Developments in Dentistry

Whilst preparing for my interviews I have put time into preparing an answer for my knowledge of recent developments in the field of dentistry. I have currently been offered an interview at Plymouth University which I am really excited about and am awaiting news of the remaining three of my universities.

A recent evolution in dentistry that captured my interest is the VELscope. This is a technology that has changed the way that mucosal examinations are performed. This is a device that emits a harmless blue light which is used to inspect the inner of the mouth. This device can be used to detect abnormalities within the mouth such as dysplasia or oral cancer. The device does this because it is sensitive to abnormal tissue changes as the absorption of the blue light spectrum causes the soft tissue to naturally fluoresce. They form distinct patterns and where disruptions occur it shows a sign of the abnormalities. This is crucial because early discovery shows that the survival rate of oral cancer patients is 83% whereas if failed to discover early the survival rate unfortunately drops to 50%. This particular development is interesting to me as a previous family member had been diagnosed with such a disease before the invention of the device. I wonder if had this device existed at the time, she would have had early diagnosis.

During my work experience I was impressed by the use of Digital X ray machines. This led me to conduct further research into these. I noticed the speed at which the X ray can be taken and then almost instantly displayed on the screen. This was useful as it allowed the dentist to visually aid the explanation of an issue to each patient. Through observation of ‘grey’ areas it is also extremely simple to identify areas of infection/decay. An example of where this was useful in work experience was when explaining an issue to a foreign patient who lacked fluency in English therefore it was beneficial to use the images.  Digital X-rays are also less harmful for patients as they contain up to 90% less radiation compared to traditional X-rays.

These two developments really interested me as perhaps they are less obvious than implants and the use of new filling material as I mentioned in my personal statement.

Thank you for reading.




Dental Implant Surgery

Ever since taking place in work experience earlier in the year, I have become increasingly interested in Implant surgery. As I witnessed this fine procedure, I was in awe of the complex precision and Manuel dexterity on display. Dental implants are in effect a replacement for a tooth’s root. They fit directly into your jawbone and hold crowns or false teeth in place, in the same way that roots support natural teeth. Dental implants are usually made of titanium and have an internal screw called an abutment that holds a false tooth or perhaps a bridge in place. Alternatives to this procedure are removable dentures or a bridge, however neither are as long term and preventative as the implant. Implant surgery also leaves other teeth at less risk of being affected due to the fact that in preparation of a bridge for example, the surrounding teeth are left exposed. Bridges are also reliant on good health of the supporting teeth whereas the implant will have its own anchor due to the presence of the titanium abutment. The  Dental Implant surgery is an exciting example, as mentioned in my personal statement, of how cosmetic dentistry can improve the mental and oral health of a patient. For example, a ‘Bupa, study of 2,000 UK employees found that 28% of workers try not to smile at work, as they are not confident about their teeth. It is procedures such as this that can improve the confidence of a patient. In perhaps just an hour long appointment, a patient can leave with the confidence to smile and in turn do things they wouldn’t previously felt able to do such as apply for a job. Through my work experience I met a man who was so embarrassed about the state of his teeth that he didn’t feel able to attend a job interview but when he left he was genuinely beaming. This is the beauty of Dentistry in my eyes.

In order to perform Implant surgery, theremare several pathways a dentist can take. In order to gain a certificates course in Dental Implantolgy, 60 hours of learning must take place in 7-10 days. However, I am interested in taking this a step further. For example, over a 2 year part time course I would have the opportunity to gain a PG diploma. However, after practising dentistry for a few years, I feel as though I would have the hunger for further learning meaning I may be enticed to take a full time 1-2 year course to gain an MSc in implantology or even a 5 year PhD. This is purely an ambition at this moment in time however after speaking to several Dentists at work experience, I understand the hunger for further challenge and learning to make each day in the work place continually test my ability.

