference?

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by Mudita Agrawal, University of Michigan (2016)


Cosmetic dentistry is becoming increasingly common as people focus on improving their smiles.  Orthodontic treatment is just one facet of this increased attention to cosmetics.  Orthodontics, with its prefix coming from the Greek word meaning “straight,” is the specialty of dentistry that deals with straightening teeth.   Dental professionals use various techniques to straighten teeth. Teeth are moved to give them an ideal position, improve esthetics, and to promote better function of the patient’s bite. Dental professionals improve the patient’s smile while also focusing on his or her oral health.

Most commonly, either braces or Invisalign are used to straighten teeth. Invisalign is a great tool to improve the malocclusion of teeth though it does not work in every case. It uses a series of clear plastic trays to move teeth one step at a time. On the other hand, braces usually use metal wires and brackets to position the teeth.

Invisalign is a great method of doing tooth movements that are not very complicated.  It also works better for esthetic purposes than metallic wires and brackets. These are a set of clear, computer-generated plastic trays ideally worn 24 hours a day and are changed every two weeks. There are certain retention trays given to patients after tooth movement is complete. One of Invisalign’s main advantages is that the trays are thin and unnoticeable. It also offers some degree of comfort because it does not affect the patient’s speech much and also may make him or her feel comfortable in social situations.

Treatment with braces uses brackets which are attached to teeth and subsequently to a wire. An orthodontist or any other trained dental professional is responsible for fixing the dental braces onto the teeth. This supports slight teeth movements that, over time, provide proper alignment and straightening of the teeth. One benefit of dental braces over Invisalign is that these are not removable so patient compliance would not be as great an issue.  Dental braces also afford more precise control of a tooth’s movement compared to Invisalign.  Braces work much more efficiently for complicated tooth movements, and they can also be expected to act faster at closing gaps and aligning the teeth.

Choosing between various orthodontic treatment ultimately is based on the patient’s expectations, desires, and severity of malocclusion.  Considering these three things, the patient and his or her dental professional can decide on an avenue that will give them the smile they have always wanted!

Welcoming our District 6 Cabinet VP’s

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Name: Riley Schaff

Cabinet position: Communications Chair and U-M Chapter Vice President

School and Year: University of Michigan, Class of 2017

  1. If you weren’t studying dentistry, what would you want to study?

I would want to study music if I weren’t studying dentistry. I have played piano since I was young and have always loved it.

  1. What is your favorite hobby?

My favorite hobby is watching Netflix in my bed.

Name: Eli William

Cabinet Position: CWRU Chapter Vice President

School and Year: Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, Class of 2017

  1. If you weren’t studying dentistry, what would you want to study?

I would still be studying biology. I love learning about why things happen on a physiological level and what we are made of on a cellular/molecular level. I took almost every biology class possible in university (from genetics/evolution to plant biology). As for a job, I’d love to flip houses on the side. It’s awesome to think that you can take a “helpless” project and turn it into someone’s dream home! Science + Esthetics have always been my interests, I guess (hello dentistry!).

  1. What is your favorite hobby?

I need a break from the stress of school sometimes, so when I can I turn to reality television + popular culture. Please don’t judge.

Name: Kelli Brooks

Cabinet position: WVU Chapter Vice President

School and year: West Virginia University, Class of 2017

  1. If you weren’t studying dentistry, what would you want to study?

If I weren’t studying dentistry I would most likely be in another medical field like oncology, pathology, or maybe even teaching.

  1. What is your favorite hobby?

My favorite hobby is probably golfing, although it is hard to choose just one! I love being outdoors whether it’s golfing, hiking, spending time with friends on the lake, or snowboarding in the winter. Golf is my favorite because it gives me a chance enjoy the quiet and clear my head after a stressful day at school!

Name: Kathryn Dickmann

Cabinet position: District 6 Fundraising Chair and UDM Chapter Vice President

School and year: University of Detroit Mercy, Class of 2017

  1. If you weren’t studying dentistry, what would you want to study?

I would be studying nutrition and food science. It fascinates me and I think it is important to be conscious of what we put in our bodies and how it affects us!

  1. What is your favorite hobby?

Being active!

