Friday, December 12, 2014

Don't - Stop - Beliieeevin'

I'm a bit of an optimist. When I see the worst sides of people, I try to remind myself that even bad people have someone they love. Even bad people have friends. Even bad people have someone they're nice to, and someone they share things with.

I suppose what I mean by "bad" is any action/intention that conflicts with my personal morals. In my head, I'll organize "bad" as any time people choose not to act out of kindness, courage, humility, responsibility, or the desire to make things better. I choose to be an optimist because the bad can really hold heavy on my mind, and I need a reason to let those negative feelings go.

Unfortunately, dental school is probably the worst environment for growth on a human level. Daily stressors interfere with the capacity for empathy, chipping away at your abilities to be humble, forgive others, and be a good friend. Because unfortunately, most people in dental are the most stressed and sleep deprived they've ever been, and to top that all off, we're all on the brink of this dream career and its hard to let anything stand in the way of that.

BUT! That is probably the silver lining to all of this - whichever dental school you are at, whichever dental school you may go to, you will run into gunners, manipulative people, major flakes, etc, but it's not really them you're interacting with. It's the worst version of them.

Something that helps keeps my mind fresh and gives me faith in people over again is listening to podcasts. Dental school is literally this little fishbowl of people - people who are slightly more OCD/neurotic than your average bunch - so it's a great way to put things into perspective. I wrote about this in my year off, but it's really a great way to click that mental refresh button when people just aren't everything you wish they could be. And lets be real, I'm not all puppies and rainbows either. My labmates can attest to the extreme hanger I have when we are in lab for 8+ hours a day. I forget, and overbook, and snap on occasion. But I promise, podcasts are a worthy investment for those of you out there who are drowning in finals and just wondering why people act the way that they do sometimes. Ordinary people truly have the capacity for the extraordinary.

And so, on this rainy day, I'm going to try to keep that sunshine alive and make it through these finals!

My favorites are NPR's Radiolab, TED Radio Hour, This American Life, and I hear some great things about Serial :) 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

"Apparently, UCLA dental students have the lowest quality of life"

Every dental school has its up's and down's. Either you're paying way too much for your education and your swamped in loans (actually - that's probably everyone minus Texas), or the administration at your school is always difficult, or the people you're surrounded by are shady, or your requirements are too strenuous, or the weather is brutal, and honestly, the hypothetical list of complaints just goes on and on and on.

This is something one of the med students told me the other day. He was like, "This probably won't make you feel any better, but apparently, UCLA dental students have the lowest quality of life of all dental students." He was right to assume it wouldn't make me feel any better, but there's definitely some truth to that statement. 

We have some of the most academically rigorous classes, our clinic requirements are apparently unreasonable in some respects (that's a hurdle I have yet to encounter, but I'll let you know about it once I get there), it's difficult to get patients to clinic (it's hard enough for me to explain directions to my mom with all the construction in front of the dental school), and yes - I would say they really put us through the wringer. 

Despite it all, I've gone through most of dental school with a pretty positive attitude - I stay involved, I try to make sure my friends know how much I appreciate them, I make an effort to care about things outside of this dental school fishbowl, and I try to maintain a healthy balance in terms of eating right and exercising. I mean, look how much I did in one year! In the end, it's all how you look at it, because it's so easy to complain and forget about all the good times (one of the main reasons I continue to update this blog). 

That's why my goal for D2, a year that is notorious for its unending lab projects and exams - (people keep saying that winter is coming), is to make the people around me happy. Because in the end, it's really hard for me to be happy when the people I care about don't feel the same way. 

It's so important to step back and remember how lucky we are to be where we are. So even when school is stressful and it seems like the world is against you, it's important to be happy because all those people who have helped you be who you are today, did not invest time in you so you could mope around. They did it because they knew you could be someone big - they knew you could be someone important, who could make a difference, and be a positive influence in so many other lives. Whatever dental school you're at now, I know there's someone out there who didn't get the golden opportunity that you have today. ~1500 people applied to UCLA during my cycle, and there are only 88 of us in my class... That's only 6% of the people who applied!! 