Liverpool University Open Day

As storm Brian crashed against the British coast, I made the 170 mile journey from South Wales to Liverpool. This is a city that appeals to me as I love the energy you feel since its regeneration in 2008. I have made several journeys up each year with my father to watch the football. Consequently, we found the day started with an early stadium tour of Anfield before swiftly maneuvering over to the dental school. I was immediately struck by the close proximity of the dental school to the library which is a place I will likely be making my second home. In terms of the course, I was impressed by the use of application of problem based learning which is on of the reasons I applied to the University. The motto of not helping students to graduate, but to guide them into becoming professionals is a strong message which I believe to be crucial. However, what stood out to me was the fact that the dental school at Liverpool is one of just two in the UK where students get the opportunity to be placed in a dental practice. This is really exciting because it will give students a real taste of what their career will have to hold which can in turn be highly motivating. As is always the case at open days, I found talking to the current pupils really useful as you get an honest opinion of the University as well as the social side of things, which looked very attractive.

I really enjoyed my open day at Liverpool University and look forward to hearing back about my 4 options in the coming weeks.

Why Do I Want to be a Dentist?

After several drafts of my personal statement, I have spent hours pondering over how to word the reason I wish to study dentistry. My desire to study dentistry and to ultimately become a practising dentist stems from the massive satisfaction I feel when I physically complete a task that makes a genuine difference to someone’s life. Due to my high practical ability and my love for Chemistry and Biology; I have always targeted a medical career. However, what makes Dentistry stand out to me above medicine is the fact that as a dentist, I will be able to diagnose and treat each patient from start to finish. Therefore, building a relationship and a level of trust with each patient meaning I will have the opportunity to educate them and reach a goal in terms of oral health through continuity of care. In Medicine, you regularly have to pass each patient down a chain of specialists, therefore not having the opportunity to build a rapport as seen in a career in Dentistry. I am excited by the fact that the precise work of my hands will be able to solve such a variety of complex issues each patient may have. I have been motivated to study dentistry for some time and the opportunity of forging a career in a field which will continually challenge my own individual attributes is partially responsible for this. The constantly innovating field is well suited to my hunger for a career in lifelong learning.

I really hope to convey these points in my personal statement however the real test is confining my motivation in order to be tailored to the 4000 character limit of the application. Regardless of the outcome, I will be a practising dentist in my future.

Link Between Gum Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease

I apologise for my lack of activity recently. I have been very busy with studying for my UKCAT examination and my personal statement. However, the studying seems to have been worth it as I achieved a 655 score with a band 1 for the situational judgement section. I am extremely pleased with this and receiving a result such as this, which is above the mean score, lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. I found that revising the GMC’s, ‘9 Principles of Dentistry’ really aided me in the situational judgement section.

I recently read that people suffering with gum disease for 10 years or longer are 70%  more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. I have been planning to write about this for 2 weeks as this is an issue close to my heart with a family member sufferings from Parkinson’s disease, which has similar symptoms to Alzheimer’s disease. A study conducted by, ‘Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy,’ found that patients who suffered with long term gum disease of 10 years or longer, were 70% more likely to develop the disease. This is particularly interesting to me because I target a career in dentistry, not only improve the oral health of my patients, but also to improve their general health. This investigation provides further evidence that links between oral health and serious disease are becoming increasingly apparent.

However, these can be prevented by consistent check ups and preventative care. This case is one of many that highlights the importance of solid dental care and the general oral education of each patient.

Orthodontist Work Experience

I recently undertook a day of work experience at an Orthodontic practice in Swansea. Orthodontics is a specialty field of dentistry. In order to become an orthodontist, you must undertake an additional 3 years of training after gaining a degree in dental surgery. At the end of this training scheme, you must be successful in the ‘membership in Orthodontics examination.’

During my day at the orthodontist I was able to witness a number of highly technical procedures. However what really stood out to me was the level of care and communication that must be shown by the orthodontist toward the patient who is making a decision which is going to alter their appearance for generally a period of 18 months. As a contrast to dentistry, where patients ages can range from around 4 to 90 on a general day, the Orthodontist rarely sees a patient over the age of 14 meaning they will generally have to communicate with both the child and the parent. I recently read up on the 9 principles of dentistry on the GDC website and was particularly interested in how conveyed these principles in a way that was tailor-made to suit the demands of each individual patient. The obtainment of valid consent was a crucial factor as the orthodontist must be sure that the child themselves generally wants to have a procedure put in place and that it is not perhaps the parents pushing them to do so. We live in a different generation where our appearance is generally thought of as highly important to us and as a result these procedures such as braces are more than often welcomed if not requested. I was also intrigued to see how the orthodontist put together  a care plan for the patient based on the level of their needs meaning the orthodontists people and organisational planning skills must really be on par with their clinical ability.

