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A student’s story – what to expect from five years of Dentistry

Ali Nasser, who graduated from our BDS degree this summer, tells you what to expect from five years of Dentistry

“I have loved being a dental student for the past four years. In particular, I have enjoyed working with my hands, doing good for the local community and seeing how my motor skills are improving.

You mainly spend your first year in lecture theatres, where you’ll be introduced to the clinical scientific knowledge you need. We get to experience the clinics and are introduced to the clinical environment. However, we don’t see patients in year one.

We spend a few sessions in the phantom head labs. Here, we get the chance to pick up a dental handpiece and learn to use the dental drills by practicing on plastic blocks and polishing plastic teeth. This allows us to develop our hand-eye coordination skills and get a feel for important things, such as how to control the handpieces with foot pedals. This felt a little strange to me at first, but you quickly get used to it.

The second year is when you start to really feel like a dental student. We spent months covering an introduction to operative dentistry in the phantom head labs. These are specialist practice labs which replicate a dental surgery. We learn how to drill teeth (plastic and real extracted teeth) and to do different kinds of fillings.

We spend more time on clinics and practice on our clinical partners, taking impressions of each other’s teeth and making study casts. You learn to deliver local anaesthesia by injecting one another! This might seem scary (and it is at first) but you will have to do thousands of injections across your career.

The main teaching module is Human Health and Disease (HHD). This is a huge module covering the human body and each system, physiology, common diseases/conditions and how to treat them. It’s not an easy module, there’s loads we are expected to learn.

In the third term, the excitement really begins. We start seeing patients! You don’t do any treatments, but the patients you see will become your patients. You begin completing comprehensive dental screening examinations for your new patients and put together a treatment plan.

The next three years involve a lot more clinic time, seeing patients most days, treating adults and children. The lectures still continue but are limited to one morning a week.

We can now do all sorts of treatments including crowns, dentures, bridges, root canals, extractions, fillings, scaling teeth and minor oral surgery. The clinical teaching is fantastic, we are always supported when seeing patients by helpful, patient and experienced dentists and nurses.”

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