My patient was escorted to our urgent care clinic wearing an ankle monitor. Her chief complaint was that she felt pain around every tooth. When I took a closer look, the source of her pain became apparent. She had a mouth full of non-functional root tips. Almost every root tip showed signs of infection. My patient was from a local drug rehabilitation center, and she was 10 months sober from a heroin addiction. As a result, she wasn’t allowed any prescription narcotics or nitrous oxide, as instructed by her program due to fear of relapse.
“I think I’m just going to tie my tooth to a string and slam the door,” said one of my first patients, a kind and hilarious 83-year-old woman. We got an oral surgery consultation that cleared her extraction after considering her multiple comorbidities, and it was then I realized the unique challenges geriatric patients face in obtaining dental care.
Dozens of dental students served at the sixth annual Mission of Mercy in Reading, Pennsylvania (MOM-n-PA). The Santander Arena, normally full of screaming sports fans or concert goers, was transformed into a free dental clinic for those in need. There were 1,900 patients seen May 18-19.
It is estimated that by 2030, 20 percent of the total U.S. population will be 65 years or older. About five percent of the aging population is edentulous, and this number is expected to dwindle as more older adults are retaining their natural teeth. This group may be placed into one of three broad categories: (1) functionally independent older adults; (2) frail older adults; (3) functionally dependent older adults, according to an article in the Journal of the American Dental Association.
During spring break 2018, I traveled to Quito, Ecuador with my classmates and local dentists. I had never gone on a mission trip before, so I tried to approach everything with an open mind and enthusiasm. It was one of the best decisions of my life, and I can’t wait to go back next year. Since dental schools are increasing the availability of international service trips, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Occasionally, dental school can get you down, make you frown, make you want to pack up and leave town. But if you’re looking to turn that frown upside down, you don’t have to look much further than our incredible ASDA chapters across the country. All of these videos have one thing in common: having fun!
For dental students, science has never been subjective. We sit through semesters of organic chemistry and anatomy in college, spending long nights trying to understand the path to the right answer (because there’s always a right answer) to the complex problems our professors throw at us. We are well-tuned machines of memorization and comprehension.