“I hate dentists!” is a comment we’ve all heard a thousand times. So why would anyone want to do dentistry?
This was a thought that had crossed my mind several times during work experience at a dental practice to help support my application to dental school. However, ultimately, several reasons overrode those negative aspects for me, and this is why I chose to be a dentist.
The BDS undergraduate dentistry degree in the UK is a 5-year programme that presents various challenges and rewards along the way. The most compelling reason why I continue to enjoy dentistry every single day is the privilege of helping another person, in often a life-changing way. Preventative dentistry encompasses a large part of the role of a dentist and involves educating patients to motivate and inspire them to look after their oral health. If you enjoy immersing yourself in a vibrant and diverse community of people, then dentistry will put you at the heart of that.
Oral health combines the unique aspects of function, health, and aesthetics; teeth are often what we notice first in another individual. This makes dentistry an incredibly interesting subject with several components to always consider when treating a patient. It really does show what you can do with a dental degree! The vast range of treatments that a dentist can carry out on a day-to-day basis still amazes me: from simple fillings to more complex root canal treatments and even placing implants. In this way, to me, a dentist is also a surgeon.
A lot of people compare a dentistry course and medicine, and they do possess many similarities, but dentists pave the way in combining healthcare, business, art, manual dexterity and continuity of patient care. These are all reasons that excited me to step into a profession that is ever-evolving, and patient-centred. As well as this, dentists apply sound knowledge in science to every decision made, making sure to utilise evidence-based research and guidelines to dictate treatment planning. As someone that always enjoyed sciences at school, I knew I wanted to combine this in my future career.
Some may see dentistry as a narrow field; however, this could not be further from the truth. Thirteen specialist lists exist on the GDC website including areas such as oral surgery, periodontics, endodontics, and restorative dentistry. Career progression and choices are plentiful, allowing you to be the type of dentist that you want.
At dental school studying for a dental degree, you will not only progress in your practical skills to treat patients but also cover the supporting theory in many different subject areas. A dentistry course is designed to make you a confident and compassionate clinician, aligning with the General Dental Council (GDC) values. If you are someone that thrives in a leadership position but also works well as a team, dentistry is a great option for you.
Being a dental student itself is also incredibly rewarding as you get given a huge amount of responsibility. You will have patients directly under your care with supervision from tutors and provide numerous treatments such as crowns, restorations, and dentures. Although it can be frustrating in the beginning when faced with a large amount of content to learn and difficult practical sessions, there is plenty of time to improve over the five years. Dentistry really does provide a stimulating, challenging and scientifically advancing career with the opportunity to work with people, learn for life, and maintain a good work-life balance. This is why I chose to be a dentist.
For further reasons to choose dentistry as a career, check out RainaOnTheCusp‘s YouTube channel.
We live in a digital age where technology serves as one of the most powerful commodities around. With smartphones at the fingertips of students, utilising them to enhance our experience when learning has never been more important. I have compiled apps I use on a near-daily basis that add value in many different ways, equipping me to seek more satisfaction out of my studies and become a better dentist. Whilst there is a whole bunch of apps and software suitable for those with tablets/laptops, I have concentrated on the best apps for dental students through the use of their smartphones.
There is no better way to start a list of the top mobile apps for dental students without this must-have. Immersify is a dentistry education platform that combines accessible technology with expert content, 3D visuals and interactivity to create a one-of-a-kind resource for the modern dental student. It uniquely uses augmented reality with interactive, intricate, anatomical and realistic models, layered into your own room for learning. It’s packed full of engaging games and dental study resources designed to reinforce key dental topics; with a wide scope of content, you can learn beginner through to advanced dentistry. For instance, you can learn Dental Charting through their ‘Chartistry’ practical, or tooth morphology with voice-over lessons to the intricacies of endodontics. This dental application provides dental students with the comprehensive knowledge they need for their professional career.
