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Heart your Smile - Dental charity
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A week in the life of Lee Feinberg

A 4th year Dental Student and President of the BDSA.


Day 1:

Hi, my name is Lee and I’m a 4th year, nearly 5th year dental student studying in Bristol. I’m also the president of the British Dental Students Association (BDSA) and coming to the end of my year as the president of Bristol Dental Students’ Society. I first became involved in ‘Heart Your Smile’ when I heard two great talks from James Goolnik and Seema Sharma at the BDSA Conference, and I’ve since helped to promote Heart Your Smile’s positive messages at the BDA Conference and Dentistry Live.

Today has been a relatively laid back day for me. On a Monday, my time is usually split between treating my own patients on the restorative clinics, or seeing patients on various consultant clinics. However, every so often, we are lucky enough to get a day off! Today was one of those days, and so I decided to stay an extra day at home in London. After a busy weekend with a friend’s 22nd birthday on Saturday and Father’s day yesterday, what I really needed was a good lie in. Despite this, I was up bright and early as I wanted to take my grandma for an appointment at the hospital. As a future dentist, it is always interesting to see other clinicians at work. My grandma’s kidney doctor reminded me how important communication skills are as a clinician, she definitely fulfilled some of the 9 habits on ‘Heart your Smile’s’ manifesto.

At 2 o’clock, I caught the train back to Bristol from Paddington. Once back in Bristol, I popped into the dental hospital for half an hour to sort out some patient admin bits for next week, before heading back to my flat to catch up with my four housemates, who are also dental students. After the weekend I felt like it was probably a good idea to get some exercise in, so I paid a visit to the gym, where, rather conveniently I bumped into our society’s charity rep, who updated me on the plans for the charity auction we are hosting on Friday. Now time for bed and a good night sleep in preparation for a day of dentistry tomorrow.


Day 2:

I had a really interesting day today; I spent the day shadowing our professor of periodontics in Bristol. I picked up some really useful tips about how to motivate patients to look after their teeth, and their smile.

It was also great to see some Perio and Implant surgery. Although we have learnt lots about this area of dentistry from lectures and textbooks, I always think the best way to learn is by seeing something or doing it yourself.

As it was such a nice sunny day today, a few of us decided to go for a quick drink after clinics, before heading off home to support England!


Day 3:

Usually a Wednesday morning would consist of a series of lectures, followed by the afternoon off, as Wednesday afternoon is kept clear for sports matches.

As it is nearing the end of term, and our 4th year exams are out of the way, we didn’t actually have any lectures this morning. Despite this, I had to make a brief trip to the dental hospital, to do some filming for an open day video. Although all our exams are over, most of us are still busy at work sorting out our research projects that we are expected to do over the summer period. Therefore, James (who I am doing my project with) and I decided to make the most of our free afternoon by finishing off the data collection for our project. Entering 700 plus surveys into a spreadsheet is not going to be fun!

We are looking at the usage of dental services by University of Bristol students, and investigating any barriers they face when trying to access these services. We think the student population is a really interesting one, as it is a time of great change; students gain independence, enter a new social environment and often experience behavioural changes. On top of this, the most recent adult dental health survey reported that 16-24 year olds are the most likely age group to be affected by dental anxiety. We are hoping that the insight we gain from our project will have the possibility of improving provision, and access to dental services for students.


Day 5:

Today was paeds and ortho day, treating paediatric patients is a great way to finish off the week. A lot of the children that we treat are referred into the hospital as they are patients that are difficult to manage in practice, therefore it can be hard work but is extremely rewarding. A young boy that I treat has gone from refusing to open his mouth and crying when he enters the clinic, to happily sitting in the chair for treatment. Treating paeds patients has highlighted to me, the importance of building a rapport with your patients. Orthodontics is great too, were really luckily in Bristol as we get to treat our own ortho patients from start to finish.

Tonight is the charity slave auction at the dental school (the dress code is “TOWIE”), staff and students auction off their services. There are some first-class lots up for grabs, ranging from a private flight in a small aircraft, to all your washing and ironing being done. Last year we raised over £2000, and we hope to top that this year. All money raised will be split between Dentaid and our exchange programme with Hanover dental school.