Posts tagged Dentistry

I can still vividly recall that fateful day in August of 2010, when my childhood dream of becoming a dentist finally came to fruition, graduating from Islamic International Dental College, Pakistan with a Bachelor of Dental Surgery degree. Like every other dental school graduate, I had worn my white coat many a times during the course of my studies, but donning one as a professional truly filled me with a sense of mission and pride. I was truly excited to become part of a noble system that provided care for people who silently suffered in pain under the presumption that dental health is only secondary. My determination was not only patient care, but to treat them with a sense of compassion, dignity and otherwise bring change to society through education and service. First venture outside the boundaries of dental school brought me to Pakistan Institute of Medical Science (PIMS), thinking what better place to start a career than a hospital with the largest dental department in the city. I was shocked to witness the state of disarray and utter chaos, when I was first introduced to the emergency room. Often illiterate and with minimal financial resources, these patients were usually referred to other departments for lab work, without adequate directions. I could personally feel their sense of vulnerability further heightened by such insensitive however unintentional treatment, from the very individuals that had taken the hippocratic oath.

Bound by crippling poverty and illetracy, dental care for the poor enmass in Pakistan has primarily been relegated to streetside dentists. Albeit a cheaper alternative, these quacks have exacerbated the spread of hepatitis and other bloodborne infections. See the links below, which provides an overview of the services administered by these street side quacks and their impact on the health of those with limited financial means.

Youtube Video:

BBC Article:

My first week of contact, I remember attending to a middle-aged patient complaining of severe discomfort. Further examination revealed a self-cure acrylic prosthesis installed by one of these quack dentists, where the monomer had caused a hypersensitivity reaction, requiring a healing period followed up with fabrication of partial dentures. How could a person be allowed to endure such pain, only because they were unaware or lacked the means (whether financial or accessibility) for proper treatment? Anger eventually gave way to acceptance and I made it my goal to help those in need. Over the course of the next three years serving at public institutions in Pakistan, I witnessed several other incidents of this nature but instead of being demoralized, it gave me the strength and determination to continue my passion of helping those less fortunate.

Living in Pakistan, a country deeply mired in the clutches of corruption and violence has sowed in me the desire to effect major change in the way we manage healthcare for the needy. It must become a priority for all dental professionals including recent graduates, practicing professionals and industry veterans to actively organize and participate in dental awareness campaigns and advocate access to affordable healthcare and medication for the poor across all communities and nations alike.

An Introduction to the ASDA Blog

Happy Summer to us! As we enter into the beginning of another year of dental school, I wanted to take some time to thank all of Colorado’s students for taking interest in the blog. This year I have goals to expand the audience of both our writers and readers. I envision CU to be a place of camaraderie and I believe we can start with the blog.

This year, the Blog’s mission displays, “The aim of the Colorado ASDA blog is to celebrate the diversity of the students and faculty here at CU. The hope of the blog is to inspire dental minds and attitudes in an enjoyable reading format.” Not only is the blog meant to collaborate on dental topics, but it is also aiming to shine on our accomplishments and stories outside of dentistry.

I hope you can all look forward to reading the Colorado ASDA blog in the coming months. We have so many exciting changes this year and we want you to be a part of them! You can expect an email in the coming weeks on how to apply to write for Colorado ASDA.

I also want to congratulate the incoming Class of 2021! I am excited to meet you all and I am sure my ASDA colleagues can say the same.



Crowned by the Crown Council

crown It was after my first year of dental school that I was asked to participate in Crown Council. With a direct question like that, and with a title like Crown Council, I felt like I should have known exactly what Crown Council was. Yet, at that stage of my dental school career, I barely knew how to cement a crown, nevertheless know what this “Crown Council” was.


The question was posed by Dr. Guy Gross, a successful general dentist in Salina, Kansas, and a great mentor of mine. He went on to explain that Crown Council is an international association of leading dental teams dedicated to seeking out and sharing “best practices” in order to improve the quality of care in every area of dentistry. This organization supports both individual and team growth by directing practices to focus on patient services, clinical care, and practice organization. Dentists and their teams have the opportunity to participate in Crown Council through their membership, an annual conference, and an online membership network. The purpose of the Crown Council is to help dental professionals and the members of their teams build a Culture of Success in their professional and personal lives.