Name: David Gorenz

Cabinet position: OSU Chapter Vice President

School and year: The Ohio State University, Class of 2017

  1. If you weren’t studying dentistry, what would you want to study?

If I weren’t studying dentistry, I would want to study and teach history. American History and European history were two of my favorite classes in high school, and I really enjoyed learning about Ancient Rome in my Latin courses. I still enjoy reading books and articles about these things and visiting history museums when I’m on vacation.

  1. What is your favorite hobby?

My current favorite hobbies are playing beach volleyball and kickball in local sports leagues here in Columbus! I’ve been playing weekly volleyball games with 5 of my fellow classmates over the last two summers and we have built some great team skills in the process. We just joined a weekly kickball league for the second straight summer as well, so my Mondays and Tuesdays are now two of my favorite days of the week because they are our kickball and volleyball days.

Green Dentistry

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by Mudita Agrawal, University of Michigan (2016)

It was a beautiful Sunday morning in Kolkata, India when I went to the market to get vegetables with my husband. There was the usual chaos of everyone trying to get their hands on the freshest vegetables for the best deal. Suddenly, something caught my attention.  I saw a huge pile of plastic, boxes, and leftovers stacked in the corner of the alley that were covered with animals trying to find their early morning breakfast. It struck me then that we are living in a world where climatic changes have begun to hammer our ecosystems and compromise our living conditions. While undoing past damage is not possible, bettering the situation for future generations is still within our reach. It is then that I realized that we as dentists should go green, too!

Soon enough, I learned about green dentistry and came to know of innovative and easy ways to reduce waste, conserve energy and water, and to reduce pollution. A green dental practice is one that reflects our commitment to the well-being of our patients, team members, community, and the environment. Through diligent planning we can create high-performance green facilities that are a healthy, productive place to work, are less costly to operate and maintain, and would reduce our environmental footprint.

Dental clinic infection control and sterilization processes can be a major source of pollution. These plastic-containing products that do not decompose are used for a short time and end up in landfills. They can jeopardize employee health and can pollute our community’s water systems.  One possible alternative is the use of steam sterilization.  This method can replace more toxic chemical-based sterilization. The use of cloth lab coats, re-usable cloth patient barriers, and FDA-registered re-usable pouches and wraps all reduce the use of disposables in the dental office.

Traditional x-ray fixers contain chemicals such as ammonium thiocyanate and boric anhydride which can be hazardous if ingested or inhaled. Another by-product of traditional x-rays would be lead which is a deadly neurotoxin. Digital imaging is a solution to this issue. If traditional x-rays are taken, fixer and developer solutions can be recycled.

Amalgam filling material contains mercury, silver, tin and copper. Mercury in our drinking, irrigation, and fishing waters can be a serious environmental concern. Nowadays, most dental offices are equipped with amalgam separators.  These are a method of filtration that are readily available, relatively inexpensive, and low-maintenance pieces of equipment.

Clean water is one of the most undervalued dental supplies, considering the worldwide water crisis threatens human health and stability in many areas of the globe. Suction systems, also known as dental vacuum systems, are an important piece of machinery for any dental office. Unfortunately, these systems use a tremendous amount of water. With the world facing such a serious water crisis, we shouldn’t be pouring this precious resource down the drain. High-tech, dry vacuum systems are a green alternative that accomplish the same results while using no water at all.  Green dental practices can also implement water-saving initiatives such as encouraging patients to turn off the water while they brush.

We can take small steps that have the possibility to bring about a huge difference to the ecosystem as a whole.  Recycling materials such as aluminum, glass, plastic, paper, and steel reduces office waste. Dental clinics can also go paperless! We can utilize a virtual office for patient charting, billing and radiography. We can also send appointment reminders through email or text message only. We can save electricity by installing solar electric panels and solar water heaters, using LCD computer screens instead of CRT displays screens, installing skylights to enhance lighting and keeping it energy free, and installing motion detectors and timers for lights.

Contrary to the perception that eco-friendly methods cost more, we now know that, in the long run, going green saves green! Green dentistry lowers supply costs, integrates high-tech innovations, and makes efficient use of staff time, reducing the overhead and increasing productivity for a dental practice.  With cognizance toward how we treat both our patients and our environment, we can all transform how we practice dentistry for the good of all.

