Growing up, I was always fascinated by the intricacies of science and enjoyed learning how the human body works. When I was in ninth grade, I felt insecure and self-conscious about my smile because of my proclined teeth. After getting my braces off, I saw a considerable improvement in my self-confidence. I learned that dentistry not only enhances aesthetics but also improves functionality. This experience changed my perspective on myself, so I decided to study dentistry further and continue to spread the feeling of self-empowerment and work in healthcare. Dentistry is a great combination of science, manual dexterity, autonomy, and the ability to transform someone’s smile and self-esteem in a matter of minutes, and all of this aligned with my interests and strengths. I also loved the harmony that dentistry offers by becoming acquainted with your patients, solving their difficulties, and finally managing every aspect of their care. In my opinion, very few professions can provide such a distinctive combination of holistic care.
In 2013, I began studying at MGV’s KBH[Mahatma Gandhi Vidya Mandir's Karmaveer Bhausaheb Hiray] dental college, Nashik. During the first year, we spent a great deal of time learning human anatomy and physiology, which helped us learn how the different parts of the body and different systems work together to make us fully functional human beings. We got close exposure to anatomy by studying a cadaver. Adapting to the new field, learning the fundamentals of the human body, and being surrounded by people that share a similar passion made the first-year pass in a jiff.
The second year is when you actually begin to feel like a dental student and all the first-year anatomy you learned begins to make sense. The second year involved extensive lectures on general pharmacology, dental materials, and microbiology. In addition to that, you are introduced to the new clinical areas called preclinical prosthodontics and conservative dentistry. During the preclinical conservative skill sessions, phantom models with fake teeth and gums are used to practice cavity preparation and restoration. We were all allotted one phantom head to practice cavity preparation and restoration. It was a great way to practice vital skills such as dental mirrors for indirect vision.
The third year is a step up from the first two years, which included more lectures and less emphasis on practical skills. This year, you lay the groundwork for your practical clinical skills and anatomical knowledge and realize how important it is to have a firm foundation in the fundamentals before starting the actual work. We performed hand scaling on actual patients. Since this was our first time operating on a patient, we were naturally anxious. However, our mentors were very helpful in calming our nerves by showing us the appropriate technique to hold the instrument and position ourselves so that both the patient and you, are comfortable.
The fourth year had two semesters of all dentistry disciplines and was rather demanding. We learned how to take X-rays, studied the fundamentals of orthodontics, performed restorative and prosthodontic procedures, and finally extracted teeth. As the course progressed, I started to really like restorative and prosthetic dentistry procedures since the outcomes were so remarkable. Even though recording case histories, making impressions, and working long hours in the lab to prepare dentures was exhausting, the moment when an edentulous patient smiled after receiving their new denture was gratifying and worthwhile.
The last year was full of highs and lows, submission deadlines, and back-to-back exams, but it was also a wonderful opportunity to acquire and advance dental knowledge and hand skills. There were no exams after completing the final year, which was a huge relief, and the internship started with a bang! We conducted free dental check-up camps in rural areas, carried out routine dental procedures in a mobile dental van, and made sure to cherish every second of our internship because we knew it would be our final year together before splitting up to further our careers in various cities and nations. We held parties with the staff members after finishing each department posting, making memories that will last a lifetime.
During our internship, we received comprehensive training in dentistry, performing root canals, preparing orthodontic appliances, doing minor oral surgeries, and extracting teeth.
With the experience I had in college over the last five years, I acquired amazing exposure to the dentistry and was well-prepared to enter the real world.