So yes, even though UCLA is hard, I still think back to my first couple days of dental school, when I would see the 2nd years in lab and be amazed at how much they know. Well guess what people, I'm that second year now!! I may not know very much, but whatever I know is because UCLA has forced me to grow up and to learn a crap ton in one very short year. I was prepared enough to take my boards and pass them by the end of my first year (which I will post about shortly) and overall, I'm happy. I still have 2 exams, 3 quizzes, and dentures this week but hey, you gotta work to get that DDS. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Our professor is trolling us so hard lololol. check out the last bullet of the last slide of his presentation about casting gold for crowns.

Friday, October 10, 2014

My first week back - feeling like a D2.

You will not believe how much has happened in my first week back in school. We literally hit the ground running.

I gave my first injections. 

I spent over 12 hours in 4th floor lab in one day. (DENTURES - JUST KILL ME NOW)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Indirect Summer Final: #30 FGC on the rod

If you're curious what it feels like to take a lab practical in dental school, just think about Food Network shows like Chopped or MasterChef. Each home cook comes in, "completely prepared", with a signature dish that they've done hundreds of times. Once that clock starts ticking though, everything changes. Little things that they had never messed up before begin to painfully whittle away their chances of winning - batter that randomly won't rise, ingredients that won't come together, or aspects that are forgotten entirely. These mistakes pile up, knocking the competitor's confidence with each blow. And when the competitors' time is up, each looks down at their plates, with an array of responses from "shit, what is this mess I've made", "merrr...." or a smile that says "NAILED IT."

Monday, August 25, 2014

One final down, three to go!

I was studying in Starbucks the other day, when I noticed this sign had gone up..

I got so excited even though I don't drink pumpkin spice lattes.. haha.. why?? Because it means fall is coming!! I mean, don't get me wrong - the sunshine is nice and all.. but that LA heat.. I guess I'm just not built for warmer weather :p I miss those days back in Berkeley when the air's brisk, and you always need a jacket. I just don't like sweating unless it's because I'm at the gym -__- and I swear, our blue, non-stretch scrubs that show every drip of sweat really don't help. 

I'm also pretty nervous because that means fall quarter is coming.. but.. excited to see new faces in the incoming D1 class! 

Monday, August 18, 2014

If you've ever wondered how dentists learn to give shots..

Well, you learn on each other.

I've heard horror stories of hematomas, injecting into your classmate's nerve, etc etc.

So this should definitely be interesting. Apparently, we start injecting on our classmates the day we get back from summer break! Isn't that fun....

Oh but first, we learn on this plum.
So it goes step 1, plum.
Step 2, human.

Lol just kidding, I'm sure there are more steps in between 1 and 2. I mean, I really hope so..

Thursday, August 14, 2014


"You are unlimited." - the tag on my tea
Shoutout to my spicy morning tea for helping me start the day off right.  

Monday, August 11, 2014

Not Exactly Easy, Breezy.

Summer quarters at UCLA are supposed to be a breeze, and now that we're almost done with the quarter, I wouldn't say that I quite agree with that statement.

We still have class from 10AM - 5PM on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, but with a later start on Thursdays at 11AM - 5PM, and then our Fridays end early, and run from 8AM - noon.  One of the nice things about our late starts is that since I'm a morning person, I can be productive and do all of the things - like gym, study, write up my notes from previous classes, and even throw in a leisurely breakfast.

The problem is, this quarter is basically the prep quarter for all the insanity that's supposed to come in D2. I mean, we're "technically D2's", but everyone says that you really don't feel that way until the incoming D1's finally get here - because for the time being, my class is still the bottom of the totem pole. Tangent - I have to say though, I'm super excited to see some fresh faces, and to see some friends that are in the incoming class :) But back to this whole thing about D2 being super hard, it's supposed to be very academically challenging (oral pathology, anyone?), and you have crazy amounts of lab work to finish (dentures for days.) On top of all that, elections for a bunch of leadership positions happen in the summer, so all the prep work for the year happens now.

