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THE NEXTDDS Student Ambassador Blogs

The Student- Patient relationship while in dental school

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I have now been seeing m own patient in clinic for 1.5 years. We are responsible for scheduling our own patients, providing them with their oral health care, and managing payment plans for them through the school. Having been with a few patients throughout my entire time in clinic, I have bonded with my patients in a way I never would have imagined. At times, keeping the relationship professional has been challenging.  

In order to schedule my patients quickly and efficiently, we communicate via cell phone conversations and text messages. Early on, I emphasized to them that they could call or text me with questions or concerns should anything regrading their care arise. Knowing what I know now, I wish I would have established boundaries. I have had patients google me, "facebook friend" me and text me with questions not related to dentistry. These situations complicate the student-patient relationship. I have since had to have conversations with these patients about the professional relationship I need to maintain with them. I believe it would have been easier for me to have these conversations beforehand, and so from now on, when I provide my phone number to a patient, I inform them that this is for dental care scheduling and concerns only.  

Several of my patients are retired and enjoy coming to the dental school for half day appointments. I have had some older women bake cookies for me and write me Christmas cards. Although these are incredibly kind and thoughtful gestures, could they too be crossing the line of a professional student-patient relationship?  

As dental students, we are in the unique position of learning and growing with our patients, which can increase the bond. What advice do others have to offer to keep patient relationships strong, yet trustworthy and professional? 

The Things I Have Learned in Dental School

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Graduation is nearing and, like most dental students, I cannot wait to finish my requirements and get to the end of dental school. I have struggled, I have overcome obstacles, and I have learned a lot over the course of the last four years. Dental school has been a formative experience and has taught me lessons beyond how to prep a tooth and how to take an impression. I hope these lessons will continue to inform my professional life and enrich my career in the coming years.


Here are some of the most important things I’ve learned in dental school, wisdom that I wish I had had at the start of my education.


  1.   Don’t be afraid of hard work. Work hard and it will pay off. 
  2. In dental school, the hardest days are the best days. They are the days that you have struggled with a new concept or procedure. They are the days when you have learned the most. 
  3. Appreciate everything as a learning experience. Gain as much as possible when you have people around you who want to teach. 
  4. Dental school is only the beginning. You will never stop learning as a dentist. If you do, you aren’t doing it right. 

If you still have a few years in dental school, make the most of it. Take every opportunity to learn from those around you- faculty, staff, and fellow students! Don’t grumble about a rotation you don’t enjoy or a project that is taking too much time or a case that is giving you problems. Be positive and appreciate every moment. It will all be over before you know it and when it is, you’ll want to have learned as much as possible.


For those who are graduating this year, congratulations! You have worked so hard and made it so far. Be confident in your skills. You will do great out there in the world. But be humble and know that there is always more to learn. Strive to continually improve. Good luck!

Thinking of your profession after graduation

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 Life after ASDA still exist with the ADA: CPS, The Center for Professional Success, and their focus is to provide information for the recent graduate dentist. According to Wells Fargo website provides information on: Loan Repayment, Debt: Income Ratio, Overhead, ROI ( Return on Investment) 


These nippy calculations can aid your office as well. At your fingertips, you can calculate your future expenditures, and decide if new devices will be worth it and a return on your investment. 

As a new professional, you can become easily astounded with the amount business related to dentistry while balancing a large debt load. Enhance your practice management skills in an istant with Management. Thirty-two professionals and six classes later the conjugal of your business and clinical practice will change your perspective and lower your anxiety while building your assurance. 

            It is tough to think of the fact that in a few years you are responsible for your entire community after recently graduating and being under the safety net of your professors. Even though you most new graduates look to join an existing practice, most are unaware of the pros, cons and pitfalls that lie ahead. The Center for Professional Success helps alleviate this entire future pitfall; in addition, they are continually being updated with content on how to prevent back pain or conditioning your patient to flossing daily. Furthermore, they offer provide up-to-date information on insurance, business management, CE courses. I hope you consider having them in providing you with the details to become a super dentist! 