When speaking of Crown Council, Dr. Gross had an energy that made me want to learn more about this organization. His explanation was quite thorough, but he did forget to mention one thing—the membership is by invite only. After receiving that invitation and experiencing Crown Council’s Annual Event, I felt like I had been crowned by The Crown Council itself. It is with the generous donation of Crown Council and Dr. Guy Gross’s clinic, New Horizons Dental Care, that I have been able to attend the last two Crown Council Annual Events.


Through the two Annual Events I attended, it was clear there were a couple themes that really resonated within the conference setting. The first theme was Walk like a 10. Crown Council supports their dental teams in ways that make their individual members feel confident, like a “10”. As teams were entering into the conference ballrooms, there were Crown Council representatives greeting everyone by name. This was absolutely a first for me to see in a conference. The representatives checked in with everyone to see how they could help them grow individually and/or as a part of their team.


The second theme works hand-in-fhand with the first theme: all dental teams were there to support each other’s dental practices. In fact, there were multiple times throughout the annual event designated for dentists to work in groups to exchange ideas and answer questions on how to become better providers and team members. Being able to sit in on these mastermind conversations allowed me to envision how much each participating member’s team would grow with these new ideas.


The third theme that was evident in Crown Council was to support the surrounding community. Crown Council is the home of Smiles for Life, a charity program that provides funding to hundreds of children’s charities around the world. The campaign has raised over $36,000,000 over the past 18 years and is the largest campaign of its type in dentistry. One aspect of this charity, supported by many Crown Council dentists, is “Whiten Your Smile and Help a Child”. This program encourages dentists to offer bleaching procedures to interested patients, with 100% of proceeds go to benefit children. Another activity at last year’s Annual Event was stuffing, dressing, and labeling 700 teddy bears, all of which were donated to Primary’s Children Hospital in Salt Lake City.


So what exactly is Crown Council? I like to think of it as an organization that supports you, your team and your community. Lecturers at the annual events focus on motivation, happiness, and health. Crown Council doesn’t exactly focus on clinical skills, but rather it seeks to improve clinical work by being a better individual within the team setting. For example, one day of Annual Session had speakers talking about marketing, reducing stress, healthy eating, proper posture, finances, and making a culture of success. Additionally, their online network allows teams to watch video series, including Skill of the Week and Mentor of the Month. Following these videos allows teams to become stronger and work better together.


My membership to an organization that supports the growth of my future team and the community is something I hope to maintain for the entirety of my dental career. I encourage all students that are interested in a post-graduate support team to look into Crown Council today. I’d be delighted to help recommend you.


Thank you Crown Council and New Horizons Dental Care for an amazing opportunity!

The Mysterious Tooth Fairy

  52673217As a child, I had no illusion that Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny were real.  The tooth fairy, on the other hand, was a fantasy figure I never doubted.  The idea that someone wanted my baby teeth and would even pay for them thrilled me!  As a dental student now, I got the opportunity to be the tooth fairy on our rotation at Children’s Hospital Healthy Smiles Clinic.  It was interesting to see which kids believed in her and how much money they’d expect to receive.  The answers varied from child to child and their excitement for her visit did as well.


The tradition of rewards for baby teeth is believed to have originated in Europe during the Middle Ages.   Exfoliated baby teeth were buried, and when the child’s sixth tooth fell out, the parents would slip a gift or money from the tooth fairy.  In northern Europe, a tooth fee was paid when a child lost their first tooth. In England, children were often instructed to burn their baby teeth in order to save themselves from hardship in the Afterlife.  Finally, the Norse culture believed that children’s teeth brought good luck in battle.

The representation of the tooth fairy we know today didn’t develop until much later.   The earliest reference to the tooth fairy in modern times was in the Chicago Daily Tribune in 1908.  The Tribune suggested that many stubborn children may allow a loose tooth to be removed if they know about the tooth fairy.  In addition, mothers should visit the 5-cent counter at the local department store and leave those small gifts under their children’s pillows.  However, the idea of the Tooth Fairy herself didn’t become popular until the 1930’s.


The rewards left under a child’s pillow vary by country, their family’s economic status, and what the child’s peers receive.  The national average per tooth in 2013 was $3.70, according to a survey by Visa Inc.  Some parents tend to offer more money for larger teeth or the first and last tooth.  Dentists often tell children that the cleaner and healthier a tooth is, the bigger the reward.