With limited clinical time lately, supplementing and enhancing my understanding and practice using the Immersify app really does cement crucial dental concepts and bridges the gap between textbook learning and real world experiences. The best part is it’s completely free and supported by a huge host of ambassadors and a dedicated team of content creators growing it at an astronomical rate.
You can download the Immersify app for free at:
Spotify – Podcasts
Spotify isn’t just the supreme music streaming platform service (sorry Apple Music fans ), but it has an incredibly vast selection of podcasts ready for on the go listening. Podcasts are accessible and a memorable way to learn new information. As dental students, we are already spending huge amounts of time on our computers, reading textbooks or writing notes. Changing up the ways we consume information means we are actively learning content rather than passively.
There are some great podcasts that provide an insight into dentistry as a career – my current favourites are ‘Protrusive Dental’ podcast by Jaz Gulati and ‘Dental Leaders’ podcast by Prav Solanki and Payman Langroudi. When I want to wind down or listen to something to take my mind away from studies, there are podcasts covering absolutely anything and everything you could think of. Spotify has a free service, but a premium one with a few different payment options with student rates.
Out of all of the note-taking apps out there, Notion is my go-to. The platform provides an easy-to-use and friendly interface, but don’t mistake this for meaning that there is a lack of features! Notion is brilliant for timetabling and managing various projects, and I have found a huge benefit to using it outside of my studies as well. I have been making a conscious effort to switch from paper notes to electronic notes, and Notion is super streamlined, especially with the use of a ‘toggle’ feature. It is easy to organise notes and know where to go to find specific content, even if I studied it in previous years. Creating an interactive to-do list has helped me to keep on top of all my priorities, as well as keep balance in my dental student lifestyle. Notion makes organising your classes and lectures an easier process. Notion has a range of different paid options, so definitely check them out if interested.
Forest App (Flora)
We all know phones are addictive, distracting and a great way to derail your study time. That’s why no list of “The best apps for dental students” can go without one of these. The Forest app is a fun method to help you beat your phone addiction and overcome distraction. An added benefit, it helps to reduce your screen time.
The app rewards you for leaving your phone alone, allowing you to stay focused on more important (and mentally taxing) tasks, for example when studying human diseases. Forest also tracks your focused moments, building up a reservoir of good habits and willpower that you can use to beat procrastination and get through the challenge of studying for dental school successfully. It works by planting a virtual tree that will die if you spend too much time procrastinating.
I’ve used it countless times to help me stay focused on assignments, or even just to force myself off my phone. You can even join a room with others you know to plant trees and keep each other motivated. If you rally up enough hours, you can even cash in your points for a real-life tree planted! While you have to pay £1.99 for Forest, Flora offers a similar service and is free.
If you’re a flashcard type learner, then this is a must-have. I have lost count of the endless number of flashcards I have used over my educational journey, and it can feel like a nightmare to misplace a card or to have to keep them together over your degree. This is where Anki is great – everything I need is on one platform. If you have never used flashcards before, the spaced-repetition technique it offers aids fast and long-lasting memorisation. Anki utilises this technique and helps to break down large modules into digestible material. Whilst it is free for computers/laptops, it does charge for smartphone usage.
With a wide variety of apps out there, you are sure to find something to aid your studies. From experience, I’ve found that I get the best use out of apps that allow me to better my practise of dentistry, as well as strike balance with my student lifestyle. These apps are just to name a few, but I am always up for suggestions! Let me know how you find these.
University has a bit of a reputation as being the time we can ‘find ourselves’, explore new places, discover our passions, jump outside our comfort zones, and the list of sayings goes on. Three years ago, 18-year old Anusha would have eye-rolled if anyone said those things to me. I was very much the sort to think: “I’m going to London to study Dentistry so that I can come back and be a Dentist in Singapore, what more is there to it?”. That part is true – attending lectures and studying in the library wasn’t so different from all the studying we had to do in school. But looking back, I realise it’s about all the other things associated with our time at university – it’s the increased freedom to have new experiences in life that gives this period it’s well-deserved reputation.