So yes, summer quarter is difficult because we suddenly have 3 lab classes (well, I guess only 2 because it's really only Direct and Indirect restoration), but we also have Perio labs now, where we learn how to use the instruments that hygienists use - like scalers, the explorer, and the perio probe. I haven't uploaded any of my pictures from projects, so here are some from this quarter:

Here are the same projects from the occlusal.

Saturday, July 19, 2014


I just scheduled my NBDE Part I.

Holy moly shit just became so real.

Days till National Board Dental Examination Part I: 65 DAYS.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

D1 Wrap-Up!

Hello :)

Winter and spring quarter have been full of their own challenges, each carrying that hallmark of perpetual growth which can only be the by-product of heavy amounts of stress. Winter quarter reminded me why it's important to have a solid academic background before you start dental school - it's no joke. The sheer volume of information is what gets you. To be honest, all the material is much more simple/easy to understand in comparison to my classes in undergrad, but having so much material in such a short amount of time (I had to do that semester --> quarter transition from Cal to UCLA).

Aside from didactics, spring quarter was really difficult because it was the first time we started Indirect Restoration - which is basically where you learn how to do crown preps, like full gold crowns, PFM's (porcelain-fused to metal), and a bunch of other random lab classes where you learn how to mount casts, use a facebow, and finally pull out our fancy-shmancy articulators, which apparently costs a thousand dollars?! And apparently the case we carry them in is like $300+?? idk dude.

It's funny though, because in the first quarter of dental school, we were all so eager to be in lab, and we'd stay extra hours just doing simple things like waxing.. But in the past quarter, we've upped that game from 1 lab class of waxing in the fall, to 3 lab classes (minimum 9 hours/week, not including any extra time you spend in there practicing, etc) - where we really started drilling and developing our hand skills.

One of the hardest things this quarter has been starting Indirect. To be honest, up to this point, I've been most comfortable in lab (I'm not so smart you see, but I really like small crafty things) - but indirect threw me for a huge loop. My first prep basically looked like a mini birdbath, where I just scooped out the entire inner-portion of my tooth. I showed a D2 (and I love her to death) but she straight up laughed and called it adorable. hahahaha. I went from really enjoying waxing, and being decent at drilling for direct restoration, to being really really horrible - seriously, way worse than the average person.  And that freaked me out because I've always thought that if I could see something, I could copy it. And here was this prep, that I could see with my eyeballs, and I could understand the angles and everything, but my hands just wouldn't do it!! It was so frustrating, I can't even begin to tell you. I started dreaming about indirect, and the slopes of the preps, and all this nonsense - so I went in more and just tried practicing. The first 3 still sucked, but after the 4th one, something finally clicked. Btw, if you ever have trouble in lab, try youtubing any of the techniques you're trying to learn. I think they teach you only one method in lab classes, but there are a bunch of other methods online, and they may help you get a new perspective on the project you're trying to complete.

Also, I've been a huge crammer my ENTIRE academic career. At Berkeley, we had the semester system, like I mentioned earlier, so I could straight up do nothing for 3-4 weeks, and then start studying at the last minute before a midterm finally rolled around. So I tried doing that again fall, winter, and spring quarter, and lemme tell you, it is not pretty. During winter quarter finals, my friends and I barricaded ourselves inside a study room for like, 4 days straight. It was seriously the worst. It was hilarious, but also the worst. 2-3 hours of sleep a night.. it's just not pretty.

So lemme tell you what I've been practicing in the latter half of this past quarter. PAYING ATTENTION IN CLASS!! And I've got to say, it works miracles for my workout and sleep schedule. So I'm going to keep doing that. and if you're a crammer like me, maybe you should try it too :)

Personal notes/things I've learned this quarter:

- Make efficient use of class time - make your study notes during class and pay attention.
- Use a paper planner, because I suck at google calendar. Guess I'm too old school for computer notifications.
- Always bring your phone charger. Everywhere. Seriously.
- Blog more.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Pig Jaw Flap and Osseous Surgery Perio Workshop

Okay, so the content looks a little graphic, but don't worry! That's just a pig jaw. 

