In fifth grade, I knew I wanted to be in dentistry. Unfortunately, I thought that meant either being a receptionist, assistant, or hygienist. The thought of being a dentist never entered my mind until I was finishing up my dental hygiene program.
Pivotal Dental School & Career Moments
After several more years of working and evening classes, I was accepted to dental school. I was extremely grateful to get in. I loved dental school and sought out the best instructors so I could learn as much as possible.
One instructor in particular invited me to help her in the TMJ Clinic. Back in 1988, exposure to splint therapy and equilibration techniques was rare. She impressed upon me the importance of stable joints and occlusion. I was able to work with her on two patients my senior year. At the time, I did not realize what a gift this had been. She was also one of several instructors who recommended the Pankey Institute to me. Turns out that was a gift as well.
Following graduation and a GPR, I started practice as an associate with my uncle. In 1994, I began my journey at the Pankey Institute. I had no idea just how much coming to Key Biscayne would change my life.
Although we learn so much throughout the continuums, the emphasis on stable joints and occlusion has been critical to my success as a dentist. Most of the failures we encounter are a direct result of not doing a thorough enough evaluation of our patients before treatment begins. Learning how to do a comprehensive examination and achieving stability is absolutely essential for preventing mistakes and failures.
During the second continuum, I discovered my own TMJ dysfunction and was treated with splint therapy, orthodontics, and equilibration. Going through these procedures enabled me to witness why it is so important to have stability.
Had I not been introduced to TMJ concerns in dental school and later gone to the Pankey Institute, I would not have gained the knowledge to anticipate and prevent failures for my patients. The strong emphasis on a comprehensive evaluation enabled me to treat patients successfully and have an enjoyable and meaningful career.
What are your most memorable or formative moments from dental school?