I was a stubborn and rebellious child who preferred to learn things the hard way. When my parents instructed me to turn right, I often turned left. When my prosthodontist father suggested that I go to dental school, I said, “no way!” My dad often returned home smelling like intermediate restorative material and I didn’t like the odor.
I never considered dentistry until after college, when I participated in a two-week humanitarian mission aboard the U.S. Navy hospital ship Mercy. It was an incredible, life-changing experience that sparked my interest in dentistry. However, I still explored a career in sales and marketing for two years before making my decision to go to dental school.
Not surprisingly, I took an unconventional path of going to the Philippines for dental school. Currently, I am attending the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine as an international dental student and I will be graduating this December.
“You don’t know what you don’t know.” There have never been truer words of wisdom. Sometimes I wish I realized earlier in my life how versatile, unique and fun dentistry truly is, but I am thankful to have found an occupation that I enjoy. The best part of dentistry is that the more I learn, the more there is to know. Especially with the continuous advancements in dental technologies, it is an exciting time to be a clinician.
Lots of things are changing in the world of dentistry. DSOs are growing at a rapid pace, advancements in digital dentistry is changing the way we practice and doctors are connecting with patients through social media. The internet is revolutionizing the way we consume information. In the ’90s people used Yellow Pages, then Google changed our lives. Now social media is changing the way people search for services and products.
Those who understand social media are already using it to their advantage. After reading “Crushing It!” by Gary Vaynerchuk, I was inspired to start my own dentistry Instagram account. Thanks to Instagram, I have connected with many people in the industry, with Spear Education, and with mentors and friends who share my interest in dentistry. I also use my social media to give advice to pre-dental students and international dentists.
Dental school can be challenging and stressful. As dental students, we face never-ending exams and the struggle to fulfill clinical requirements through the tedious process of waiting in line for faculty approval swipes in between treatments. Before graduation, we must face the grand finale: the wonderfully stressful licensure examination. These are all reasons for the excitement and anxiety of counting down the days until graduation. However, wise students will recognize that graduation is only the beginning of our education and career.
Recently at a social event for new dentists, I met a dentist who was a year out of dental school, working as an associate at a local private practice. He confidently told me that he is doing a full-mouth rehabilitation case after watching older Spear continuing education videos. Initially, I was glad he was at least watching the Spear content, but I was taken aback by his confidence when he admitted he had never used facebows in dental school. His confidence was unexpected.
As an international dental student going through dental school, essentially for the second time, I find myself becoming humbler and almost fearful as I realize that the more I learn, the less I know. Our profession should not be taken lightly and even the most astute dental student should formulate a plan for continued education to grow towards our clinical goals.
It is the responsibility of the new generation of dentists to spread accurate information and continue to educate ourselves for the betterment of the profession. It is important for new dentists to take leadership roles in our local communities in order to create a positive and open environment not only to further our profession, but to provide the best treatment for our patients.
Less than 40% of the U.S. population go to the dentist in a given year and dentistry has historically struggled to create excitement about oral health care. However, as a new dentist, I am optimistic about the future of dentistry. More than ever, dentists are now able to equip themselves with tools such as social media to spread oral health education and utilize new dental technology, such as 3D printing, to create excitement and efficiency in our clinical practice.
Postgrad CE is essential. The confident new dentist performing a full-mouth rehab is comparable to a tadpole jumping into the ocean. This is why dentists must adopt the growth mindset and find institutions like Spear to drive for excellence. Beginning our education early in our career is the key to maximizing our return on investment.
Discovering Spear has changed my perspective on my career and ignited my clinical ambition. The online CE lectures by Spear faculty members, such as Drs. Frank Spear and Ricardo Mitrani, and practice management expert Imtiaz Manji, opened a world of engaging lectures full of contagious passion.
Spear Online discount for dental students, recent grads
Dental students and recent graduates can get a discounted Spear Online subscription by using my promo code ‘CHOI.’
For dental students looking to supplement their education with Spear Online CE, the material related to occlusion in clinical practice has helped me tremendously.
Occlusion is a controversial topic and you might be confused about the various opinions. In various courses and videos, Spear faculty explain occlusion in an unbiased and practical manner that is straightforward and easy to understand. You can use this content to supplement your dental school curriculum and understand occlusion in a new perspective.
Meanwhile, Spear Online membership provides you with access to a wide variety of content related to improving patient communication and increasing case acceptance. lessons can be utilized and implemented into your dental school clinic, improving patient communication and creating great habits. Concepts such as co-diagnosis can help treatment plan acceptance, even as a dental student.
Best of all, applying what you learn and seeing it happen is the perfect way to grasp and master concepts.
Andrew Choi, D.D.S., is a contributor to Spear Digest. Follow him on Instagram @smile4choidds.