This past Saturday, I went to an awesome workshop by UCLA Perio Study Club, to learn a little bit about how to make gum flaps and how osseous defects are corrected. As a first year, I've been curious about the different specialities, and I figured that participating in events like this was the best way to expose myself to them.

We started off the morning with a lecture by Dr. Jonathan Do, who's one of the perio faculty at UCLA.  He talked about some basics about perio procedures and what periodontists do - which is to care for the supporting structures of the teeth - like the gums, cementum, alveolar bone, etc. A periodontist can come along and remove the bacteria and calculus that builds up on the "hard-to-reach" surfaces of the tooth, to get rid of the infection and subsequent inflammation; or do perio surgery to reduce the depth of gum pockets; place implants, and a buncha other stuff. Dr. Do mentioned that a lot of perio has to do with oral hygiene instruction, and being able to convince your patients to make life style changes and commitments to maintaining their gum hygiene, so they don't end up edentulous, aka without any teeth.

So as far as what my classmates and I did during the workshop, we basically learned about the basics of making gum flaps, correcting osseous defects, and suturing. The pictures show where I scalloped at the margins of the teeth and then I used a scalpel to separate the gingiva from the bone, up to about a millimeter beyond the muco-gingival margin. Then I pulled the gums together from the lingual and buccal sides (tongue and cheek sides) and sutured them together. 

I can't actually imagine doing this in a patient.. A lot of these perio surgeries happen when a patient is awake and under local anesthesia and there's usually a good amount of bleeding.. soo.. yeah.. Moral of the story - make sure you floss and take care of those gums, so you don't end up like this little piggy. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Let's Catch Up

Oh man, it's been a really long time since I've written anything. I got into this slump where school always felt so overwhelming, I wasn't really sure how to express any of it at all.

The culprit? D1 winter quarter.

The dreaded, infamous, D1 winter quarter at UCLA was definitely one of the most academically challenging times of my life - we had exams and midterms almost every week, sometimes up to three a week, with a baseline of 3 other quizzes or assignments per week. Every day was the same schedule on repeat - you didn't even really need to ask me "what I was up to" because I only had a handful of answers - study, gym, eat, or sleep. And that last bit did not happen often enough.

Still, I want to say that D1 fall quarter was more difficult, because personally, that adjustment period from having been out of school to being back in the thick of it and figuring out how to study and be an academically responsible human being while trying to place yourself and adapt to your new life is one of the hardest things out there. That, plus anatomy. Anatomy seriously killed me.

D1 winter quarter is known for being hard because you've got so many didactic classes - Systems (physiology), Microbiology, Radiology, Pharmacology, Cariology, and some silly "Critical Thinking" class where we honestly do anything but - and you're starting real-live "I'm going to be a dentist" drilling for the first time (Direct Restoration). No more silly wax-ups. I also like to stay involved and one of the ways I've been doing that is by participating in events involving the American Student Dental Association (ASDA).

Anyway, this is my quick catch-up post. SO, stay tuned because I have a lot of things to talk about.

It's Easter, and I want to say thank you Jesus for Your sacrifice and for Your gift of grace. Thank You for all the ways that You love me, and for being my rock. Thank You for being my sanity through the insanity, and my calm during the storm. Thank You for the cross. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014


Oh man, I am totally obsessed with this cartoonist - Connie Sun. Her comics just have this quiet sense of humor and dignity and honesty that's just super relatable and sits on your heart all warm-like. Does that make any sense? I don't know, but that's how I feel whenever I read her stuff. It's just perfect :) Here's one that inspired me today.. plus a couple more that I just really liked and thought I'd share. haha.
It's just a breath of fresh air when you feel like dental school is shitting on you all the time. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Yay Electric Toothbrushes!

Yippee!! We finally got our free electric toothbrushes from the school today!

