Dentistry is about working diligently and amicably, whilst keeping the patient’s best interest at heart. It was after receiving orthodontic treatment and being able to personally experience the power that excellent dental work can have, both aesthetically and emotionally, that fuelled my desire to become a dentist. In addition to this, becoming a dentist would allow me to explore human oral biology further and combine my intricate manual dexterity whilst also actively improve our society’s welfare.
Reading an article from The Times about the rising cleft palate abortion rates has stimulated my interest in oral maxillofacial surgery; I enrolled in a one-week placement at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary. I was amazed at how epileptic pregnant women using topiramate or valproic acid medication have an increased risk of having a baby with a cleft lip as well as other birth defects. Subsequently, I enrolled in a FutureLearn Online Course regarding paediatric dentistry to consolidate my knowledge of oral birth defects. I delved into a range of oral abnormalities such as problems affecting the oral mucosa and major oral traumas. This reiterated that dentistry is an ongoing learning process, requiring consistent reading on research to ensure best patient practice.
On a placement at Smile Orchard, I appreciated the crucial value of teamwork between dental nurses and senior dentists; the significance of communication between senior dentists was emphasised when an agitated patient who was confused about treatment for his decaying tooth came in. I learnt that comforting patients can improve adherence to recommended treatment. Patients are more likely to disclose information if they trust their dentist and the quality of interaction improves, resulting in shared decision-making. Aside from treatments, I valued the importance of oral healthcare advice given to patients from their dentist as preventative care is significant in ensuring healthy teeth. After I identified the decayed tooth in the patient’s lower first molar it fuelled me to broaden my oral scientific knowledge further. I read “Crawson’s essentials of oral pathology and oral medicine” to strengthen my understanding of common gum diseases. Intrigued by how gastroesophageal reflux disease can cause tooth loss over time to vulnerable groups such as smokers, I gave a presentation to my community about the dangers of continuing to smoke, especially around their children.
A clear line of communication between a dentist and their patient is essential to capture patient’s medical history and ensure accurate diagnosis. During my placement at Manningham Lane Dental Practice, a patient was unable to express her pain in her temporomandibular joint two days after her extraction and denture placement. I felt the situation might have been better handled using a verified translator application that doesn’t save or share data with any parties to ensure patient confidentiality.
Participating in NCS allowed me to employ teamwork skills whilst supporting a charity. As Project Manager, I evaluated team decisions critically whilst delivering my ideas, maximising my leadership skills – which I continue to do as Community Prefect at my school. I have a 3-year commitment to Henna design which requires long concentration, good manual dexterity and an eye for detail. Achieving Gold in the Senior Maths Challenge has driven my ability to deconstruct unfamiliar problems and by completing Access to Bristol, it has affirmed my desire to study dentistry in higher education.
Supporting minority groups against discrimination is an act I take pride in. I am able and willing to relate to many different people by educating others about the importance of Black History as well as speak out against discrimination of LGBT youths to school pupils. Likewise, through volunteering at an elderly care home I was able to well inform a dementia sufferer about the dangers of refusing to take prescribed medication. Through researching thoroughly and explaining why the rumours he’d heard were false and why he is encouraged to adhere to his medication, led to him eventually becoming fitter and more active. Being able to present the options and its side effects to the man highlighted the significance of autonomy – allowing a patient to make a well-informed choice.
Throughout my experiences, the ethnic mix of dentists I have met has failed to reflect the diverse community that dentistry offers. I aspire to use my academic capacity and strong community ethos to challenge this, by fulfilling the stimulating role of a dentist and giving my patients the confidence to smile. I intend on delivering exceptional healthcare for the benefit of social welfare and being involved in pioneering research that could shape the future of the dental field.