Life of a Dental Student: 10 Things No One Told You About Studying Dentistry


"Every tooth in a man's head is more valuable than diamond."

"If God hadn't meant us to eat sugar, he wouldn't have invented dentist."

"I was never afraid of anything in the world except dentist."

When people asked for the reason why I chose dentistry as my study course, I did not know how to reply them. I choose dentistry not because I liked it, but the fact that I have no real idea what dentistry is all about. Before entering university, I have no idea what a dentist do, and what they have to go through to become a real dentist. Here is some of the things no one ever tell me about studying dentistry. 

#1. The Need to be a Part-time Medical Student

No one ever tell me that I still need to study about medical stuffs, go to hospital for my medical posting, learn medical physical examination and learn how to diagnose prostrate cancer. While the word DENTISTRY might be completely different from MEDICINE, dental student still have to somehow study a bit on medicine because we are all dealing with the human body, be it mouth or limbs, because the physiology has taught us that the whole links like a big giant network. In fact, all health sciences courses need to know about the human anatomy, physiology, pathology, and so and so but not as detail as medical students. *phew*

#2. The Human Mouth can be a Nasty Place. 

While doctors do examination on vagina, anus, debride necrotizing wounds, and probably see tons of blood, the human mouth isn't a better place either. The degree of oral hygiene differ from person to person and there seems to be no limit to how bad it can be. Bad breath, terrible calculus, decaying tooth, blood pooling in the mouth etc. This is what a dentist is all about, treating all these problems. 

#3. Wire Bending Is the Most Painful Thing On Earth (for a dental student)

While some of us accept the fact that learning how to make dentures and oral appliances are the basics to make us a better, more experienced dentist, others like me see it as a nightmare. Wire bending are essential in Orthodontics and Prosthodontist especially, and its what makes the denture or removable oral appliances stays in your mouth. But no one ever told you how freaking painful wire bending can be, have you no idea how hard to bend the wire and to bend it in the EXACT spot you want is the thing that makes you want to cry out. 


#4. Dentistry is a form of Art (and Dentist are basically Artist)

No one ever told you being good in art is an advantage in dentistry. Carving out the tooth anatomy with a rotating bur is an art, trimming your denture is an art, drawing dentures and removable dental appliances is an art... 

#5. Requirements don't come easy. 

During your practical years, you have to enter clinic and treat patients in order to complete your requirements. You probably think the school will provide all the patient you need and you are safe and sound, but sorry that's not the story. Imagine there are so many students (undergrad and post grad) needing all those patients, especially the cooperative one. Its not uncommon to end up with some fussy uncooperative patients at some point, but its a matter of luck as well. If they are unable to attend your appointment, you will have a hard time just thinking about all the requirements you have to complete in order to graduate on time. 

#6. Injecting Local Anesthesia Among Course mates

Injections are painful and important for dentist in some dental procedure like tooth extraction, so for the sake of experience, let's inject among your coursemates, how fun would that be? The good thing about this you will develop a sense of empathy for your patients in the future and the person injecting you gets the experiences. The bad thing is you end up suffering for the rest of the day with half of your face numb like hell, which makes eating and drinking a nightmare. You will probably end up with a super sore tongue too because you unknowingly bite on them.

#7: Dental Materials are super Expensive, even for practising.

When you go into dental school, you will start to understand why every dental treatment you went for worth a lot. While dentist can earn a lot due the skill, the materials are somewhat not as cheap. I was lucky I end up at a government dental school rather than a private one because some friends studying private dental school have to paid for everything even those they need for practising. (Its like doing a restoration on a dummy for the sake of practise and having to pay it)

#8. Community Service- Dental Awareness

Those dentists you often visit just sits in their chair all the time. But did you know that prevention is also part of dentistry nowaday? Basically what my school did was enter a more rural area and tried to interact with the local people there to help spread the awareness of dental hygiene. 

Me and my friends 

#9. The Head and Neck are a Dentist's Job

How naive of you to think that dentist only deals with what is inside your mouth. There is a branch in dentistry call Oral Maxillofacial Surgery that deals with everything in the head (not neurology thou), means you get to deal with a fracture jaw, some facial nerve palsy, perhaps haemorrhage below the eye and so on...

#10. Its Not All That Bad Actually!!! Its only 5 years...

While being a dental student can be tough, the key is to make it enjoyable. Learn new things, build rapport with your friends and patients, respect your nurses and lecturers, be passionate in every process and manage your time well. Take some time off to relax or join some extracurricular activities your school has to stay fit and healthy during your university life. Remember that in dentistry there are only FIVE YEARS, but as time goes by, it can never be turned back. Do make the most out of your dental life, and also the time to make denture because your patient probably need it by next week. 

That is all from me, dental folks (or future dental folks)
Signing off with love.

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