NYU Dental Student, Jessica Li, Sits Down with THE NEXTDDS

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Wed, Jan 04, 2017 @ 12:15 PM

Jessica_Li.jpgJessica Li is in the midst of her fourth year as a dental student at New York University College of Dentistry. Her latest blog, Painless Dental Appointments, covers a topic that is relevant to dental students and patients alike. Jessica recently spoke to THE NEXTDDS about her educational experiences at the nation’s largest dental school and how digital is shaping her future in the profession.

THE NEXTDDS: Dental school brings us all together into one intersection, yet we take different roads to this destination. What made you want to become a dentist?

JL: I actually didn’t consider going into dentistry until junior year of undergrad. But I haven’t had any regrets since deciding to pursue dental school. There are so many reasons dentistry works for me – it’s a people-facing career, you can educate patients and set them on a path to great oral health, and you get to be your own boss and business owner.

THE NEXTDDS: Is it generational?

JL: No, I’m the first dentist in the family. It’s nice to be the only person in the field because everyone asks you about their dental and oral concerns!

THE NEXTDDS: Having finished your third year, we’re interested in your patient experiences. Tell us about your first patient.

JL: The first patient I ever treated was a friend who needed her wisdom teeth removed. Completing the comprehensive exam and referring her case to oral surgery wasn’t so daunting. But compare that to the first time I ever gave a patient an inferior alveolar block for a restoration! That was nerve wrecking! It’s true what they say about experience – once you have enough of it, everything becomes easier and more streamlined.

THE NEXTDDS: That’s why it’s the ‘practice’ of dentistry, right? What aspect of dental school is the most challenging?

JL: Finding a new method of studying was the biggest struggle for me. I was always an independent studier and did not rely on study groups to understand and retain information. After my first year of dental school, however, I realized seeking help from peers and studying with classmates was one of the best ways to solidify the massive loads of information we are taught in dental school.

THE NEXTDDS: What roles do social media and educational sites such as THE NEXTDDS play in your dental education? How frequently do you access them for school-related activities?

JL: Whenever I feel like I lack resources on topics – such as implant placement, complex case management, how to start up and finance a business, I look to THE NEXTDDS for resources that could answer my questions. There are certain things that are not taught in our curriculum and it’s great to know there is an online platform such as the NEXTDDS that can help answer the questions I have.

THE NEXTDDS: That’s great. We have great contributors who help us every day—just like you do as Student Ambassadors.  What do you envision your next five years of dentistry to look like?

JL: I am very interested in pursing a residency in periodontics following graduation. I can at least see another 3 years of schooling in my near future.

Jessica-with-Erin-Guiliana.jpgTHE NEXTDDS: Fantastic! What clinical topics do you find most intriguing? Periodontology seems like a given.

JL: I am very interested in comprehensive care and how to integrate multiple disciplines of dentistry into one comprehensive treatment plan. For example, I currently have a patient who needs extractions, implants, bridge work, and possibly, a sinus lift. It’s fun to figure out a dentally sound and financially acceptable treatment plan for my patients and understand how to stage the treatment so that my patient receives treatment in a timely and efficient manner.

THE NEXTDDS: What clinical topics would be most beneficial to show in an animated or interactive format?

JL: I think videos on endodontic procedures, implant placement, sinus lifts, basically anything that is beneath the gums and invisible to the patient would greatly help us educate patients when discussing their treatments. Dental students and dentists often talk in jargon and it’s important that we rely our thoughts in a manner that is easily understood by patients. Often, imagery and videos are very powerful tools to aid patient education.

THE NEXTDDS: How has your experience as a Student Ambassador for THE NEXTDDS helped you network with your peers?

JL: My experience as THE NEXTDDS Student Ambassador has opened doors to meeting peers in different schools, networking with professionals, and getting opportunities to represent NYUCD in different settings. The bond I’ve developed with other students through THE NEXTDDS is unrivaled. 

THE NEXTDDS: That’s great—we love to hear that. Chief concerns about being a dental student?

JL: As a third-year dental student, I was primary concerned with my future steps: getting into residency and understanding the business models behind opening one’s own practice.

THE NEXTDDS: What do you enjoy most about being a dental student, or dental school in general?

JL: I love patient care and being able to take care of my patient’s oral concerns. It also brings me great joy to develop relationships with my patients that go beyond the dental clinic – for example, I dance on the side and my patients have even come to my performances to support my non-academic endeavors.

THE NEXTDDS: Thanks for your time today. We really enjoy working with you and appreciate your leadership as a Student Ambassador at New York University School of Dentisty and we look forward to our ongoing collaboration for the spring semester!

Want to be a Student Ambassador at your dental school? Submit your Application!

