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 to better appreciate the importance of dental and oral health in people’s lives. If I had ever harboured 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 it became necessary for me to spend considerable time in the dentist’s chair. I was more interested than nervous and I positively liked the atmosphere, the kindly 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 I hope to pursue a career in which my efforts will provide sufficient rewards in financial terms but I also have a genuine and passionate ambition to become an excellent practitioner providing the very best care to patients both here and in poorer countries.
One of my most significant experiences occurred in dental school in India during my restorative 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 restorative, 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 the urban and rural poor in India. This was not only educationally valuable because of the variety of conditions that were presented and treated but it also had an emotional impact that remains. I undertook procedures such as root canals, restorations and extractions as well as providing education in prevention of dental and oral disease. These rural outreach programs taught me to practice dentistry with very limited facilities using hand instruments, this has improved my dexterity and digital sensitivity which might not otherwise have become so well developed. Once I gain my dental licensure in the U.S., it is my firm intention to provide voluntary treatment here and in third world countries.
While an intern, I had my first paper published in an international journal. The paper related to a practice called ‘oil pulling’ using coconut oil. I was able to apply my research at ‘free camps’ and in educating patients about this technique. I won an award for the best paper at a national conference. I would be very interested in pursuing research into 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 have sought to acquire as much experience of US dentistry as possible. I have worked as a dental assistant and undertaken voluntary work in that capacity with a highly experienced volunteer dentist who has given me the benefit of his substantial knowledge and skill. Working as a dental assistant has improved my four-hand dental skills. I have helped in the treatment of patients of a wide 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 useful and interesting insights and I look forward to benefiting from those acquired by fellow students. I promise highly enthusiastic, committed and diligent participation in the program if selected.