Front Office

On Wednesday, I spent some time with the people in the front office of the practice. I had no idea how much behind the scenes work went into running a successful practice. I learned a few things.

1. The people at the front desk have to be very familiar with dentistry. It seems obvious now that in order to work at a dental office you need to know about dentistry, but I never really thought about it.

2. There is always something to do. Everyone in the office is constantly working, even when there are no patients there to see the doctor.

3. Insurance is complicated. And boring.

I definitely would not be good at this job and I now have more respect for the people who take on these responsibilities.


On Tuesday, I got to observe two surgeries. The first was a tooth extraction which was disgusting because of the condition of the tooth. I won’t get into too much detail, but the tooth fell apart after the surgeon applied very little pressure. I walked out halfway through. The second surgery was way better. It was the first step of an implant being put in. This involved putting a screw into the bone where the missing tooth was at one point. I liked this a lot more. I have been thinking about going into oral surgery, but I’m not sure how I feel about it. I think I would be able to do it, but I’d have to watch a lot more surgeries to be sure.

Gimlen Orthodontics (Part 2)

I actually got to do things this week. The dental assistants showed me how to clean up the stations after every patient, set up for the next one, and sterilize the tools. They were happy to let me do this for them and I was glad I could finally help with something. I spent more time with the assistants than with the orthodontist, but I didn’t mind because I got to see all of the action. This experience made it clear to me just how important teamwork is in this field. I actually prefer being on a team rather than working solo, so this made me love orthodontics even more.

Next week, I’ll be spending time with a periodontist and I’m not sure what to expect, but I’m excited for it!

Gimlen Orthodontics

I’ve spent this week at Gimlen Orthodontics and I think I’ve found my specialty. Going into this project, I knew I wanted to go into dentistry, but I was thinking more about general dentistry. I was completely wrong. Ortho is way more fast paced, which I like. On an average day, this particular orthodontist (Dr. Amy Gimlen) will see about 50 patients. You would think that patient care would be jeopardized because of this, but from what I’ve seen, that is a false assumption. Another thing I like is that there are patients of all ages. I’ve seen five-year-olds and white-haired men and women receive care in the same office. Luckily, I’ve gotten to spend time with doctors who are great with their patients and have given me plenty of material to work with for my presentation.

Beachside Smiles (Part 2)

Last Friday was my last day with Dr. Ana at Beachside Smiles. I’m kind of glad I get to do something different next week. I have come to the conclusion that general dentistry is not for me; I need a little more action. I will be spending my second week shadowing an orthodontist. I’m hoping that I will be able to actually do things, even if that means making phone calls or filing papers. In continuing my investigation of what goes into adequate patient care, I will make note of the differences in the way dentists interact with adults and children. I’m looking forward to spending time in a louder, more busy environment and also learning more about orthodontics.

Beachside Smiles

I’ve been shadowing Dr. Ana Niehoff and while she does do flawless work on her patients’ teeth, nothing really exciting has happened. The most interesting procedure I have observed so far is prepping a tooth for a crown. This involves shaving down the tooth with a drill and placing a temporary crown on top. I have gotten so well-acquainted with the drill that its humming puts me to sleep. It’s great being able to see dental work being done, but I wish I could do something more hands-on. Dr. Ana talks me through procedures, but I’ve only been able to help with sterilizing tools and holding the sucker. This is probably the biggest obstacle I have faced so far.

One of my favorite parts is seeing how Dr. Ana interacts with her patients and interacting with them myself. She is so good at making sure they feel comfortable and aren’t in pain as she works on them. She carries normal conversations the entire time she works on them and asks if they are ok every few minutes. One of my main goals going into this project was to learn what it takes to provide exceptional patient care and I believe this is the perfect place to gain knowledge in this area.