Tags: Student Ambassadors

Identifying Children at High Risk for Dental Caries

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Wed, Dec 28, 2016 @ 11:45 AM

dentist-examining-childs-teeth.jpgDental caries is largely preventable, but it remains one of the most common diseases of childhood—five times as common as asthma, and seven times as common as hay fever, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC states that 42% of children ages 2 to 11 have had cavities in primary teeth, and 21% of those ages 6 to 11 have had cavities in permanent teeth.1 Children will develop caries disease at different benchmarks of their early lives, with some adolescents being at a higher risk than others due to some very specific circumstances.

A recent THE NEXTDDS presentation on early childhood caries by Dr. Greg Psaltis, a pediatric dentist with over 30 years of experience, discusses the types of children who are at high risk for dental caries and stresses the role of the clinician in performing a comprehensive risk assessment as part of an effective oral hygiene regimen. Students need to learn why certain children may experience dental caries over others and understand the importance of a comprehensive risk assessment.

Here are the types of children at a high risk for dental caries and some of the key takeaways from the Psaltis presentation:

Socioeconomic, Premature Birth Rate, and Special Needs

A child’s risk of caries disease comes at the expense of how he or she is born, raised, and how he or she develops. Statistically, lower socioeconomic upbringings lead to a higher risk at dental caries as opposed to high socioeconomic standards.2 Children with premature birth rates, as well as special needs or disabilities, are also at a high risk.3 Since these children have less access to care and need to have more involved procedures (that become costly) due to their poor health, these roadblocks are correlated with a higher risk of dental caries.

Transfers from Healthcare Providers and/or Parents

In studying children at higher risk of caries disease, one interesting aspect is a factor that can be beyond their control. Typically, when a child is just learning how to adjust from being breastfeed to bottle-fed, or is having trouble eating, a healthcare provider or parent will demonstrate the motion of eating or drinking by putting the bottle or spoon into their mouths before giving it to the child. When this occurs, the bacteria from the healthcare provider or parent transfers over to the child, causing a high risk of caries.4


Children who eat sweet or starchy snacks are also at a higher risk, especially when they consume these treats more than three times daily.5 The frequency at which the child consumes the snacks is a bigger factor than the actual foods themselves. Eating these types of foods in pieces rather than the entire snack actually does more harm, as the continuous chewing raises the risk.6 Parents and guardians should be made aware of the fact that they need to dictate the child’s low-carb, less sugary diet, rather than the child dictate his or her own diet, which can be especially hard if the child is a picky eater. Fruits should be implemented over fruit roll ups!

With so many responsibilities involved in raising a child, it can be easy for parents to overlook the very serious threat posed by caries disease. Especially when it comes to something as simple as a shared spoon, or as long-term as an adjustment to the child’s diet, practitioners need to emphasize how much these important factors come into play with the risk of their child. With a comprehensive risk assessment, dentists can allow parents to keep their children healthy. Moving further into the CAMBRA Approach, identifying these patients who are at a high risk, then modifying their risk through various factors including diet and improving their overall health care routine will ensure safety.

  Join 14,000+ Students! Enroll in THE NEXTDDS now


[1] Healy M. Young kids' tooth decay hits 'epidemic' proportions. USA Today. Published March 3, 2014. Accessed November 28, 2016.

[2] Popoola BO, Denloye OO, Iyun OI. Influence of parental socioeconomic status on caries prevalence among children seen at the university college hospital, ibadan. Ann Ib Postgrad Med 2013;11(2):81-86.

[3] Norwood Jr. KW, Slayton RL. Oral health care for children With developmental disabilities. American Academy of Pediatrics. Published March 2013. Accessed November 29, 2016.

[4] Ramos-Gomez FJ, Crystal YO, Ng MW, et al. Pediatric dental care: Prevention and management protocols based on caries risk assessment.  J Calif Dent Assoc 2010; 38(10):746–761.

[5] Block SL. Put some ‘teeth’ into your pediatric preventive counseling. Published September 2012. Accessed November 29, 2016.

[6] Psaltis G. Types of children at high risk for dental caries. September 2016. Accessed November 30, 2016.

Tags: Early Childhood Caries, caries, dental caries, caries management

The Challenges of Early Childhood Caries

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Wed, Dec 21, 2016 @ 12:02 PM

ecc-1.jpgEarly Childhood Caries (ECC) is defined as the presence of one or more decayed (non-cavitated or cavitated lesions), missing (due to caries) or filled tooth surfaces in any primary tooth in a preschool-age child. The ADA recognizes that Early Childhood Caries is a significant public health problem in selected populations and is also found throughout the general population.1 Because they are inhibited by age and need to be cared for by their parents, infants and toddlers can sometimes lack proper dental care at a critical time in their lives. Other factors that force adults to miss appointments (e.g., cost, lack of insurance) can also play a part in a child’s lack of proper oral hygiene. However, there are even still more reasons why ECC has become an important healthcare issue.