A Word from our Legislative Liaison

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by Spencer Tepe, Ohio State University (2017)
This year I inherited the Legislative Liaison position of Ohio State. We had a successful year at Ohio State in regards to advocacy and are very proud of our achievements. We have many things now to which we can strive in the coming year and I’m the one to see that it happens. But this post does not concern what we may or may not do in regards to advocacy efforts. In fact, I believe my last post entailed much of that. Rather, this post is about ASDA in its whole and what it has offered to me personally thus far.
To date, I’ve had the pleasure and good fortune to serve in a variety of roles within ASDA. In my position now, I make executive decisions, manage others, delegate tasks and hold people accountable. My responsibilities have increased both on the local and district level. In this process I have learned a lot about my peers and myself. I have been able to refine my leadership skills via interaction with those who are more experienced and through self-reflection. My tenure in ASDA has been very rewarding and this post speaks merely to one aspect of what ASDA has offered me.
And so, my advice is simple. Get involved. Challenge yourself to do more. Don’t be discouraged by a loss in an election. And when you’ve secured the role you’ve desired, recruit as many as you’re able. Sometimes, the most significant contributions come from places you’d least expect.

Back and Neck Pain, and How to Avoid It!

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by Mudita Agrawal, University of Michigan (2016)

During the first year of dental school, we are taught the importance of patient and operator positioning. However, when we enter the simulation lab, it’s easy to adopt a mindset of learning the dental skills first and the ergonomics later. Soon enough, we feel more comfortable and confident doing those dental procedures in wrong positions. After a few years, these wrong positions start taking a toll on our neck and back muscles. A 2005 study by Dr. David has proven that 46-71% of the students  at dental school experienced neck, shoulder, and back pain with more than 70% reporting pain by their 3rd year.

When the head, neck, and back are tilted to one side while working, the muscles in use on one side become shorter and stronger and the other side becomes lengthened and weakened. The overall effect is muscle imbalance.  On top of that, the shortened muscles getting poorer blood supply. Unequal tension on the spine can cause pain, too, starting as infrequent back and neck pain and developing into chronic pain.  This ultimately can lead to a severe muskoloskeletal disorder which may require surgery or early retirement.

A sobering analogy shows that maintaining your head position in a full upper body lean or tilt of 30 degrees from the pelvis for 10 minutes requires muscular exertion equivalent to curling a 20-pound dumbbell 266 times or curling a 100-pound barbell 53 times!

So what do we do to prevent this chronic pain?  Weightlifting and resistance training can be great exercise with many physiologic benefits. Exercise and physical therapy should be part of every dentist’s routine.  Operator stool selection can help with right positioning as well. Good chair selection can promote healthier ergonomic operator positions.

As dental students, we must break habits that promote poor ergonomics.  With some focus and a mindset of future pain prevention, we can all develop good habits and have long, healthy, pain-free careers.


Citation link-


DAVID W. RISING, BRADFORD C. BENNETT, KEVIN HURSH, OCTAVIA PLESH. Reports of body pain in a dental student population: JADA; Jan 2005; 136(1) ,81-86

WVU’s First Annual AMALGALA

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By: Megan Borak

Every spring WVU ASDA hosts a formal event for students at the usual spot: the upstairs of a downtown Morgantown venue. Every year, no one really knows what to call this event. Looking on past Instagram posts, the name had ranged from “Dental School Formal” to “Dental School Prom” to “Dental School Semi- Formal” and even “Dental School Dance.” We would all get super dressed up to just go downtown and try our best not to bore our dates by talking about teeth the entire night (we ALL do it- and we all can’t help it).

This year, when I was supposed to be cramming for my Principles of Medicine exam and was on Facebook instead, I came across OSU’s MandiBall. Green with envy, I decided the most important thing to do for the rest of my Sunday study session was to re-name the formal ASDA puts on. After polling all the students I could find in the library, “Exocytosted” was considered not-so-appropriate and “The AMALGALA” was deemed the official WVU ASDA formal name! With huge organization and planning of our social chair, Christa, we gave the event a much-needed revamp and changed the affair to a sit down dinner followed by dancing at a local country club to match the snazzy new name.