Initiating an effective internet marketing plan for dental professionals

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The first step in implementing an effective system is deciding if an internet marketing plan would benefit your (future) practice. A profession that was once heavily based on word of mouth referrals and local advertising, has now shifted into practices with billboard signs, facebook pages,  and fan sites. The industry is constantly changing, as quickly as dentistry itself. For students who are incoming to the profession, as well as experienced seasoned veteran dental professionals, an optimal internet presence is important for the success of their practice. However, making a website and creating a Facebook is not as simple as it seems. When creating a existence online, it takes a strong foundation and solid management to make it effective. Simply having a website exist does not compete with a business website that is thriving.  There are resources for dental professionals in order to create an ideal online marketing plan, and I think the topic deserves more attention.



Internet marketing, as well as general practice management is a topic that I have not received much training as a dental student. As students we often focus on our dental skills, patient management, and keeping up to par with graduation requirements. However, practice management and internet marketing is something I consider less worried about. As my time to graduate draws nearer, and the thought of having a practice or sharing a practice becomes closer to a reality I understand why being educated in interment marking matters. Many of my classmates were born in the era of social media, emails, and texts. Nonetheless, several classmates who have came to dental school later in their life did not have these experiences growing up. Similarly, dentists who have been out in the field for some years may not be aware of the value of internet marketing, or not know where to start. For the younger, newer dental professionals, creating an online presence may come easier. However, constructing professional boundaries versus personal use of social media is very different.


To begin, a foundation is pertinent.  Some practices may not have the staff to set up and maintain the companies internet advertising. There are companies who specialize in internet marketing and management, such as MySocialMedia.com who caters to dental professionals.  They set up everything for you, so that blogging, Facebooking, Tweeting and emailing is hassle free. It comes at a price that requires budgeting, but for some practices may be the wisest way to implement a system. For practices who wish to start from scratch, a formal team is required. Whether it is the dentist, assistant, or office personnel, the sites need updating and maintaining regularly. Additionally, encouraging audience engagement is a great idea, but many times prompts questions that need answering by the dental professionals.


A great resource for newcomers to the internet world would be The ADA Guide to Internet Marketing. The guide is made for those who want to start up their own program. The ADA does a fantastic job of bringing up great points. For example, creating incentives on your site can encourage more clients. Branding your logo and being consistent about your slogan, image, location, and telephone number are vital for clarity and understanding. Remember to think like a patient, and give information you think the public want to know. Some of the most effective post are those with pictures or videos, so try adding links and youtube videos! The ADA guide also focuses on the ethical responsibilities of having a site. Remember to avoid copyrighted material, graphic images, unprofessional content, and anything that may be consider a HIPPA violation. It goes into depth on more like this.


Hopefully this has opened your mind to the power of having a website, Facebook, or blog for your dental practice. Having and running a successful online presence is an art, much like dentistry that takes practice and dedication. I strongly recommend dental and future dental professionals to learn more about this topic by checking out the ADA’s Guide to Internet Marketing, or other sources on the same.


Creating a Smooth Transition into Private Practice

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 The reality of becoming a business owner is setting in, and it is terrifying and exciting all at the same time.  In just over 15 months, some of us will be leading, or co-leading, a private practice.  One of the biggest worries I am encountering is: will the current staff adjust well to a new dentist in the practice?  


It is imperative as a new dentist coming into an established practice that we treat the staff with utmost respect and appreciation. The worst scenario would be to start your career off on the wrong foot with your co-workers. Employees are any dentist’s best asset and marketing tool.  


In a recent survey, many staff members have reported feeling underappreciated by their dentist.  Great leaders recognize the value of communicating their honest appreciation by sincerely complimenting the staff in front of patients.  Patients love this, and so does your team.  Other team recognition ideas are as follows. 


Quarterly team outings planned by the different departments in the practice, spontaneous rewards are just as motivating as monetary rewards.  Bringing staff a Starbucks latte to the morning huddle, giving them a $20 bill, or ordering pizza for delivery to their home buys you a lot of motivation and positive attitude.  Having a masseuse come to your office and give staff a 15-minute shoulder and neck massage. Giving staff 5-, 10-, and 15- year loyalty gifts.  Scheduling a staff meeting for 3 hours and surprise them with a shopping trip instead.  


Staff members aren’t always looking for monetary gifts in exchange for good service; this is just an added bonus.  It is important to remember, as a leader, that staff will want many characteristics from us, just as we expect a certain behavior from them.  Be a good listener, say “please and “thank you” often, give fair salaries and benefits, have spontaneous rewards for a job well done, remember birthdays and anniversaries in the practice, praise in public and criticism in private, give honest and direct feedback in a kind way, and be a good role model.  


