DS1 Highlight Reel

Kissing the ground rn as I celebrate the completion of my first year of dental school – DS1 gave me plenty of things to be ecstatic about: for one, I passed Part I of the NBDE, but equally as many breakdowns and nights of mental anguish over anatomy.

Update: One of my classmates that is clearly more numbers focused than me just posted that over the course of three semesters, we have taken 64 exams and 93 quizzes!

Also – do you know what planet (Tatooine?) is in the featured image is?! It’s our campuses beloved meatball/peach pit/clay bowling ball, which sits outside of one of the dental school’s entrances. On the other side of the campus, near the research buildings, sits a wire version of the meatball, supposedly to represent the lives of the caged albino lab rats that are lost in the name of science. In all, supposedly the meatball symbolizes the young student when they first arrive, and through careful molding, trials, and challenges, one becomes shiny and polished like the wire cage ball on the other side. But idk it could work backwards as well – shiny and new to dull and hardened but that’s a lesson in optimism vs. pessimism for you.

Below are some of my favorite moments from 2016-17:
Image-1.jpgDay 1 of orientation – everyone looks so happy and optimistic about the future!

Buying Loupes

ASDA held our loupes fair in September, which was frankly a little later than a lot of my fellow classmates and I wanted – weird, I know, since we wouldn’t even be using them until spring semester 2017. (I know for the incoming DS class of 2021, the loupes fair will be held during orientation week, which I think is a lot better.)

Truth is, a lot of us went with one particular company (I won’t say on here since the company went well out of their way to right their wrongs, to me, at least) that ended up being extremely backordered. The vast majority of us placed orders at the beginning of October and were promised our loupes by Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, it. went. down. First, the company sent me a pair of loupes without the extra ($$$) upgraded prisms I had requested. Second, the subsequent pair of loupes with the upgraded microscopes were cracked around the edges. I didn’t have my real loupes until the end of December and I was one of the earlier recipients of my new overpriced microscope glasses from this particular company. To boot, many of my classmates received faulty loupes come January, when we were actually starting work in SIM clinic, so they were SOL and used loaners. I post do a loupes review or some sort of blog about purchasing them (aka dropping dat ca$h money) in the next week or so. Above all, I’m super happy with mine – they’re pink, which is always the perfect choice for trying to be taken seriously in professional school. But seriously, mine have a fantastic angle of declination and I see very clearly. After wearing loupes for three hours straight in SIM lab my ears start to hurt since they cannot support the weight of the loupes plus the constant pull of the mask loops, but I’m getting used to it.
Image-1-1.png Powder tries out my initial* pair of loupes on for size. Isn’t amused.
*I ended up exchanging this frame for another pair later on after I decided it didn’t work for my (nonexistent) nose bridge. I whited out the name of the company so keep guessing where I ended up buying them from.

Wax Lab/Dental Anatomy

Wowow I though wax lab/dental anatomy was so fun! I don’t know how your school teaches dental anatomy (I hear some schools are moving toward 2D tooth sketches, which I would be horrendous at), but at least at CU, you get your first dentoform plus a ton of tooth pegs (uniform preps) during Dental Anatomy lab, a first semester DS1 class. I  found wax lab to be the highlight of my week every Thursday; donning my brand new navy blue scrubs, I’d walk in and grip that PKT in my tiny fist and attempt to use the additive technique to make my own interpretation of a second maxillary molar (I LOVE oblique ridges). See some examples below – by no means was I the best waxer in my class, but I had such a good time experimenting and playing around. Perhaps I’ll post separately about waxing specifically, but at least in my experience, so many upperclassmen will offer you their advice and notes on what might work best for them. I’m not discounting anything that these well-meaning students are trying to offer, but waxing (like drilling), is a skill unique to each person and their hands. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. E.g. an upperclassman tried to teach me the “dipping” technique to build up a mound of wax on my plastic tooth preparation and I never got the hang of it. Every time, the technique would yield me greater frustration and at one point, a nasty wax burn. I ended up modifying the advice awarded to me by making up my own, individual methods. You will too.
A rather mediocre mandibular second premolar wax up. I got a lot better after this one.

What a nice looking second maxillary molar! I started getting pretty quick at wax ups toward the end of the class – this one took me 45 minutes with secondary anatomy included. I even got that elusive tripod upon testing occlusion in my articulator!

ADA 2016 in the Mile High City

Exciting! The American Dental Association held their annual meeting in our home city of Denver! For some, more established dentists, means an opportunity for fulfilling continuing education (CE) credits, but for the DS1 like me, means FREE STUFF. I wish I had saved a photo of all my loot from the three days I went to the meeting (and even snuck my brother in one of the days) but I seriously collected well over 50 toothbrushes, 20-something (full size!) tubes of toothpaste, and lanyards, tote bags, GALORE. No one uses that much dental stuff all by their lonesome and I suspected we’d amass far more free samples later on in our dental student and practicing doctor careers, so I ended up donating the vast majority of it to a women’s shelter near my apartment. What I didn’t donate was given to my friends, making David, Katie, and Jake rather happy to receive new oral hygiene swagswagswag. I also purchased several (the picture below doesn’t even show all of them) Sonicare toothbrushes at an insane discount and resold them at my cost to buddies – everyone gets one!

The free swag wasn’t even the best part about the ADA meeting – MALALA YOUSAFZAI was the keynote speaker. What her relative context is in the field of dental medicine may be unknown, but being in her presence was exhilarating. It’s women like her that remind me that there are far greater, bigger events in this world that matter more than dental school. Her keynote address, in spite of it having nothing to do with dentistry (besides an ADA donation to establish an oral health clinic in her home village), was inspiring and reimagined the way I looked at my anatomy stress (which was the block class I was in at the time of the meeting).
IMG_0816.PNGI just want to be like Oprah.

My classmate Dillon and I were actually rather close to the front. We snuck into the VIP seating section. #doitformalala


Anatomy is featured in black on our color-coded student calendars and everyone always joked that it meant that it alluded to anatomy being the black hole in our lives from October-December of DS1. Definitely the hardest I’ve ever had to work in a class, in dental school or undergrad. 


Operative lab! Yasss! What we signed up for! In the summer semester, we also started Indirect Single Tooth Restoration, ISTR, so crown preps. More on that later.


I took my NBDE part I on July 1st. Exiting the test, I felt AWFUL. It’s an indescribable feeling – knowing only one out of every third question presented on the screen and walking out feeling sick to your stomach, thinking failure is imminent. It seems like my experience is pretty reflective of most other students’ NBDE part I experience – it’s a tough test that not even another two years of didactic class can teach to, but magically, the pass rate is very, very high for CU. Higher than the national average’s, actually.

In the weeks or so after the exam, I was constantly on edge, worried my result would come out and I’d see FAIL in block letters in my profile, but around 12 days after the exam (not even business days, I’m talking regular days!), I logged into my account to find a pretty PASS written next to my name. It was easily the high of DS1 and the perfect cherry on top of finishing finals. I’ll be writing more later on my actually studying for the NBDE and experience. FullSizeRender-6.jpg

~ Colleen

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Featured image courtesy of the CU Denver and Anschutz Health Sciences Library’s Art Walk collection.