Unlike Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy does not have a set appearance.  In popular culture, the Tooth Fairy takes on many different forms, from The Rock in “The Tooth Fairy” to “Rise of The Guardians.”   In addition, a 1984 study by Rosemary Wells claimed that only 74% of children believed the Tooth Fairy to be female.  Some children believed that the Tooth Fairy wasn’t a fairy at all but an animal such as a mouse or bird.  Which begs the question; what do you think the tooth fairy looks like?

The Tooth Fairy’s appearance, how much she pays, or even which teeth she prefers we might never know.  By becoming a dentist, I will be that much closer to finding out, and if you ask me, I think she looks just like me and prefers teeth with no cavities.


Networking is Not a Dirty Word

Networking PicAt some point, you might have heard the saying, “It’s not who you know, but what you know.”  This advice typically refers to networking with others in an effort to learn from professionals in your industry, exchange useful ideas, and perhaps find your dream job.  

Meeting new people is not only advantageous from a career standpoint; these new relationships may evolve into valuable, lasting friendships that enrich your life professionally and personally.  You might even lock eyes from across the room with a dashing young man (or woman) at a professional function and end up marrying them (well that happened to me, at least).


Despite the positive effects of networking, many people are apprehensive to do so.  Admittedly, the word “networking” may be a turnoff; it sparks various negative connotations of forced, awkward interactions at scheduled happy hours or meet & greets.  Instead of thinking about networking from this perspective, I suggest disposing of that notion altogether and focusing on making new lifelong relationships with people. Below are some tips to keep in mind to start forming meaningful and genuine connections with dentists, fellow students, and other professionals.


  1. Start with the right mindset


To successfully form professional relationships with people, you must be in the right mindset and have the right intentions.   Be sincere with your interactions and get to know people, listening to their stories. I have witnessed too many people networking with the blatant intention of getting a “dream job” or some other self-serving purpose.  This superficial mindset is obvious to most people and is a huge turnoff. Instead, get to know other people for the sake of getting to know them.  This alone is worth the effort of networking.  If other professional opportunities arise from knowing these new people, then that is just icing on the cake!


  1. Put yourself out there


In order to get to know people, especially in a significant way, you must break outside your comfort zone.  This means occasionally foregoing your normal routine to go to events where you might connect with new people.


Situations that might be conducive to meeting new people include organized dentistry events (e.g. CDA, MDDS, dental fraternity study clubs/networking events, etc.) or even striking up a conversation with an interesting guest speaker for a class.  Personally, I have made some great professional and personal connections at college alumni events, social gatherings, and even coffee shops.


Also, keep in mind that some of the best connections you may make are non-dentists!


  1. Keep in Touch


After meeting new people, always keep in touch.  The method of keeping in touch depends on the person, their age, and their position.  For some people, a LinkedIn request may be enough.  However, to form a significant relationship with someone, as with any relationship, both parties must work to maintain the relationship.  This includes periodic emails, phone calls, or even coffee dates.  Just like anything in life, you will get more meaning out of any situation if you put a more sincere and genuine effort into it.


Again, this goes into changing your mindset about networking—you must truly appreciate the value of forming new, meaningful relationships for professional and personal reasons.  Then, you must develop the discipline and willingness to incorporate meeting new people and keeping in consistent contact with them throughout your career.


  1. Pay it Forward


If you choose to embrace the concept of networking and putting yourself out there, never do it for selfish reasons.  The whole point of making a new connection is to develop a reciprocal, fulfilling relationship with another human being.  This is always true for any type of relationship.  With that said, always do your best to also help others along their professional and personal journey, and your efforts will surely be reciprocated in some way.


As you go through life, virtually every encounter you have is “networking”; try to keep an open mind with every encounter—you never know how it can enhance your life and how you may enhance the lives of others.



Military Dentistry: the lowdown

IMG_0696 - AFA dental visit I grew up being interested in serving my country because both of my grandfathers had done so.  My only dilemma was how I could accomplish that. While applying to dental school, I realized that I could be a dentist, serve my country, and have my schooling paid for. All of my ducks were nicely lined up and I began my journey to become a dentist. Now let’s dive deeper into my decision to serve.


My life in dental school is much easier thanks to my military commitment. The full ride scholarship is welcomed, especially during a time when dental schools are charging 4 year tuitions that equate to a full mortgage. You graduate with a foundation but no house to show for it. My fellow militia and I also receive a monthly living allowance that can be fairly generous if you live within normal means. Oh, and cross your T’s and dot your I’s at the right time and you may qualify for a large signing bonus!


