Training Dentists

Have you ever wondered how and where your dentist learned to do all those procedures?
I’ll share some of my experiences.

 That First Patient

There will always be that “first” patient to receive a local anesthetic. That is usually another dental student who pairs up to share this experience. There are several kinds of injections in the mouth and we do most of them to each other.

For doing fillings we first practice on a tooth-like material rather extensively, then practice on extracted teeth which gives a much more accurate feel. Root canals done on many extracted teeth give experience on the differences that a dentist can experience from one tooth to the next although there are many similarities. Finally there are patients who need dental work and are willing to be the patient. Typically patients pay a reduced fee at a dental school.

Clinical Practice

For more surgical type work, students who are trained from visual materials can then see patients, usually with much guidance from a practicing dentist, in the school clinic or at a teaching hospital such as Grady.
Learning to do periodontal surgery is interesting. It turns out that the tissues of a pig are similar to that of a human, so any kind of surgery or laser use can be practiced on a pig jaw. This is, of course, very helpful to get the feel of the procedure.
So, for every dentist, there has to be a first patient for each procedure. It takes much longer and the work is scrutinized each step of the way. I want to thank all of the patients who have volunteered to be patients for dental students.