Written by Jessica Wertz, D2 (c/o 2022) and 2nd generation Marquette Dental student
Dentistry is genetic, I’m fairly certain. Many students here (and at most dental schools) have a family member in the field, and the reasoning behind it is sound. They get the unique experience of experiencing first-hand the wonderful things that come with dentistry, as well as a heads up about those pesky not so great parts. Both of my parents decided to pursue a life in teeth decades ago and followed that dream right here at MUSoD. Flash forward over 25 years, and both my brother and I are living the dental dream. So, I maintain that dentistry is at least partly hereditary.
While some things never change, other things are a far cry from what they used to be. First and foremost, the physical location of the dental school has completely changed. Back in my parent’s day, dental students’ entire lives existed in Cramer Hall. For those unfamiliar, Cramer is the building where I lost years off of my life worrying about neurocranial anatomy exams and gross anatomy lab. Back in the day, the halls were filled with dental students decked out in suits and other forms of business casual. If you thought wearing business casual for the three days of orientation were rough, imagine long sim lab days trapped in khakis and a tie.
Another thing that did not exist the entire time my parents were in school but is still worth noting: restrictions on the elevators. Students had to carry all of their own instruments to clinic every day, a heavy affair, and the elevators were reserved for women and faculty only. The guys would have to carry their instruments up the stairs and back down every day (but at the very least they got their steps in).
Not only are the physical aspects of the school different, but the curriculum being taught has also advanced. Back in the old days everything was on paper and film. Axium and MiPacs were not even a consideration, and even having a computer in the operatory was a foreign concept. Digital dentistry, CAD/CAM and many of the everyday tech we use today were also nonexistent, which might not come as a surprise as technology in all aspects of life are advancing so fast. Aside from technology, there are also differences in general standard practices, and what is taught all together, for example: posterior composite restorations were not common practice in the least.
While some things may change, others stay the same. The treatment for decay and infection has stayed constant for ages. Doctors are still drilling into teeth just as they were in the past, although a more conservative approach is now utilized. The use of amalgam restorations is also a tried and true technique that continues to be taught and practiced, even though composite has grown in popularity. Another constant — the faculty teaching here. The same doctors I have grading my preps and projects were here during my parents’ time doing the same for them.
The stress and workload of dental school is another constant evil that has shaped the dental school experience and continues to carry through. Dental school did, and probably always will, suck in that regard. It is a demanding road now, and was a demanding path then. BUT! one thing that my parents found, and that I hope continues, is how the experiences and lessons they learned here at MUSoD prepared them for practicing after graduation, away from constant start checks and swipes. These lessons helped them not only survive, but thrive in the real world. I’ll have to let you know in a few years whether I feel the same.