An observation I made throughout the day is the difference in atmosphere at an orthodontic practice compared to a dental practice. I certainly felt as though it was perhaps less emotionally demanding due to the fact 90% of the patients are children and no patients came in in a state of pain, they simply wanted to alter the cosmetics of their teeth for growth purposes. However, the dentist will see patients who are in such pain that they immediately need an injection and a tooth extracted. They are certainly two very contrasting aspects of a similar field.

I will definitely consider pursuing  a career in orthodontist in the future however at the moment I am driven on my one goal of getting in to dentistry at my chosen University. i am highly grateful to the practice who enabled me to get a taste for Orthodontics and to the Orthodontist who has also helped me hugely in giving me contact details of a tutor for my University interviews.

I am currently in the middle of preparing my personal statement in which I hope to include the web address to the blog. It is odd to think that by October 15th my application will have been sent off and the wait to hear about an interview will begin.




AS Results Day

Finally the anticipated day was here. I had spent a total time of 396 hours revising for my Summer examinations, motivated by the chance of a place at the University of my choice to study Dental Surgery. I generally do not feel nervous to receive my results due to the fact I have given my absolute maximum and once you have done the work and answered the papers, the result is set in stone. However, on this occasion, with my application into Dentistry on the line, it was difficult not to be feeling the nerves in the car ride to the college. I am a strong believer that hard work pays off and surely enough, the lunchtimes spent in the library proved worth it as I received 4 A grades at AS level. I am extremely proud of these results due to the fact I improved from a predicted E grade in Chemistry and Biology in January. These grades now have given me the foundation to apply where I wish to apply for Dental Surgey. However, the bar must be raised again from here as I prepare my personal statement and revise for the UKCAT entry examination. It is exciting to think that in one year I will know wether I have earned my place in University. This next year will be a serious grind but I am sure to enjoy pushing myself to reach my goal.

Dental Surgery Work Experience

I recently undertook a week of work experience at a Dental surgery in Swansea. I really enjoyed my week and genuinely did not want it to end. I feel as though I have learnt more in a week about Dentistry and what is takes to become a Dentist than I have previously learnt in all my years of education. As opposed to my previous work experience in a purely NHS orientated practice, this practice takes on a set number of NHS patients per year alongside private patients at the surgery. This gave me an amazing opportunity to witness more complex and varied procedures which cannot be performed via the NHS. An example of one of these procedures was Dental implant surgery. Dental implants are an artificial replacement for a tooth’s root. They fit directly into your jawbone where they hold crowns or false teeth in place, in the same way that roots support natural teeth. This was particularly interesting to me as it was an enormous contrast to the general fillings and check ups I had witnessed. The precision and clinical ability on show during this procedure really appealed to me as this is where I want to be in 10 years.

This practice offered a unique experience to me as working alongside the Dental surgeons, is a Dental hygienist, a consultant and a radiography operator. I spent time with the Dental hygienist over the week in order to widen the spectrum of my understanding of Dentistry. This gave me an insight on the prevention of oral disease which is important to me as with so many people having a fear of “the dentist,” many oral conditions can become life threatening if left unassessed and untreated. I was able to witness the hygienist assess the condition of patients in order to offer specific and preventative care to maintain oral health. I was also lucky enough to witness a consultation meeting with the Dental consultant. This made me appreciate the relationship between the Dentist and the patient, and the level of care that goes into developing a plan for the patient. It was also explained to me how by working alongside the Dental surgeons, a Dental consultant can assist in developing the practice and the relationship between the dentist and patient.

