My First Month of Dental School

4 minute read
Wax-up of Tooth #8

So, in case you were wondering, dental school is a lot of work. Midwestern dental takes the NBDE Part One after our first academic year. Consequently, we are flying through the basic sciences at a breakneck pace.


Despite the heavy science load, we still spend plenty of time in the simulation clinic. In fact, our very first day of class was spent playing around with wax. During the second week we waxed up a #8 veneer. Learning to manipulate hot wax with instruments takes some getting used to. After a few hours of trial and error I finally managed to produce my first wax tooth.

Wax-up of Tooth #8

Tooth #8 Wax Veneer

The idea behind waxing is to learn dental anatomy and to practice hand skills with basic instruments. I know that waxing is not every dental student’s favorite activity, but I think it’s kind of fun. Also, a couple of students in the clinic still like to create wax-ups to show their patients what their restorations will look like in their mouth.


One week after waxing my first tooth I took my first impression. It took me a couple of tries to get a decent alginate negative impression, but I managed eventually. Pouring the stone for the impression requires a bit of finesse. I finally captured the anatomy with only a few bubbles and defects.

My First Impression
My First Impression!


Last week was our third week of simulation clinic. We got to do our very first endodontic access on #24! It was a lot of fun using the handpiece for the first time. I am glad that we get started so early with developing our hand skills.

There is a lot more to making holes in teeth than anyone would expect on first glance. The shape, the angles, the tooth anatomy, all are critical to planning a good pulp chamber access.

Handpieces and loupes
Gearing up
Endodontic Access #24
Endo access #24
Endodontic Access with File
Endo access with file

New loupes!

This was an especially exciting time for our class because we finally received our loupes. The school gave students in past years 2.5x magnification. This year however, Midwestern decided to spring for the 3.5x loupes instead.

Our field of vision is reduced slightly, but we have better magnification which should theoretically help to promote better posture. We also have the option to pay $650 for expanded field eye pieces if we want to.

New Loupes
Designs for Vision loupes – 3.5x

Practical exams

Last week we had our first practical examination. They gave us three hours to create a complete veneer wax-up of tooth #8 (right top front tooth again). We also completed a wax-up of tooth #24. That proved to be a bit more challenging than the veneer for #8 had been.

Facial View of #24 Wax-up
Facial view of #24 wax-up
Tooth #24 Wax-up
Distal view of #24 wax-up

Canines are tough…

This week we are working on tooth #11. This tooth has proven to be significantly more difficult than either #8 or #24 had been. There are so many more things to account for with canines.

The limitation of excursive movements (side-to-side jaw motion) is one of the most important functions of the canine. Because the canine’s job is to protect the other teeth from excursive movements, it is very important that any contact between the mandibular teeth and the maxillary teeth first happens between the canines.

It sounds easy, but when you are sculpting in three dimensions and also considering a three-dimensional range of motion it becomes much more complex.

Wax-ups of #11 and #24
Wax-ups of #11 and #24

Basic sciences still suck up a lot of time

Besides our simulation clinic work, we are also inundated with basic sciences as I mentioned earlier in this post. In addition to the basic sciences and simulation clinic we also take a preventive dentistry course, healthcare ethics, personal finance, integrated healthcare, and oral health sciences. I will probably talk more about our other coursework in another entry because I have studying to do before tomorrow morning’s quiz!

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