For me and many of my classmates, it was our initial interest in the arts led us to eventually pursue dentistry. Whether it was handwritten calligraphy, playing musical instruments, photography, or even graphic design, being able to use our creative processes to better serve the oral health needs of our communities was a perfect match. Although our focus has shifted from the aesthetic to the esthetic, we are still able to build and create things for others using our hands. Art led us to dentistry, but sometimes we see the reverse – when science and dentistry become a source inspiration for artists. My curiosity one day led me to a Google search for “dentistry in art,” which yielded several rather interesting results: 17th and 18th century paintings of men surrounding a grimacing patient being treated, carvings of demons and spirits in teeth, and even pairs of shoes lined by human teeth. Yikes.
Dentistry is about so much more than just teeth, and the new television series airing on Lifetime, “Smile,” proves just that. The series, which kicked off on May 28, will spotlight 12 individuals from around the country who are given the opportunity to makeover their smiles. Each participant has a different story that illustrates the ways that a smile can not only hinder how you live your life but also leave you powerless to it. As a dental student, I found “Smile” to be extremely profound. It is moving to me not only from the viewpoint of the people who are in need of the makeovers but from the dentists who will be providing them. “Smile” gives the viewer a great perspective of not only what dentistry is but also the reason why so many people choose dentistry as a profession. This series demonstrates through each individual’s story that a smile is self-defining. As dentists, we have the ability to change an individuals smile, but we are also changing that big picture: how they see themselves in the mirror. As dentists, we have the privilege to be a part of what’s behind the smile. What does your smile say about you?
A great way to add quality material to your ASDA chapter website is to interview your very own members! They can be local leaders, members who have gone on international dental trips, or just a fellow classmate with an interesting story to share about their road to dentistry. Maybe you have an amazing professor you’d love to interview. The options are endless. Here are some tips designed to help you film, edit and produce awesome interview videos.
Every day, I am inspired by the many unique journeys that are traveled and that ultimately converge at dental school. I’ve literally never met a “traditional” dental student. My classmates and I chose to share our stories with predental students in hopes that they too may recognize the inestimable value of their own distinct discourses. In a 25-part video series produced by UCLA ASDA’s Predental Outreach Committee, you’ll hear about some of these traditionally untraditional journeys to dental school. I hope they will inspire you to catch #ASDAfever and #Belieb in your journey, because after all it is the only road map you have to your destination.
Modern dentistry has changed greatly in the past three centuries, but the advancements in the profession don’t come solely from developments in technology, materials and research. The smile is now synonymous with joy and excitement, and many people are willing to go to great lengths to have the perfect smile. Yet throughout history, the smile was analogous to foolishness, irrational emotion, and deceit. It’s no surprise that words smile and smirk in the English language share the same Old Norse origin.
However, it wasn’t until the 19th and 20th century that smiling became a widespread, popular cultural phenomenon. According to historian Colin Jones, a professor of art history at Queen Mary University of London, the point of inflection regarding the public opinion of smiling came about with a controversial self-portrait of Madame Elisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun, a French artist. In her painting, Le Brun, a young mother, portrays herself smiling ever so slightly, showing the incisal edges of her maxillary incisors.
I believe there is a very important part of the mouth that is often forgotten in dentistry. We always check the teeth, the gingival and mucosa, behind the tongue, but how often does someone really look at a person’s lips?
Whether it’s soothing music, massage chairs or a warm blanket, more and more dental offices are now embracing the concept of comfort enhancement for their patients. For those who are calling out for luxury, these offices answer in a big way. In particular, one dental spa markets itself as a place where patients can walk in for a healthier looking smile in only 20 minutes. With slogans like “Dental office with a spa feel,” “No drills, no fills and no moaning here,” some offices only offer coronal scaling, polishing and whitening.