Dental students are required to collect extracted teeth throughout our four-year program. These teeth are used in classes such as operative, endodontics, and even our licensure exam for Texas – the WREB. In fact, collecting teeth is one of the first tasks assigned to us once we are accepted to dental school. Many students are able to collect several teeth, while others struggle to gather any. To make matters even more challenging, many of our assignments require the infamous “ideal” teeth that should be a variety from all over the mouth.
This past summer, a fellow classmate and myself saw a need to collect teeth on a mass scale. To have the finest selection of teeth for these assignments, the best method is to have as many teeth as possible to choose from. Most importantly, we wanted our fourth years to be able to find the highest quality teeth to be used on their licensure exams – that day is stressful enough.
We found help quickly through our school’s alumni association. Who better would understand the struggles of dental students? The current president of the association assisted us in putting together the “Alumni Tooth Collection Program”. We attended an alumni event at the school, where we were able to introduce the program, explain the need of the students, and begin to hand out jars. In addition, an e-mail was sent to all alumni to sign up for the program electronically and begin collecting teeth at their individual offices. The desire for dentists to help out was overwhelming.
I anticipate this program to grow as we continue to promote and adapt our approach to reach the dentists in our area. In the spring, and with the help of student volunteers, we will collect the jars and provide new ones for the following year. Although this will not alleviate the need to collect teeth individually, it is my hope that this program will become an additional resource to us.
Does your school require students to collect teeth? It is a challenge to find “ideal” teeth for assignments and your licensure exam? If so, consider utilizing a local dental society or your school’s alumni association to develop a tooth collection program. We are truly grateful for the support of the UTSD Alumni Association and it is a continued reminder that dentistry is centered on the principle of family.
You can read more about teeth collection and some ethical issues surrounding it at a previous Moral Monday blog by Surpreet Arora, Baylor ’15 – Buying teeth online: students look for another option.
~Andrew Naeger, Houston ’17, associate, Council on Professional Issues