Something that really stood out to me is the communication and people skills a Dentist must have in order to really build up a layer of trust with the patient in order to make them feel as comfortable and in control as possible when in the chair. I found it amazing how people would enter and the first thing they say is related to how much they “hate the dentist,” however due to the presentation of treatment options by the Dentist, the patient can be made to feel as though they are in control of the situation and hence more comfortable with proceedings. This is crucial because by building this positive relationship with the patient, it means they are more likely to seek treatment in future meaning their oral health will drastically improve. Seeing these people’s opinion change in a positive manner is what it is all about to me and in the future I wish to be able to comfort and treat those who are genuinely terrified of me in order to improve their oral health. Your mouth is so important to people, a smile is key in making a first impression and due to the society we live in, appearance is increasingly important even in seeking employment.

Lastly I would like to note how accommodating the practice was to me, an aspiring Dentist. In previous work experience I have simply shadowed a single dentist over the whole day period, which is great as you perhaps get a more realistic experience of a day as a Dentist, however this practice I felt really wanted to give me an experience in the world of Dentistry and some of its more complex aspects. I was given a tour of the practice and shown how the machinery worked. I was in fact amazed that the saliva ejector is connected to a series of turbines in a control room. Each day I would be told which dentist to shadow at certain times in order to witness the more complex and interesting procedures. As a result I was able to witness; root canal treatment, wisdom tooth extraction, crown preparation and fitting, bridge preparation and fitting, a re-build of incisors using white composite and a denture preparation and fitting. I felt genuinely involved in proceedings throughout the day with the Dentists explaining their actions to me during treatment and even drawing out diagrams for me as a visual representation and also allowing me to analyse some of the models and equipment they use in order to determine a course of action. I was given the opportunity to speak to and question the dentists who had been through the Universities I wish to apply to such as Cardiff, Bristol, Liverpool, Plymouth and Birmingham. They shared their experiences with me and gave me an insight on applying and tips to assist me with the UKCAT admissions test. I am very thankful to this practice for improving my drive to work to the best of my ability and really confirming my hunger to become a Dental surgeon and the reasons why it is a perfect career path for me.

This experience was the best I have had related to education and in fact one of the most insightful experiences of my life. Now I must get the work done in order to reach this target!

Waiting times for extractions in Scotland

I recently read that over 400 children in the greater Glasgow and Clyde regions of Scotland who have chronic tooth decay may have to wait up to 6 months for treatment. This is a serious issue as Tooth decay can be highly painful as the acid produced from a build up of plaque attacks the tooth and gum area of the mouth. The 6 month period of waiting can be a factor which leads to further issues in the future such as dental caries, gum disease or a build up of pus at the end of the teeth or in the gums (dental abscesses). Also, tooth decay is cheaper and easier to treat in its early stages. Within the current society where image is considered highly important, especially amongst children,  symptoms such as brown spots appearing on the teeth could have impacts on the self confidence of the child who must wait 6 months to be treated.

The National Director of BDA Scotland, Pat Kilpatrick, said; “The impact of having rotten, septic teeth on a child’s health, wellbeing and development cannot be underestimated. Their symptoms are not confined to the mouth, as it can also affect their speech and growth, not to mention their confidence and ability to socialise wit their peers and family.”

However this issue is not simply confined to these areas with only 55% of children in deprived areas being free from tooth decay compared to 82%  in less deprived area. This highlights the importance of funding to the NHS with the BDA blaming the figures on a squeeze on hospital funding and theatre-time for paediatric dental cases.

Cardiff Open Day

I recently returned from my Duke of Edinburgh expedition which was a great experience. I feel as though overcoming the challenge has really pushed me to better myself in an attempt to achieve my entry into University. Upon my return I had little time to rest as the next morning brought an early start as I travelled to Cardiff for the recent open day. I was highly impressed with the facilities, in particular the newly refurbished £2.2 million pound clinical skills laboratory. The dental school also stood out to me as it is relatively small, with generally 100 undergraduate students per year, meaning there is a lot of opportunity for one to one learning. Another factor which I found to be ideal was the partnership with the Heath. As a whole the open day was largely productive, with me being able to arrange a day of work experience in the Heath shadowing students in their day to day studies at the Dental school. My next step is to take part in two weeks of work experience in two separate Dental clinics in Swansea. I will keep you posted, thank you.