I know what you are thinking, “With all of these benefits, there must be a catch, right?”. Well yes there is…kind of. A military lifestyle is not for everyone. A 4-year scholarship requires a 4 year pay pack while living in about 2-3 different locations. As an officer, it is expected that you will move about every 2 years, and you might not have much say in where you will be going next. This nomadic lifestyle can be stressful on a family, and difficult for a spouse with their own career. If you do not like taking orders, clearly, the military is not for you. Many people choose dentistry for the autonomy. Autonomy does not mix with the military for obvious reasons.


Besides financial benefits, there are many other great reasons to choose the military route. Every day you are serving individuals who are sacrificing their lives for this country. This is an intangible gratification. You can travel and have the opportunity to live almost anywhere in the world. You have 4 years to focus on improving your dental skills. Another overseen aspect is that your patients are not limited by finances and are able to receive the best possible care. This will not apply to the civilian side, but will allow dentists to hone many new skills.


Now lets do some rough math. Out-of-state tuition is roughly $75k a year, roughly $300k at the end plus about $50k in interest at an average rate of 7%. For the military, you can add on an income of $25k a year while in dental school. That is a total scholarship value of $450k. Now the field evens out because the military salary will range from $80-95k. As compared to the average new dentist making $90-130k a year minus debt payments. I did a full break down but I will spare you the minutia. After paying off some of the debt, both parties make out pretty even after 4 years post graduation.


I view my scholarship as a tool to advance my career. I know that it will be hard on my future family and moving around will be cumbersome. There will be days when I envy my civilian counterparts as I float along on a ship in the middle of the ocean. There will be plenty of hardships and unfortunate circumstances. I like to live life with an open mind. I know that this experience will help my career and my family to grow. I will gain experience working with specialists of all kinds and have unique experiences that only a military dentist can have (helicopter rides, aircraft carriers, etc.)


I was given some advice years ago, “Do not choose the military scholarship for the money. Choose to serve your country and the finances are a perk.” I think this sums things up nicely. The money looks really nice in order to avoid the student loan debt, but there are many costs of every day life as a military dentist. I like to put it this way: You have to pay someone either way, it just depends on how you want to pay it. The traditional student is paying monetary debt. The military student is paying with their time. If you want to serve your country and do dentistry, the scholarship is a good choice for you.

The Syrian Crisis and Dentistry

SyriaGetting concrete information on world affairs can often feel like trying to build a restoration out of Jello. It seems no matter where you look, news is inherently biased and trying to push one political agenda or another. Factual reporting seems to have evaporated like acrylic monomer beneath the sun. So it is with some trepidation that I set out to write about the Syrian refugee crisis. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the better part of the decade, there has been a fair amount of strife in Syria. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you write an understatement. There are at least three factions—and really more like five or six—vying for control of a country 25% smaller than Colorado. Imagine, if you will, living in a place where instead of hearing honking horns, gunfire is more the norm. A place where you must live in constant fear of bombings—both from the sky and from the ground. A place where, at any given moment, your life could end. Try to imagine what you would do in such a place.

I recently met a patient in screening. He told me his teeth hurt, which is not uncommon in that clinic. We chatted for a while about how the school works and what he could expect from his time with us. I did notice he wasn’t opening his mouth much to talk. While playing the waiting-for-faculty game, we made small talk. Food came up, and I mentioned I like middle-eastern cuisine. He told me he was from Syria, and he suggested I try the restaurant at which he works. I thought nothing of it.

Then I looked in his mouth.

His teeth—all 28 of them—were ground down to below the CEJ. His mouth looked like someone had taken a handpiece and leveled every tooth to an almost-perfect flat plane. I had to resist the urge to gasp. I asked him about his habits, trying to determine an etiology of what I was seeing. It was a short conversation.

His answer was that he ground his teeth during times of stress. Over the past couple of years, twenty-nine of his extended family members had been killed in and around Syria. Twenty. Nine. They had been killed in the civil war. They had been murdered by ISIS. They had perished trying to flee across the Mediterranean. The how doesn’t really matter.

Imagine your extended family. If I think, I can come up with about fifty names of family members with whom I have a connection. Now imagine that over half of them are dead. It’s a sobering thought.

I set out to write this article without taking a side on the refugee crisis. But every time I hear about the thousands of people fleeing Syria, my mind involuntarily returns to this patient. Never have I met someone who so starkly illustrated just how good our lives are in this country.