Early Childhood Caries is unique because the patient's maxillary incisors are at greatest risk for decay, while mandibular incisors are often unaffected due to the child’s tongue suckling protecting them. In addition to a bottle habit or extensive and prolonged breastfeeding, these conditions also can also be known as nursing caries. At any rate, nursing toddlers must have their teeth brushed with toothpaste and receive proper oral hygiene even prior to the eruption of the first tooth, and recommendations for a proper diet should be provided at the first dental visit.2


As aforementioned, infants and young children are not capable of taking care of their teeth on their own and require parental supervision. To parents, dentists must emphasize the importance of maintaining their infant’s teeth, both to desensitize the oral cavity now, and to prepare them for future treatment. Over time, young children will be responsive to the method.

A good instructional technique involves seating the parent with the child standing between their legs and reclining his or her head backward onto their lap. The parent should embrace the child’s head in a stable position with one hand and proceed to brush the child’s teeth using a soft toothbrush with double-rounded bristles with the other. A gentle, tiny dab of fluoridated toothpaste should be used to clean the gums and teeth.


ecc-2.jpgFluoride should be introduced to the ECC patient in order to delay or prevent the progression of carious lesions,3 as children less than three should not be treated with sedation or other invasive treatment. Topical fluoride varnishes in a resin or synthetic base should be applied to the patient's tooth surfaces in order to prevent the process of cavity formation. This varnish-based application can help minimize the risk of inadvertent fluoride consumption.

Although the primary side effect of fluoride varnishes has been the temporary yellow-brown tooth discoloration apparent when adhering, this effect has been eliminated in new tooth-colored varnishes.4 Varnish application should be repeated at six months, or three-month intervals for high-risk children.

Establishing a proper oral hygiene regimen5 as early as possible for infants and young children will both work to decrease the potential of severe ECC and all the complications that lie with it, as well as allow the infants to become accustomed to their routine care and eventual dental visits. Assessing and managing the risk involved with dental caries is a key aspect of being a dentist, and despite the challenges that many children and infants face in lieu of healthy oral care, treatment is essential for maintaining overall wellness.

  Find more helpful information by enrolling in THE NEXTDDS


[1] Statement on Early Childhood Caries. American Dental Association. Accessed December 7, 2016.

[2] Nunn ME, Braunstein NS, Kaye EAK, Dietrich T, Garcia RI, Henshaw MM. Healthy Eating Index Is a Predictor of Early Childhood Caries. Journal of Dental Research. Published April 2009. Accessed December 7, 2016.

[3] Larsen CD, Daronch M, Moursi AM. Caries Prevention for Kids. Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. Published February 2013. Accessed December 5, 2016.

[4] Kupietzky A. Early Childhood Caries. THE NEXTDDS. Published December 13, 2010. Accessed December 5, 2016.

[5] Margolis F. Tricks or Treatments: Techniques for Managing Adolescent Patients. THE NEXTDDS. Published August 31, 2012. Accessed December 5, 2016.

Tags: Early Childhood Caries, caries, dental caries, caries management

Why Photography is Important in Dentistry

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Fri, Dec 16, 2016 @ 01:01 PM

Looking ahead to your career in dentistry, one begins to think of the major aspects that surround a practitioner’s life. Between working one-on-one with patients, running your small business, marketing your future practice (making sure to be aware of new trends and technologies in the marketplace), and increasing your skills, it can seem like nothing can go at the wayside. But have you thought lately about photography, and specifically how much of an important factor it plays in dentistry?

Photography’s use in dentistry cannot be understated. When it comes to practice marketing, no better tool is at the dentist’s disposal. With so much weight put on new business and production, constantly working towards getting new patients in while retaining existing patients, photography can be a good way to communicate directly towards healthcare consumers and support a healthy online presence.

griffin-presentation.jpgA recent presentation from Dr. Jack Griffin, well-respected clinician, author, and educator entitled, “Excellence in Digital Photography & Case Acceptance,” explains how quality photographs support your future practice and help you communicate effectively with your patients. Here’s how to use dental photography to help market your future dental practice:

Photos Over Words

You don’t want to drive a text-heavy marketing message, as consumers and visitors will not be too keen on sticking around to read all your information. In this fast-paced world of social media, it’s challenging to keep users and visitors on your content for long. Lead with photos and let them do the talking. If they’re of good quality and the text adds in pertinent details about the type of care provided, you’ll be queued up to engage visitors.