There's been so many things getting me down lately - with all of our exams and microbio quiz tomorrow - but this made me so happy!! I've always wanted one :) Hehe.. it's the simple things.

Okay, clearly I am WAY too excited about this toothbrush, but when you've spent the past couple weeks only getting guilty sleep and constantly stressing about the next exam, I'd say the contrast is big enough to elicit my reaction.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day Errbody!

There's nothing like a little microbio + STD's to get you in that Valentine's Day mood.

I fear the impending doom that this microbio class is bringing. UGH. This is going to be awful, I know it :( This class also makes me scared of everything - like pets, and snow, and toilet seats.

Also, jajangmyeon/jjambbong + nrb with these cuties.. lol :)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


This quarter, our monster class is called Systems (last quarter was Anatomy), which is basically human physiology divided into each body "system". We started off with cardiology, so we've been learning about heart function and pathology. We just finished our first giant Systems midterm, so now I have a chance to show you one of the super cool things that we've done this quarter!

As we've been going through all the different heart diseases, one of the ways we applied what we've learned is through CBL - which is case-based learning. Basically, we get a case - or a list of symptoms and medical history of a patient - and then try to diagnose their primary problem. One week, we had the opportunity to go into the human simulation lab and test out our doctor-ing abilities with more cases. This Human Simulation robot thing costs around $100,000!! Isn't that crazy? It breathes, speaks, bleeds, salivates, and has a heart beat and pulse. It's still kind of funny to me that in dental school, it's like we're spending so much of our time learning to be physicians, but I suppose as a health care professional, it's important to have at least this basic knowledge of the human body and what happens when things go awry.. (?) lol. At least, that's what I tell myself when I'm studying things that I probably won't be using in the future -__-

Here's a quick video of it if you're curious! It's not really doing anything but blinking and breathing (you can see the chest rise and fall) but hey, how often do you get to see a blinky breathe-y human robot-y thing. 
Some of my classmates doing the doctor-ing. (Thanks Young!)

**Side note, if you haven't seen the movie Her yet, YOU SHOULD. It is a beautiful (and totally creepy) story about the human capacity for love - and what exactly that's supposed to mean.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Drilling & Amalgam

This quarter, we've leveled up from wax-ups to drilling, which presents its own set of problems and things to get used to. Within this quarter, we've started using our nifty loupes, handpieces, and all of these different condensers/burnishers to place the amalgam. Amalgam is the material that makes "silver fillings" if you've ever seen those in people's mouths.

Honestly, our school isn't the best about instructing you in exactly what to do when you enter lab, so the first time we drilled was kind of a disaster, lol. Everyone was burning through teeth (basically drilling straight through the plastic), and it just smelled like burnt marshmallows throughout lab. When I first tried to use my drill, I thought I placed the burr correctly (the little metal tip that goes in the drill), but apparently I didn't because it flew out and hit me in the face!! I then spent the next 5 minutes crawling around on the floor (which happens to be the most unfortunate pattern because it's basically tooth colored with markings that looks like burrs all over it. How convenient.)

Anyway, here are my first couple of projects from this quarter! The part that I did is basically the little squiggly shapes that are drilled out of the tooth. These are called "preps".

It's funny because when you just look at them, they look so silly and easy to make. If I just saw these, I would think to myself, "Don't you just stick the drill into the tooth and go?" But there's seriously so much to think about!! Is your pulpal wall flat, does any part of the prep catch when you run an explorer over it, are the cavosurface margins smooth, is it deep enough, is it TOO deep?!, is your isthmus too wide, ARE YOU EVEN DRILLING ON THE RIGHT TOOTH? 
and the list just goes on.. lol. 

Anyway, after that, we have to fill our preps with amalgam, which is what we started working on this week. These are the supplies we use for our amalgam fillings! 

 And here's my finished product (the tooth with the silver stuff, aka amalgam, on the inside)…

Haha, this has a lot of problems, but hopefully I'll get better by the end of the quarter! At least things can only get better from here. I know there's a lot wrong with this, but I don't really understand how to use my condensers/work with the amalgam material yet.. It's weird and crunchy, and squeaks like a door, and has a strange pace of setting. You have about 15 minutes where its workable, before it's too hard to carve any anatomy or pack it anymore, and using your burnishers only makes the surface shiny.. Oh well, I'll figure it out haha.

