So, you want to know what it's like to be a dentistry student? Let me tell you, it's a wild ride full of toothy adventures (pun absolutely intended!).
As a final-year dentistry student, people often ask me, "What's it like looking at teeth every day?" And let me tell you, describing almost 5 years of dental school experience in one word is like trying to floss with your eyes closed – impossible.
But fret not! I'm here to debunk some wild myths about studying dentistry and give you an authentic glimpse into the real deal.
Dentistry is also about communicating with patients and helping them overcome dental anxiety. Afraid of going to the dentist? You're not alone! Even though interacting with patients is not part of ‘treating the tooth’, it is a crucial aspect of the dental appointment.
Jia Yi Ho (Natalie)
Bachelor of Dental Science (Honours)
Myth 1: "Isn't it boring to look at teeth every day?"
Boring? Not even close.
Teeth are as unique as snowflakes. Each tooth has its own shade, shape, and character. And guess what? Some teeth have curvy roots that can dance better than your favourite TikTok star (have you ever seen a dancing tooth on an x-ray?).
Plus, it’s always a pleasant surprise during a 'straightforward' root canal treatment to uncover multiple secret canals. Every tooth is an adventure!
And hey, we're not just about cleaning and filling teeth. There are many other types of procedures we do which keep things both exciting and challenging.
Myth 2: "So you only treat teeth?"
Oh no, we're more like dental detectives. We peek into your medical history and connect the dots between your overall health and those pearly whites.
Did you know diabetes and gum disease are besties? Yep, teeth are cosy with other organs too – they're like one big family reunion.
But wait, there's more! Dentistry is also about communicating with patients and helping them overcome dental anxiety. Afraid of going to the dentist? You're not alone. Even though interacting with patients is not part of 'treating the tooth', it is a crucial aspect of the dental appointment.
Myth 3: "Are you at Herston campus all the time?"
Nah, we're globe-trotting dental adventurers!
In the first 2 years, we have some courses at St Lucia campus.
From year 3 onwards, we take over Herston Oral Health Clinic, where we treat real patients in the dental clinics.
In the final year, some of us even go on placements to far away locations like Dalby, Toowoomba, or Rockhampton.
Picture this: you, your friends, and your colleagues exploring new regions of Queensland while making a genuine impact on people's lives. It's a chance to get fully immersed in the life of a practising dentist, gaining firsthand experience of the profession, all while embracing the challenges and pleasures that come with providing healthcare in regional settings.
Myth 4: "5 years is pretty long. Do you have a lot of content to study?"
Time flies faster than you think. Like other courses, we have 8 units’ worth of courses each semester, with clinical sessions integrated into at least one of them. Now, I won't sugar-coat it – the first 4 years are packed with a substantial amount of content (head and neck anatomy, anyone?). There's a little relief – we spend about half the time in clinical sessions (phew!). Though I must admit, sometimes finding that one instrument we need in our simulation lab can feel like a treasure hunt in our chaotic lockers.
Now, fast forward to our final year – no more lectures! We're all about clinics and research, with 4 whole days of clinics, honing our dental skills and providing top-notch care to our patients. And let's not forget that one research day where we dive deep into the world of dental exploration.
Myth 5: "Dental students must have good manual dexterity to begin with."
Not at all! In our very first simulation lab session, we faced a dental challenge – following specific outlines of shapes using a handpiece. It was like playing a dental version of the cookie game from Squid Game, but with a dental drill. And let me tell you, the results were not pretty.
I took solace in a tub of comfort ice cream after that session. So nope, I am not one born with excellent manual dexterity, but it is a skill that improves gradually with practice and hard work.
So, there you have it – a sneak peek into the life of studying dentistry at UQ. It's certainly been a wild, exciting, and fulfilling journey full of learning, growth, and unforgettable experiences. So, if you're considering this path, buckle up and get ready for a rewarding adventure.
About the author: Jia Yi Ho (Natalie)
Natalie is currently a final-year UQ Bachelor of Dental Science (Honours) student. She is originally from Singapore and loves visiting different parts of Australia since her studies commenced at UQ. Outside of her studies, she enjoys board games, baking, photography and volunteering.