Smartphone Friendly

Keeping with the times and being optimized for mobile browsers is key. With smartphones and so many easily distracting elements to online usage and screen time, it’s important to hook the consumers in right away with photos to keep them on your practice website or social accounts. With Instagram and other photo-centric apps and technologies at the forefront of current trends, it’s easy to see why taking and developing good quality photos will help you win over your fans and followers. Not only does it allow you to establish your bona fides as a clinician, but photos also allow you to demonstrate the personality of the practice and its staff when posted for convenient viewing.


griffin-office-photo-presentation.jpgIf you have a knack for design, then there are plenty of opportunities to have some fun with your practice marketing and content! Build a logo or structure your future practice on color schemes or designs. For holidays or other important events, give your colors and design a nice upgrade to welcome the coming traditions. Consistency in keeping to a theme or major design tactic will allow better flow when it comes to your marketing principals. If this is not a skill set you have, there are experienced dental website designers and consultants to guide your vision to the desktops and mobile devices of your prospective patients. Request a referral to a provider and start from there.

It’s easy to forget about how much marketing plays a huge role in the success of your future practice. However, it’s one of the most important ways you are going to get new patients to schedule appointments and build your practice. Compared to your clinical training, it’s not that hard to do! Be aware of how visual marketing has become and you will have great ideas of how to best evoke the philosophies and culture of your future practice. Have fun with it!

Tags: dentistry, marketing, photography, digital photography

Fundamentals of Digital Photography

Posted by Anthony Chen on Tue, Dec 13, 2016 @ 01:00 PM

Photography can be scary and challenging especially for new beginners. Picking up the camera can be like picking up the drill for the first time. How do I hold it? Where do I point it? Is it on? But eventually with practice, we become inseparable from the instrument that was once so foreign to us. Hopefully, this guide will make that journey less intimidating.

The Basics

First off, to understand photography, we need to understand the holy trinity of photography: aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.


Aperture refers to the opening in the lens. The bigger the aperture, the more light comes through, just like how our pupil functions. Thus, when shooting in low light, we want a bigger aperture to let more light through or else our pictures will come out darker than we want. On the camera, aperture is denoted as an F number, or F stop. For example: F1.8, F8, F11. The smaller the F stop number, the bigger the aperture. So F2 will have a bigger opening than F11, so keep that in mind!

Now in addition to controlling the amount of light, the aperture also affects the camera’s depth of field. Depth of field in photography refers to how much of the picture is in focus. Remember the first time we picked up our loupes and realized that we have to work at a fixed distance or else our vision gets blurry? This is the exact same concept. A bigger aperture will give us a shallower depth of field, leaving our subject tack sharp and everything else blurry. Conversely, a smaller aperture will give a deeper DoF, allowing us to render our subject, foreground, and background equally crisp and sharp.

f-1.8.png f-11.png

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed in photography controls how long the shutter stays opened. A higher shutter speed will let in less light. Think of it as how fast we are blinking our eyes. The faster the shutter speed, the darker the image. Thus, in low light, we want a slower shutter speed to let in more light. However, low shutter speed also means blurriness from motion. If our camera shutter is not fast enough, we will end up with an unclear picture of a moving subject. On our camera, the shutter speed is denoted in seconds: 1/200s, 1/50s, 1s, 2s.

1-1250s.png 1-40s.png


The ISO number on our camera tells us how sensitive to light the sensor is. The higher the ISO number, the more light the camera will pick up. When we increase our ISO without changing our aperture and shutter speed, our whole picture becomes brighter, which is really helpful when we are limited by those two factors. For example, if we wanted to get a shot of our best friend jumping, we want a really high shutter speed to reduce blurriness from motion. However, there is not enough light, so our picture comes out very dark even when our aperture is at its widest. In this scenario, increasing the ISO will give us a brighter image. So why don’t we shoot in high ISO all the time? Well, the caveat is that higher ISO images tends to be grainier due to the limitation of the camera sensor. Therefore, we should always shoot at the lowest ISO setting possible for highest image quality.

iso100.png iso-6400.jpg

Intraoral Photography

intraoral.jpgNow that we understand the basics, we can dive deeper into dental photography. On the camera, there are usually 5 main settings on the dial: Auto, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Program, and Manual. Each of these settings tells us which parameter we get to control when we shoot in these modes. For example, in aperture priority, we get to set our desired aperture and the camera calculates what shutter speed and ISO we need to get a balanced image. Now, because we want full control of our image, we will be shooting in Manual mode, where we can setup the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO manually. Each camera and lens is different, so the best settings on each will vary, so this is where our knowledge of the fundamentals come into play. But generally speaking, here are the settings we can start with:

intraoral2.jpgAperture: F22

  • for clarity from anteriors to molars

Shutter speed: 1/200s

  • to reduce motion blur from a moving patient

ISO: 100

  • the lowest on the camera

Tweaking for the Best Shot

The biggest problem in intraoral photography is lighting. Without enough light, we will have to shoot at very high ISO, which produces grainy images. So we want to maximize our lighting in any way possible, such as using our overhead light, using a flash, or having mirrors in the mouth to bounce light. Trial and error will play a big role here and figuring out which of the 3 factors we can sacrifice will help us get there. For example, if we shoot at settings mentioned above and the image comes out dark, the first thing we can do is to bump up the ISO. If increasing the ISO to 800 yields us a great picture without much grain, we can stop there. Finding out where the ISO cutoff is before the picture becomes grainy will help speed up the process. Now if we find out that increasing the ISO to the max still doesn’t help the picture brightness, we need to change the other 2 parameters. Usually shutter speed becomes the setting to be altered because we want to keep our DoF at the widest. In the case that we don’t need a deep DoF, such as an extraoral, facial shot, we can increase the aperture, giving us more leeway in our shutter speed and ISO.

Other pointers

  • camera-lens.jpgIn some lens, changing the focal length (zooming in or out) will change the aperture.
  • There is usually a manual switch on the lens itself that allows us to manually focus on our subject. This is important because sometimes the camera will not focus on the actual tooth we want to focus on.
  • Gather as much light as possible onto the subject, whether intraoral or extraoral.

Taking photographs is like cutting a prep. It is difficult at first, but we become faster and more comfortable with time. So from this point forward, practice makes perfect, so let’s get clicking!


Tags: photography, digital photography

Giving Back Through Dental Care

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Tue, Nov 29, 2016 @ 11:00 AM

Male-dentist-shaking-hands-with-patient-resize.jpgThe role of the dentist as caregiver or healer is an important consideration for many dental students pursuing a career in dentistry. While the dental profession provides an excellent salary to its clinicians, it is the compassionate and humanitarian aspects of dentistry that appeal to many entering the field. As Thanksgiving approaches, the spirit of giving back is in the heart and minds of dental students across the U.S. Let us look at several organizations that allow you to provide dental services to undeserved communities.

Give Kids a Smile is a charitable program launched by the American Dental Association in 2003. The focus of the event is to provide free dental care for underserved children all over the country. The program has been a staggering success, with over five million kids receiving free oral health services since its inception. About 10,000 dentists and 30,000 other dental team members provide their dental services annually. Give Kids a Smile is credited for raising national awareness about the importance of oral health and overall health and the fact that millions of children do not receive dental care.

Roseman University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine student Mohammed Bawany ('17) participated in the school’s “Give Kids a Smile” event. In an interview with THE NEXTDDS, Mohammad said; When I reflect back to the ‘Give Kids a Smile’ event, I think of the atmosphere in general in which everyone was there for a single cause and doing their best to try to help some of these people get access to care.”

Mission of Mercy is a non-profit organization who goal is to restore dignity and “healing through love” at mobile clinics, providing free health care and medications. The organization has been providing free healthcare since 1994, and over 25,000 patients are served each year. On November 15 of this year, Mission of Mercy’s Texas branch participated in the 8th Annual Coastal Bend Day of Giving.

THE NEXTDDS Student Ambassador Megan Golia (University of Maryland School of Dentistry, '17) attended Maryland’s Mission of Mercy Dental Program. She stated in a blog written about the altruistic event; “The event was unlike anything I have ever experienced, and I really felt a sense of love and community among everyone there. I assisted alongside dental professionals who cared for the patients like they were family, and it was rewarding to see the impact we made in people’s lives.”

Donated Dental Services (DDS) is a program through the Dental Lifeline Network that connects volunteer dentists with disabled, elderly individuals who cannot afford proper dental treatment. The program operates through a volunteer network of more than 15,000 dentists and 3,700 dental labs across the United States. Since its commencement in 1985, DDS has aided over 117,000 people. DDS operates a program in each state. If interested, click here to locate an application for your state.

If you find yourself in the giving spirit for the holidays, volunteer your service to those who need it. The organizations listed above have greatly helped the lives of thousands of individuals who cannot afford dental care. Dentistry is much more than a lucrative profession, but also a field in which millions of people are positively affected with the restoration of oral and overall health. Dentists do not only provide wellness but also happiness.


Tags: dentistry, giving back, dentists giving back, dentistry giving back

Getting Over the Holiday Slump: Finishing the Year Off Strong

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Sat, Nov 19, 2016 @ 10:45 AM

holiday.jpgIt might be hard to believe that it’s November, and 2016 is coming to an end. As time catches up to us, it comes as no surprise that, in one’s professional life, things can be left at the wayside. It can be addicting to get caught up reflecting on the year instead of moving forward and finishing on a high note. Take every chance to make 2016 a truly successful year, both personally and professionally. With the holidays and other major events coming in full swing, it can be easy to rest on your laurels. However, you’ve been going strong up until this point in your dental career; don’t take a step back in your journey to becoming a dentist. Both schooling and the profession itself demands so much of a student’s time, so it’s very important to keep the rhythm going.

