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!