This is the second in a series of interviews highlighting THE NEXTDDS Academic Advisory Board members and their views on dental education today. From their choices in digital tools in the classroom to what advice they would give current dental students, these academicians will weigh in on their experiences.
Anthony P. Eltink, DMD, MS
What is the most rewarding aspect of your dental specialty?
Being an orthodontist allows you to form relationships with children and families, and it is a pleasure to watch them grow up. The positive impacts on a child's self confidence and self esteem that are directly related to the improvements in their smiles are incredible, and it is great to be a part of these changes.
What digital or online tools do you use in the classroom or clinical setting?
The biggest advancements in digital technology in orthodontics lie in the realm of digital treatment planning and execution with appliances such as Invisalign. Taking the patient's teeth to a computer screen, manipulating their occlusion in a virtual world, and then applying that clinically is an amazing advancement in orthodontic technology.
How often do you assign students material that requires online research?
Much of the learning for our orthodontic residents comes from finding an understanding of the literature and determining orthodontic treatments that are evidence-based and sound. The internet is rich with both information and misinformation, and we work hard to create orthodontists who understand the power of online tools.
What advice can you give current dental students nearing graduation who are interested in your specialty?
Interview well, and be different. Orthodontics as a specialty is very competitive, and you will be competing with other very qualified applicants. If you interview well and are memorable it will go a long way toward ranking highly for the residency match.
Does this generation of students present any unique challenges to educators? If so, explain.
Education in a residency program is driven by self-motivation. We provide opportunities to learn, but there is no spoon-feeding of information. Younger generations might not be used to this method of instruction, and might miss opportunities to learn.
What do you find to be the most difficult dental concept to teach? Why?
Craniofacial growth and development - the head and neck go through so many changes during periods of growth, and the complex nature of dental development takes place in this very dynamic environment. These are difficult concepts to teach and to test.
What digital adjunct materials do you find most useful for students, and for what lessons do you use them?
Technologies for virtual treatment outcomes and digital treatment planning are crucial to understanding orthodontic diagnosis and treatment planning. We use these routinely in our orthodontic department.
Why did you choose your specialty?
I chose orthodontics because of the total package that it offers - low stress, "clean" dentistry, you get to work with kids, no emergencies, generous compensation, physically less demanding than general dentistry....
What do you wish you had known about the dental industry as a whole when you were a student?
I wish I had known more about running a business. We spend so many hours learning about diseases, teeth and therapies, and are then thrust out in the world and asked to run a business. Well-organized, specialty specific business courses should be added to the dental school and residency curricula.