Don’t allow laziness to become a habit; there’s no time to waste! Here are some tips on continuing to be productive this winter:

Limit the Holiday Distractions

Of course, it’s easy to have the holiday festivities: the breaks, the shopping, and the themed-parties, be a major distraction heading into the winter season. It can feel overwhelming handling the stress of both school and the holidays, so make sure to get the shopping done, and don’t go crazy with your celebrations. There’s still finals and other exams to study for, so don’t let the holiday season completely take over the end of the year. School should come first!

Focus on What You’ve Forgotten

Now’s the time to pick up the slack. Have there been things you’ve been unfortunately putting off, and want to get done before the year is over? It’s okay to find yourself in a laid-back mood during this time, but don’t let it interfere with your work. If you feel like you’ve been slipping when it comes to finishing your tasks, step up and fight the urge to fall back. If you’re having trouble during the holiday season, take a look at readjusting your time management skills.

Envisioning 2017

Start making a plan for the new year. You might have some personal New Year’s Resolutions on your mind, but what about your professional goals? If you’ve been slumping at the end of the year and will not be able to accomplish those final goals, start looking ahead to the next year. Plan ahead instead of lackadaisically stumbling into January and February without a clear head to how you’ll tackle the new year. Make a list and start the process early.

The new year is almost here, and with that comes a new set of responsibilities for your dental career. If you feel like your year hasn’t been the best it could be, there’s still time in the final two months of 2016 to turn things around! Getting over the holiday hump can be challenging, but once you prioritize and rethink how you will approach this final time and plan for the new year, you’ll be in a good place to look back on your year with a sense of achievement.

Enroll Now!

Tags: holiday slump, ending the year strong, 2017

Understanding the CAMBRA Approach for Caries Management

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Thu, Nov 10, 2016 @ 05:04 PM

Murphree3.jpgIt’s interesting to see how far dentistry has come in such a short amount of time. As the industry grows, dentists are constantly adapting to new technology and methodologies for restoring their patient's teeth to ideal form and function. Despite how common dental caries and periodontitis are in the modern patient population, new understandings are still being applied to the risks of the disease, improving patient education, and assessing the preventive measures that must be enforced to combat these risks.

The acronym CAMBRA stands for Caries Management By Risk Assessment. It encompasses a methodology of identifying the cause of caries disease through the assessment of risk factors for each individual patient and then managing those risk factors through behavioral, chemical, and minimally invasive restorative procedures.1 In an effort to forego the dependence on operative procedures (the so called “drill and fill”) for dental caries, a CAMBRA Approach can be more cost-effective for the patient, and be less invasive over time.

Given these benefits, it’s easy to see why CAMBRA has become the new standard of care for many practices due to the growing body of research and experts to confirm its efficacy. Since dental caries is a multifactorial process, using CAMBRA can support dentists in managing the disease by three main ways: 1) determining the contributory factors, 2) assessing the risk level for the patient, and 3) ultimately helping the patient find a clear treatment regimen. Risk factors can include visible cavities, enamel lesions, white spots, three-year-old fillings, harmful bacteria, inadequate saliva flow, and frequent snacking.2

The University of California San Francisco (UCSF) School of Dentistry is just one of the many schools that advocate this relatively new, but wholistic technique to dental caries treatment. In a recent article, Dr. Peter Rechmann, Professor of Preventive & Restorative Dental Science, and Dr. John Featherstone, Dean of UCSF School of Dentistry and leading researcher for the school’s new CAMBRA Approach, discussed how the school has adapted to this new curriculum.

Murphree5.jpgThe CAMBRA Approach can be a way to create a long-term goal for the patient and practitioner instead of a short-term solution. Instead of more invasive operative procedures, utilizing a series of chemotherapeutic agents or fluoride-based solutions in the CAMBRA Approach can create a conservative option for the dentist and encourage additional self-care by the patient. In a couple years’ time, CAMBRA began to take a hold nationwide, and Dr. Rechmann is leading a team to study and confirm the approach’s effectiveness.

With many professionals looking to avoid irreversible cavity preparations to manage dental caries, CAMBRA is a very contemporary topic in today's dental schools. Dental students at the UCSF School of Dentistry, for example, learn about dental caries and the CAMBRA approach during their first year of training. Despite this emphasis both at UCSF and many dental schools across the country, operative procedures continue to be the standard response to dental caries for many private practices, and the challenge lies in instilling CAMBRA after graduation. The biggest barrier, besides a change in practice philosophy and patient compliance, is that most insurance companies do not yet reimburse preventive therapies for adults, meaning patients face higher costs and dentists make less profit from incorporating CAMBRA. But as insurance companies see proof of the long-term cost savings of prevention, they may be more likely to expand coverage to these measures.2

While implementing CAMBRA can involve a small learning curve for the practice, it is ultimately in the best interest of the patient and the professional looking for a diagnostic-based, minimally invasive approach to the management of dental caries. On behalf of THE NEXTDDS user community, we'll continue to monitor the progress of the UCSF research team and share their findings.
Join 14,000+ Students! Enroll in THE NEXTDDS now


[1] Bernie KM. CAMBRA: Caries management by risk assessment. DentistryIQ. Published March 1, 2011. Accessed October 27, 2016.