The turnout ended up fantastic! The students looked great! And one of our D2’s with the second-best moves on the dance floor put together an awesome playlist at a weeks’ notice. The best part is that only one table was broken, and we were officially invited back next year! So, if you want to see what fun was had by the West Virginia ASDA chapter, just check the #Amalgala hashtag on Facebook or Instagram to see our trademarked event! I may end up taking a B or a C in Principles of Medicine, but it was worth it listening to everyone struggling to pronounce “Amalgala” as they talked about how much fun they had weeks later!

National Dental Student Lobby Day 2015

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by: Randi Polster

Attending National Student Lobby Day in Washington D.C. was an amazing experience. It was an opportunity for all us students to see dentistry from a different point of view. Sometimes while studying for exams and stressing over the next complex dental procedure we have to perform, we forget about how bigger things like politics can affect our future. In Washington, we were all reminded of how important it is for us to speak out and use our voice to protect our profession.

We kicked off the meeting with a great District 6 event at Arlington Rooftop Bar and Grill. We couldn’t have asked for better weather and a better atmosphere to reconnect with old friends and make new! It was a really great way to come together as a district and share stories about our dental school experiences as well as our lives outside of dental school. Later we were joined by other districts to make the evening more exciting than it already was! It was really nice to mingle with everyone before the lobbying began.

On the first day of the meeting, we learned more about our purpose in Washington. We learned how to lobby, what issues we were lobbying, and were fortunate to listen to a variety of excellent speakers. We spent the majority of the day learning about H.R. 539 Action for Dental Health Act and H.R. 649 Student Loan Refinancing Act. These bills are important to us as students because they would allow our communities better access to care and create less stress on students as they face their overwhelming debt after graduation. We were fortunate to have Representative Brian Babin and Representative Paul Gosar speak to us about these bills before our journey to Capital Hill the next day. We engaged them in a very helpful Q & A session and learned how to approach our goal of gaining support to these issues.

The next morning, the bus departed for Capital Hill and approximately 380 students unified together to share our thoughts and personal stories with our respective congressmen. We voiced our opinion of H.R. 539 and H.R. 649 with representatives, senators, and their office staff. One of my meetings was with Representative Steve Stivers who represents the 15th district of Ohio. I was nervous at first to meet with a congressman, but it turned out to be a very casual conversation. It was great to hear his view on the issues and I felt my voice was heard. Throughout the day, it was refreshing to feel support in all my meetings and witness how invested they all were in our concerns.

At the end of the meeting, we were all exhausted after some good lobbying and connecting with students from all across the country. This exhaustion was a good feeling because it meant it was yet another successful ASDA adventure! It was an exceptional experience that I recommend every student attend if possible before they leave school.

Supreme Court Decides Against Dentists in North Carolina Teeth Whitening Case

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by: Mudita Agrawal

Teeth-whitening services can be expensive in a dentist’s office. It can range anywhere from $400 to $1,300. In North Carolina, spas, salons, and stores realized this and they began offering similar services for dramatically lower prices. By 2003, these spas and salons were spread all over the state.

Soon enough after these non-dentists began providing teeth-whitening services, there were several complaints from consumers such as bleeding or “chemically burned” gums. There were also complaints of procedures being performed without gloves or masks. As a result of this, the state dental board did an investigation, and more than 40 cease-and-desist letters to non-dentist teeth-whitening providers were issued. The North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners accused the whitening businesses of practicing dentistry without a license and ordered them to stop the practice or face potential criminal charges. They also sent letter to malls asking them not to lease space to non-dentists who provided teeth whitening.

The Federal Trade Commission complained against the board on June 17, 2010, alleging that the board was harming competition by preventing non-dentists from providing teeth-whitening services in North Carolina. The U.S. Court of Appeals agreed that the state regulatory scheme violated federal antitrust law by giving private dentists the power to knock out their competitors for personal gain.

The North Carolina state board then filed the case with the U.S. Supreme Court as they felt that the Supreme Court’s decision could have far-reaching implications. Since 2005, at least 14 states have changed their laws or regulations to exclude all but licensed dentists, dental hygienists or dental assistants from offering teeth-whitening services.

In February, the U.S. Supreme Court gave the decision that the North Carolina state dental board does not have the authority to regulate teeth whitening services. It was a decision with the potential to transform the makeup and reach of similar licensing boards across the country, including those that oversee lawyers, nurses, and doctors. This ruling may have far-reaching consequences for dentists and other professionals across The U.S. and the public they serve.