Observing the queue of those waiting for free dental treatment in a volunteer dental camp in India, I became accustomed to seeing swollen faces and pain-filled eyes. This helped me better appreciate the importance of dental and oral health in people’s lives. If I had ever harbored any doubt about my chosen path, the relief on the face of the first patient I ever treated would have instantly removed it.
My interest in dentistry was prompted as a child when I needed to spend considerable time in the dentist’s chair. I was more interested than nervous and positively liked the atmosphere, the courteous staff, and the gleaming equipment. I decided then that it was something that I would like to do. My decision to pursue dentistry was not purely altruistic, naturally. Naturally, I hope to pursue a career where my efforts will provide sufficient rewards in financial terms. Still, I also have a genuine and passionate ambition to become an excellent practitioner providing the best care to patients here an in poorer countries.
One of my most significant experiences occurred in dental school in India during my treatment and endodontics posting as an intern. I assisted in a full mouth restorative case of a young female who had been unable to find a husband due to dental malformation. She underwent multiple restoratives and endodontic and surgical procedures. I witnessed a transformation in her self-confidence, and she was married within a year of treatment.
I have worked in free ‘dental camps and various facilities providing treatment to India's urban and rural poor centers. This was educationally valuable because of the variety of conditions presented and treated, but it also had an emotional impact that remains. I undertook procedures such as root canals, restorations, and extractions and provided education on preventing dental and oral disease. These rural outreach programs taught me to practice dentistry with minimal facilities using hand instruments; this has improved my skill and digital sensitivity.
While an intern, I had my first paper published in an international journal. The report related to ‘oil pulling’ using coconut oil as part of my research at ‘free camps’ in patient education. I won an award for the best paper at a national conference. I would be very interested in researching this and other such ‘first aid’ dental treatments that might be self-administered or provided by ‘para-dentists’ in remote and poor communities in the third world.
After completing my degree, I returned to the US and sought to acquire as much experience in US dentistry as possible. I have worked as a dental assistant and undertaken voluntary work with a highly experienced volunteer dentist. Working as a dental assistant has improved my four-hand dental skills. I have helped treat patients from a variety of cultures and social backgrounds and have enjoyed relating to them.
I am confident that my background, experience, and research interests will enable me to ‘add value to the program by sharing valuable and exciting insights. I look forward to benefiting from those acquired by fellow students. If selected, I promise enthusiasm; I am highly committed and active in participating in the program.