[2] Bai N. Prevention-oriented approach to dentistry helps patients avoid the drill. University of California San Francisco. Published October 20, 2016. Accessed November 4, 2016.

Tags: caries, CAMBRA, dental caries, caries management

MUSoD Student, Pinkesh Shah, Discusses Patient Care & Career Goals

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Fri, Nov 04, 2016 @ 01:00 PM

Advisory Board-Pinkesh Shah.jpgPinkesh Shah our Student Ambassador of the Month for November is a fourth-year dental student attending Marquette University School of Dentistry. If you’re a student interested in the prevention chronic musculoskeletal pain while conducting dental procedures, be sure to read his blog titled An Ergonomically Friendly Dentist. In this THE NEXTDDS interview, he discusses the challenging as well as the rewarding aspects of dentistry and also why he chose this profession. 

THE NEXTDDS: Let’s start at the beginning--why did you choose dentistry as a career?

PS: From a very young age, I knew I wanted to pursue a career that would provide meaningful aide to individuals. I became very familiar and in love with the opportunities healthcare provided. Dentistry stood out to me the most because it provides the opportunity for me to get to know the patient on a greater level and practice preventative care.

THE NEXTDDS: That a commendable reason. Is it at all generational?

PS: Actually, I will be the first in my family to be a dentist.

THE NEXTDDS: How exciting! Briefly take a look to your earlier years in dental school. Were you excited or nervous when working on your first patient?

PS: As an upcoming 4th-year dental student, I am seeing a couple of patients every day. I’ll admit, although it was exciting to finally be working on actual patients, it was nerve-wracking. 

THE NEXTDDS: We can imagine. Now, what aspect of dental school is the most challenging for you?

PS: I find frustrating how underemphasized dental care can be at times among my patients. Trying to educate them to seek continued preventative care or follow through with referrals is definitely something I struggle with.

THE NEXTDDS: It definitely is challenging, yet rewarding once accomplished. What roles do social media and educational resources play in dental education? How frequently do you access them for school-related activities?

PS: THE NEXTDDS helps supplement the education I received in dental school. It provides students with a vast network of learning opportunities to broaden the scope of what they know.

THE NEXTDDS: Well we’re glad to be of assistance to your studies. Next question: What do you envision your next five years of dentistry to look like?

PS: I hope to pursue oral and maxillofacial residency, and thereafter join a group or multi-specialty practice.

THE NEXTDDS: Sounds like a plan! Are there any clinical topics you find most intriguing?

PS: I am always fascinated by the ability of the human body to heal itself. It’s amazing how we can do full craniofacial reconstructions and restore a person’s life to what it used to be.

THE NEXTDDS: What clinical topics would be most beneficial to illustrate in online articles/images/videos?

PS: I don’t think the stress should be placed on presenting particular clinical topics, but more or less on presenting a wide variety of each. As an educational resource, it is important to have variety in what we provide so that students can get the most out of their experiences with THE NEXTDDS.

THE NEXTDDS: Interesting outlook. You’ve been a Student Ambassador for THE NEXTDDS for a little while now. How has this experience helped you in networking with your peers?

PS: I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know so many representatives across the nation, and it has allowed me to communicate with them regarding experiences at their respective schools.

THE NEXTDDS: Do you have any chief concerns about being a dental student?

PS: To name a couple, student debt and licensure examinations.

THE NEXTDDS: Student debt is definitely the most common answer. Finally, what do you enjoy most about being a dental student, or dental school in general?

PS: It is great finally getting to learn what I will be doing for the rest of my life.

THE NEXTDDS: We’re sure it is. Pinkesh, thank you for your participation in this interview--we appreciate your opinions and insight. We look forward to collaborating you throughout your 4th year and beyond!

Want to be a Student Ambassador at your dental school? Submit your Application!

Tags: Student Ambassadors

10 Relaxation Techniques for Dental Students

Posted by THE NEXTDDS on Wed, Nov 02, 2016 @ 11:45 AM

Legs-Up-The-Wall-Pose-Viparita-Karani-yoga-poseiStock_000030761864_Medium-300x192.jpgStress is a normal part of life. At times, it serves a useful purpose. Stress helped you to get this far in school and headed towards a successful career. But if you don't get a handle on your stress, it can seriously interfere with your work, family life, and health. Our message to you? Relax. You deserve it, it's good for you, and it takes less time than you think. Following these tips can take you from “take a pill” to “chill” in less than 15 minutes.

