Saturday, August 29, 2009

Brief Return from the Abyss

I know that I have been deep in the abyss that is dental school, but I thought I'd emerge for a little while to show everyone what I've been up to. Aside from the numerous hours of studying required, the second year of dental school requires that students spend many many hours in the Preclinical Simulation Lab, commonly known as the "Sim Lab," working on our many projects and assignments for our pre-clinical classes. The Sim Lab houses a lab station for each student with a manikin known as a "Sim Head" that we practice numerous dental procedures on. Basically, most of the procedures we will perform on real patients next year, we practice on the sim head this year.

Here is my lab. There are 8 such labs in our school so that each student has their own station. A second year student and a first year student share a lab station, but we hardly run into each other because our pre-clinical classes are at different times, and first year students only have one pre-clinical class, while we have three. Ours are also more intensive, so we spend a lot of time in the sim lab, while first years spend a lot of time in the gross anatomy lab.

My lab station that I share with a first year student. The cabinets and top drawer are mine; the bottom three drawers belong to the first year student.

Hard at work in my sim head. I am well protected from any pathogens my sim head may be carrying, as long as he doesn't have tuberculosis and I don't stick myself with a contaminated needle or a bur.

Here's my sim head just chillin. He likes to keep me company while I'm working on the bench top. I still haven't named him. Any suggestions?

Here he is again. He seems to be having some issues with his TMJ in this picture.

Bad sim head!!! He did not brush and floss well enough, and now he's edentulous (AKA has no teeth!!)!!!!! I suppose I'll make him some dentures....

Meanwhile, are there any TMD specialists reading? This guy needs some help....

Here's a picture of when I dissected out his jaws (ok, so I just pulled the magentic models out of the head to take a picture).

Here is a master cast of my edentulous patient. It may not look like it, but it was a long road to get this far in the denture making process, at least for a beginner. It is basically a reproduction of the patient's anatomy in stone. It will be used as a model of the patient in fabricating the dentures.

These are record bases for making dentures. Again, doesn't look like much, but TRUST ME, it's harder than it looks to make these things. Next week, I will begin the process of arranging teeth for the dentures using these record bases in the patient's mouth as an aid. The record base will eventually be replaced by real denture bases for the patient's daily wear.

Time to take a little break from denture making. Now I'm going to work on something for my fixed prosthodontics class. So far this year we have been working on lots of crown preps, and we've started the process of fabricating a crown for our patient.

For those who don't know, preparing a tooth for a crown ("cutting a crown prep") entails reducing the tooth to a nub of what used to be there. There are very specific measurements and qualifications to which this nub must adhere, and numerous reasons for each. Above is a picture of the tooth prepared for a crown (2nd to last top molar on your left).

In real life, the dentist would cut the crown prep, and would not have time to be bothered by such things as making the crown him or her self. However, dental school is far different from real life. I will be fabricating the crown myself. Here is a picture of the first step. I made an impression of my patient's mouth with the prepared tooth. In case you were wondering, I didn't tye-dye it to make it pretty. The yellow impression material is used on the crown prep and the biting surfaces of the teeth because it's more liquidy and picks up more detail. The green stuff is less liquidy and is used for the rest of the impression where detail is less important.

Here is the (unfinished) cast I made of my impression. Next week I will begin making the crown for the tooth using this as a model of my patient.

Now I wouldn't want my poor patient to have to eat with just a nub of a tooth while I'm making his crown. Here's a picture of the (also unfinished) provisional (temporary) crown I'm making for him.

Closeup of the provisional crown. It doesn't quite fit yet...still working on it.

In my operative dentistry course, we have been practicing making restorations for teeth with caries (AKA filling cavities). Here is a picture of me putting a clamp in for a rubber dam. A rubber dam is used so that the tooth I am working on will be isolated and I won't have to worry as much about my patient's (non-existant) tongue and (also non-existant) saliva.

Blurry picture of the rubber dam with the carious tooth restored with amalgam. In our operative class, we are given plastic teeth with blue stuff inside that represents caries. We must remove the carious lesion with a bur and restore it. Here we used amalgam, but there are many different restorative materials we will be using.

I did some more dissecting so that my amalgam restoration could be viewed more easily.

Here's what my lab station looks like after a long day's work in the lab. What a mess!

I hope you enjoyed seeing a few of the things I've been working on this year.

Light Orchid