What are some ideas that you are contemplating already to ease the transition between the former dentist and you?  How will staff respond to the new techniques and therefore, the new procedures and skill sets they must learn by you coming in?  Making a smooth transition is imperative to the future of the practice.  How will the previous dentist help?  If you haven’t already started thinking about this, jot some ideas down and keep them in a folder to pull out again when the time comes.  It is never too early to begin brainstorming how a practice transition can go smoothly.

Is a Dental Student well prepared to practice dentistry right after graduation?

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This is a question that every fourth year dental student has in mind when he or she is finishing dental school and has to decide either to work in a private practice or to continue education in a post-graduate program.  Some of them decide to continue education in one of the 9 of dental specialties: Dental Public Health, Endodontics, Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology, Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics, Pediatric Dentistry, Periodontics or Prosthodontics. There are also other post-graduate programs that help dental students to gain more experience in general dentistry like Advanced Education in General Dentistry and General Practice Residency. Others decide to begin private practice because they don’t want to study anymore, they have a family to take care of, or there may be other personal reasons to make that decision.  The question becomes, as recently graduated health care professionals, are we well prepared to manage all kinds of situations, and do we have the skills, expertise and agility to provide treatments in a full range of dentistry?


To answer those questions, every dental student has to think about their clinical experiences in dental school and their individual exposure to every dental discipline. Also, a dental student has to be conscious to the fact that we are treating patients with many medical conditions which can be related or not to oral health. As new dental health care professionals, we have to be well prepared to manage a wide range of situations. A few examples are:


  • A patient that comes to your office with severe swelling, pain and fever from an acute apical abscess from a second lower molar. For this case is important to prescribe antibiotics and analgesic, and the removal of the irritant by canal debridement and incision of swelling.
  • A mom brings to your office her 9 year old son because he had and accident while skating and avulsed a tooth #8 and has lateral luxation of tooth #9. We want to keep the child teeth so the right treatment is to replant the avulsed tooth and reposition the luxated tooth and stabilize them using a flexible splint. Administer systemic antibiotic. If the avulsed tooth was in contact with soil check tetanus coverage of the patient and refer to a physician for tetanus booster. For more information on dental trauma and treatment options visit www.dentaltraumaguide.org .
  • A patient comes to your office the day after you perform a tooth extraction because the bleeding does not stop and patient has been in Coumadin for almost 5 years. It is important to always review the patient medical history and actualized it every time we see them. We can prevent many situations in our office just by practicing it with every patient. If the bleeding does not stop after a tooth extraction we can place Gelfoam in the socket, suture the area and place gauze in the area and tell the patient to bite it. Do not let patient leave until bleeding has stop. 
  • You are about to perform a dental extraction to an anxious patient and suddenly the patient begins to feel pressure on the chest, dizziness, nausea and short of breath. This is a situation that nobody wants to experience in his or her office. These are symptoms of angina pectoris or subsequently a myocardial infarction. The treatment options is to provide nitroglycerin sublingually 3 times every 3 minutes, oxygen 6L/min, reassurance, put the patient in a reclined position, Inderal 1mg IV and call 911.  It’s important to have your office with the right equipment and have your staff well trained for these situations.
  • A patient has a dental emergency with a fractured molar and is suffering from extreme pain and the patient wants you to take the tooth out but the patient has been taking bisphosphonate for the last 10 years. Since the patient is taking bisphosphonate it is important to avoid osteonecrosis in the patient. In this situation we want to alleviate the patient conditions without extracting the tooth. We can prescribe analgesic and antibiotics, perform an access on molar and prescribe a CTX test, which measure the rate of bone turnover. The CTX test value of 150 pg/ml or over means that there is minimal risk of osteonecrosis and we can extract the tooth.   


I know some of these situations are extreme but they can happen in our dental office. We need knowledge and judgment to know what to do in a specific situation, when to refer to a specialist or just simply do nothing at the time.


After all, it’s a personal decision to every dental student to continue education or just go to work. My message to all my colleagues is that this is the profession we chose for the rest of our lives and as part of health care professionals we are going to be studying for the rest of our lives, because science is always changing and improving. Having one more year of studying either in an AEGD or GPR program will give you the extra knowledge, skills, expertise and agility to provide a high level of comprehensive care to all patients, which is beyond the dental school experience.