In the wake of the attacks in Paris, this issue has risen to the very forefront of mainstream media. Like so many issues, it has become politicized, where every person has to pick a side—red or blue. There are those who fear ISIS will sneak into our country under the guise of refugees. And there are those who feel compelled to open our borders and welcome the refugees.

I completely understand both sides of the argument. Am I afraid of ISIS entering our country? Of course I am. It’s a very real fear, the kind of fear that can turn your stomach to ice. But you all know the line: “All we have to fear is fear itself.” That fear shouldn’t make us lose our decency as human beings. If we let fear divide us, ISIS has already won.

To say it is a complicated problem would be to call the sun warm. But I always go back to this patient. How can I, in good conscience, sit in the relative safety of my home, and at the same time deny this man a chance to reunite with the remaining members of his family? No matter how many arguments I read, I can’t bring myself to do it. I don’t know the right answer. As H.L. Menkin once said, “For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”

What I do know is that, this week especially, I’m thankful for the country in which I live. I’m thankful for the men and women who fight to defend the freedoms I often take for granted. And I’m thankful that—in the not-too-distant future—my chosen profession will allow me to help patients like this, taking away some part of their pain, however small a part it may be.


I would welcome conversation and debate, as long as it is kept civil. At the end of the day, we’re all on the same team.

Curriculum Vitae: Your Course of Life

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As some of you know, I’m one of the older guys here. I have a long history of applying for school positions and jobs. When I attended the ASDA NLC in Chicago, I thought it was important to brush up on my CV writing skills, especially since the CV format may be different than in my native country of Germany. Colleen Greene’s CV writing lecture taught me a few new things. Although there is no exact way to write one, Dr. Greene gave some useful tips and tricks to mastering the CV.

Think about the situation: You apply for a residency, and you know your application will be one of hundreds of others - that your paperwork is in a huge pile of other applications. How will you be the ONE that stands out? Do you think your great GPA alone will get you there? It might, but what happens when your CV looks like a lame pizza flyer… one that you transfer directly out of your mailbox into the trash can without reading?

A good CV should have a structure with clear categories. Why not give the category names a different color? This will give your CV a nice touch, and it will look more interesting than other applications.

The CV begins with your name and address in the header. Include your email address, but be careful. Don’t use your “supertoothdoc” or “cutemolarmouse” Gmail address that you created as a student. You need a “professional” email! If you don’t already have one, create one.

Next, list your EDUCATION clearly. Include the name and location of each school, the dates attended, what you studied, and your grade point average. Leave some space between the information to make things more readable.

The second block should be about your RESEARCH/EXPERIENCE. Tailor this section to the program for which you are applying (residency, associateship, GPR, etc.). List your projects, presentations, and teaching experiences here. Did you receive any awards in your school life? This is the perfect place to write them down.

Do you have any LEADERSHIP or COMMUNITY SERVICE? This information should come next on your CV. Use concrete details about your leadership, specifically your responsibilities...this will make your achievements stand out. If you helped coordinate a service event, include the details.

If you have any existing PUBLICATIONS & PRESENTATIONS, put them in a separate section by journal, title, and year. If you’re submitting your CV electronically consider including links in your publication list, and only write down the important ones. A lengthy list looks like a scrapbook and will expand your CV unnecessarily.

Next, place PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS, such as memberships of ASDA, ADA, etc.  To what extent were you involved with these organizations?

OPTIONAL SECTIONS can be placed now. These may include things like military service, conferences/meetings you have attended, and personal interests. Here is your chance to discuss your hobbies like home brewing, outdoor activities, or painting. Remember that you want your CV to be clean and concise. Introduce these activities in the CV, but expand on them in your interview.   Don’t forget other SKILLS like speaking, reading, or writing fluently in another language. Be honest, and never overstate your abilities. You never know when your interviewer speaks the same language fluently and may test your skills!

Finally, you may give a PERSONAL STATEMENT. I would personally skip this part in a CV and put it on a separate page, but some people like to include it in the CV. This should be a short statement that clearly states your career or school goals. Use action verbs and power words. Make this an interesting reflection of yourself. You want the reader to recognize that you stand out among the other candidates.

If you use some of these little hints in your next CV, you may be the ONE in the huge pile of applications! Most importantly, treat your CV with great care. You have accomplished many things in your life, so shine! Also, please proofread carefully for misspelled words and incorrect grammar.

You can find more information on, or simply send me an email. I am more than happy to help you with additional resources on how to write an effective CV.

~Michael Nery Schulte, ISP 2015, Colorado ASDA ISP Representative