Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tales from the clinic floor

Today was rough. Next time you have a dental appointment and maybe you're not really looking forward to it, just think to yourself, "at least it's not an 8-hour appointment."

That's right, today's patient drives from far away so to keep his trips back and forth to a minimum (insert token gas-prices complaint here) we decided it would be a good idea to book him for my morning and afternoon sessions. I prepped three teeth for crowns and tried (and failed) to have that be my bridge competency required for graduation. When attempting a competency, I do all the steps without help and then have two faculty members grade my work. Things kept going wrong and I seriously think I made about 20 temporary crowns before I had three that worked and I was happy with. Ugh.

Anyway, since I'm on the topic of dentistry, here's three amusing stories that happened to me lately:


A couple weeks back I was getting ready to place a space-maintainer in the mouth of a really curious seven-year-old. He had been asking questions all along and I was happy to answer them, but he really threw me for a loop when he asked why I was going to put sidewalk in his mouth. Sidewalk? I was so confused - then I remembered that I had told him the next step was to "cement" the space maintainer onto his molar. It's funny how kids think sometimes.


Recently we had mock-board exams and were required to find a patient had a specific type of cavity - a class II lesion if you were wondering. The week before the exam I was doing a pediatric rotation and came across a 13-year old with the perfect class II lesion. I convinced her and her mom to help me out but was a little concerned about whether the patient's attention span could last the whole 4-hour exam, so I told her I'd bring my video Ipod and she could watch stuff while I worked.
When exam time came I had her take a seat while I finished setting up and she started watching the Andy Milonakis Show and some stand-up comedy. The resulting scene was pretty funny - to appreciate it you have to picture the tense exam atmosphere with 100 dental chairs and hardly anybody talking. Except for a few dental drills whistling in the distance, everything is silent. Then you have this loud teenage girly giggling happening like clockwork every 20 seconds coming from cubicle 74. Soon people started turning their heads trying to figure out what was going on. All I could do was shrug my shoulders and say, "Hey, I'm that good."

What's that smell?
Working on a crown competency last week, I determined that I needed to do a minor electro-surgery on the patient's gums. To do this, there's a machine you plug in and have the patient hold a metal plate, and when the end of the handpiece makes contact with the tissue it completes the circuit and basically fries the tissue. (Keep in mind the patient is numb so it's really not that bad). After doing this for a minute I explained to the patient (who grew up in El Salvador) that I was using the high volume suction so that it didn't stink. Having already caught a whiff of his own crispy gums, he smiled and told me he thought it smelled like carne asada. I told him it sort of was.

Sorry this post was all words and no pictures! I never read posts like that. Here's a totally awesome picture to try to get you to read:

(click for the bigger, more awesome version)

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