Now, back to studying… we have our first Systems midterm on cardiology this Wednesday, with over 50 hours of lecture material to study.. There are only 24 hours in a day!!!!! Oh goodness.

So what am I doing blogging? Beats me.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Yup, this is dental school.

You know you're in dental school when…

You're assigned a 3-hour lab to learn tooth-brushing techniques. Fortunately, this only took about an hour and a half. 
Here, our professor is showing us the "Bass Method" - the most effective way to disturb bacterial colonies on your teeth, and prevent the formation of plaque, gum disease, and cavities. Contrary to popular belief, brushing "hard" and "scrubbing your teeth clean of the tooth bugs" isn't the best way to take care of your pearly whites. Instead, angle your tooth brush 45 degrees, and use a jiggling motion. This reduces periodontal disease, and prevents you from injuring your gums during brushing. 

We got a little goodie bag of all these fun dental supplies so we could try them out.  The idea was to use everything so we can have a better understanding of different options for more effective plaque control methods.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

First Post of D1 Winter Quarter!


I have so many updates - a wrap-up of my first quarter in dental school, adventures in SF, Vegas trip with my class, DSD Mammoth trip, New Year's resolutions, and much, much more. It's a bit overwhelming, but I'll try to start from the beginning, and hopefully catch everything up over the next couple of weeks.

Here goes.

Somehow, I made it through my first quarter in dental school. I feel like this is a borderline miracle here, people.

I was talking to a friend the other day, who insisted that you need to be "some kind of crazy" in order to make it through dental school. Let's be real, you need to be somewhat crazy to even get here. I can personally attest to the neuroticism and OCD that frequents the personalities of students here (no offense guys, this includes me lol). When you think about the insane volume of work that you're expected to learn/memorize/regurgitate, with all the extracurriculars you try to fit in, and the social life that you want to have, with the sleep schedule your body needs.. it's just.. it's not possible.

It's not possible unless you're just a little bit crazy. lol.

I'm already 3 weeks into my 2nd quarter at dental school (I only need to do this 15 more times before I graduate.. oh lordy. lol.), but here are some changes I've made so far:

I use Google Calendar religiously. 

I did something really stupid that involved not using a planner, so now I'm obsessed with my gcal and I've got calendars for the following categories:
  • Class Schedule
  • Exams/Practicals
  • Study Time
  • Dental School Events (all things related to orgs/positions and other club activities)
  • Workout/Cooking
  • Personal (playdates with friends, birthdays, etc)

I work out at least 3x a week.

  • About 8-10 of my classmates and I do Insanity together now!! Isn't that cute? I wonder how long this will keep up.. lol. 

I bring meals from home at least 4x/week so I spend less $$'s on food. 

  • I'll (eventually) post meals that are super easy, that keep well during the week. 

I use flashcards (Anki is awesome)

  • I never did this before, but because dental school involves so much memorization, it just makes sense.. Traditional notes on paper just doesn't work sometimes because there's not enough time to get it all down, and then review them. 

I try to get in some personal space. 

  • If you had to describe me as a dog or a cat, I'd definitely say I'm a dog-person. I love being around people, but I realized this past quarter that with only 88 students in my class, and seeing everyone all the time, alone-time is essential to peace of mind. 
But let's be real, it's hard to get away when my classmates are so darn cute. So many things to do, so little time.

And so, I'll leave you with something a friend of mine said. He's pretty wise.

Wise Friend: Staying out of trouble?
Me: Doing a pretty good job of it actually. 
WF: Good.
M: I'm getting some pretty bad fomo (fear of missing out) though :( .. 

WF: lol, the world is missing out on you when you are not working on yourself
Anything worth doing is worth overdoing, and anything that isn't shouldn't matter.

Bravo, Wise Friend. Bravo.