1. Meditate

Humans have been meditating for centuries. It’s free and is has no side effects. A few minutes of this practice per day can help ease anxiety. Solid physiologic evidence has shown that meditation alters the brain’s neural pathways in a process referred to as “neuroplasticity”. You can effectively rewire your brain to look at life and its associated stressors differently.

It's simple: Sit up straight with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes. Focus your attention on reciting -- out loud or silently -- a positive mantra such as “I feel at peace” or “I love myself.” Place one hand on your belly to sync the mantra with your breaths. Let any distracting thoughts float by like clouds.

2. Breathe Deeply

Even when you’re stacked up with patients, you can take a 5-minute break and focus on your breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth. Focus only on the sensations of air moving into and out of your nostrils. This simple trick counters the physiologic effects of stress by slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure.

3. Be Present

Mindfulness is an extension of meditation. It compels you to be present, to pay attention to things in your environment--even if just for a few minutes. Notice how the air feels on your face when you’re walking and how your feet feel hitting the ground. Enjoy the texture and taste of each bite of food. Pay close attention to the smell of fresh coffee brewing, or even something as mundane as the hissing of the autoclave or the sound of the air conditioner. This is an extension of meditation, and is incredibly powerful.

4. Reach Out

You are a leader by the very nature of your job, and leadership can be lonely. Remember that your social network is one of your best tools for handling stress. Talk to others -- preferably face to face, or at least on the phone. Share what's going on. You can get a fresh perspective while keeping your connection strong. And remember that it is always preferable to lean on friends, colleagues, family, and counsellors than it is to lean on staff or patients.

5. Tune In to Your Body

When you get home from a busy day, take some time to mentally scan your body to get a sense of how stress might be affecting it. Lie on your back, or sit with your feet on the floor. Start at your toes and work your way up to your scalp, noticing how your body feels. You can focus on those tight traps in your shoulders and get them to relax. You can ease that tightness in your lumbar paraspinals or the achiness in your feet. Allow the muscles to your hands to relax: their work is done for the day. As you breathe, imagine that fresh oxygen is flowing into those body parts, nourishing and relaxing them.

6. Decompress

Physical therapists rely on modalities such as heat and acupressure to treat tense muscles. You should too. Place a warm heat wrap around your neck and shoulders for 10 minutes. Close your eyes and relax your face, neck, upper chest, and back muscles. Remove the wrap, and use a tennis ball or foam roller to massage away tension. You can place the ball between your back and the wall. Lean into the ball, and hold gentle pressure for about 15 seconds. Then move the ball to another spot, and apply pressure. If you’re fortunate enough to have an understanding significant other, that works too.

7. Laugh Out Loud

It is said that laughter is the best medicine. It lowers cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, and boosts brain chemicals including endorphins and dopamine, which help your mood. Lighten up by tuning in to your favorite sitcom or video, or chatting with someone who makes you smile.

8. Crank Up the Tunes

Listening to soothing music can lower blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety. You can create a playlist of relaxing songs or nature sounds like the ocean or rain. Many online websites have these canned soundtracks for meditation. You can focus on the different melodies, instruments, or singers in the music. You also can blow off steam by rocking out to more upbeat tunes, dancing, or singing like no one is watching!

9. Get Moving

Exercise is a cheap psychotherapist, and in fact numerous controlled clinical trials have confirmed the efficacy of exercise in the treatment of anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders. You don’t have to run in order to get a runner’s high. All forms of exercise, including yoga and walking, can ease depression and anxiety by helping the brain release feel-good chemicals and by giving your body a chance to practice dealing with stress. You can go for a quick walk around the block, take the stairs up and down a few flights, or do some stretching exercises like head rolls and shoulder shrugs. And it’s free.

10. Be Grateful

Gratitude is powerful medicine for the worst events in your life. Even when things are difficult, you still have all of your skills, your friends, your knowledge, your family, your patients, your support staff, your means of transportation, and a home. Gratitude for the small victories in life helps to stomp out stress and improve your outlook on life. It helps keep challenges in perspective.

Keep a gratitude journal—or running list on your smartphone--to help you remember all the things that are good in your life. Use these notes to savor good experiences like a child’s smile, a successful patient case, a sunshine-filled day, and good health. Don’t forget to celebrate accomplishments like mastering a new knowledge factoid at school or a new hobby. Take care of yourself, doctor-to-be. Then you can be more present for others.

Find more helpful information by enrolling in THE NEXTDDS

Tags: stress management, stress relief, relaxation techniques, relaxation

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