Last Updated on June 27, 2022 by Laura Turner
This article is reprinted with permission from the American Student Dental Association. It originally appeared in June 2013 in mouthing off, The Blog of the ASDA.
As far as career choices go, dentistry has only recently come into my life. As a boy I wanted to be Batman, but over time I realized I wouldn’t have sufficient funds to run my evening escapades (not to mention, keep up the daytime billionaire guise). Then I settled upon engineering. Through engineering, I discovered my true passion for crafting and restoring balance in people’s lives. It was my desire to create that motivated me to make a life changing decision to pursue dentistry.
Following my graduation from the college of engineering at the University of Florida I enrolled in the college of science at the Florida Atlantic University. My objective was to gain a better understanding of the life sciences and engage in dental-related activities. It was at FAU where I encountered the most influential predental experience through a ten week introduction-to-dentistry course. The course featured six sessions of restorative dentistry followed by four sessions of dental specialties; all taught by a distinguished alumni and local dentist, Dr. Gerard Cuomo.
Dr. Cuomo coached the class in the essentials of instrumentation, bur usage, oral anatomy, dental materials and clinical procedures in dentistry. His interactive approach allowed me to grasp the art accompanying the profession of dentistry. I learned firsthand the techniques of class I, II, and V preparations on premolar and molar teeth. These preparations were followed by hands-on lessons in composite fillings, alginate impressions and stone model workup. The class finished the restorative sessions with a temporary crown fabrication on a prepared molar tooth. The principles of contact, depth, margins and occlusion were reinforced through Dr. Cuomo’s detailed instructions along with the aid of a dental microscope.
Subsequent sessions introduced endodontics, orthodontics, pediatrics, periodontics, oral surgery and dental photography. By delving into dental specialties I obtained a heightened sense of the role specialist play in the collaborative field of dentistry. Furthermore, Dr. Cuomo facilitated our learning by incorporating clinical scenarios, like diastemas and internal resorption, to provide a holistic point of view as the class progressed. My favorite sessions included orthodontic wire bending and basic suturing; the latter involved use of a hot dog to mimic mucosal tissue found in the mouth.
With each session I attained an enriched comprehension of dentistry. We learned that dentistry is not only identifying and mitigating oral disease and restoring oral health, but is also about educating and developing a genuine compassion for people. Dr. Cuomo’s altruistic desire to educate students through his show, tell, and do methodology has reaffirmed my desire to seek a career as a dentist. Gone are the days of my knightly peril and TI-83 calculations. Here come the days of patient-centered care and my lifelong commitment to oral health.
The course is open to all students; not only those who attend FAU. For more information on the course and on how you can enroll please contact Dr. Gerard Cuomo at [email protected] What is your most influential pre-dental experience? Share in the comments below!