Being an international student, in my opinion, takes this experience to a whole other level. For most, coming to university was new because it wasn’t school, but for me, the university was new because it was in a whole other country.
Some aspects were the same as anyone else starting university – I figured out how to study independently, I made new friends and got involved in student activity groups. And, like anyone living away from home, I learnt to cook, do laundry, set up direct debits and all that. But I do think, being a 13-hour flight from home and in a different time zone to my family and school friends meant there was an added layer. Small things were different – the mannerisms of people, the currency, the accents, the deafening tubes, the way Sainsbury’s in London is somehow so different to Fairprice in Singapore even though they’re both grocery stores. It was these tiny things that in reality didn’t matter but still made me feel like I stood slightly apart from everyone else.
I felt a little more alone and thought I didn’t have the same security blanket as anyone who was living in a country they’ve grown up in.
Now I should say I spent 5 years in London as a child and with English being my first language and having a mixed British-Indian accent, in some ways, it was easy for me to adjust to the move. But it turned out, ten years in Singapore was a long time and was enough to make me feel like I was in a new place again. Three years later, my friends still laugh when I say “pants” instead of “trousers” and I’m still wrapping my head around some of the slang – I will internally cringe when I hear someone say “peak”, but the occasional “innit” might slip my tongue. Also, people don’t realise I’m
an international student; most think I’m from London – I suppose I fit in well, especially in a course that is full of South Asians. But truthfully I do feel different. I am a third culture kid – I grew up away from India, I have a Singaporean passport but attended an international school. My identity is
made-up by the fact that I lived in five different countries, attended eight schools and have lived in more houses than I can be bothered to count. I suppose I now feel at home anywhere I go as long as I find a community, a group of wonderful friends and a purpose. The reason I’m bringing this up is this has affected my outlook – perhaps someone who grew up in Singapore their entire life has had an entirely different experience of being an international student in the UK than I have.
The big question I get when people find out I’m not from the UK is: Where do you want to practice?
Even before I started the course, my friends and family back home would ask if I’ll come back to Singapore after university. Out of my immense love for the life-style in Singapore, I replied with naive certainty that I would indeed return as soon as my degree ended, despite not actually having
stepped foot in London yet. I continued to receive these questions from fellow students, and in those early months of university, I still responded with “Singapore for sure”. However, as time passed, I grew less certain and wasn’t so sure what I wanted anymore. After three fabulous years of living in London, I’ve made friends I would hate to leave and my little, cluttered flat in Elephant in Castle has become my second home. Singapore might have been the country I grew up in for 10 years, but London is the city that I have grown into my own person. I know that decision, ‘London or
Singapore?’, is going to depend on a multitude of factors external to Dentistry and I am excited to see where I’ll end up – maybe even somewhere else entirely, who knows! But for now, when I get asked “Where will you settle down after university”, I respond with a little shrug of my shoulders and two words: “We’ll see”.
Harnessing the power of digital technology has the potential to revolutionise the dental learning experience. Dentistry is a constantly evolving and practical-based field, so why do many dental undergraduates still rely on traditional lecture-based and out-dated textbook learning? Today, technology is playing an increasingly significant role in our lives, and it will only be a matter of time before the learning experience of dental students also transitions to technology-based. Particularly in the area of augmented reality (AR), there is huge potential to develop dental learning and study resources to benefit tomorrow’s dentists.
Immersify Education utilises technology to achieve exactly this principle: the idea behind their resources is to ‘bridge the gap between theoretical and practical learning’, offering students a bespoke learning experience featuring expert content curated by dentists, AR, gamification and personalised learning. (1) The information on the Immersify app is ‘standardised with university curriculums’, distinguishing it from other sources of dental information and (2) based on pilot studies (1) involving eight different universities:
100% of respondents would recommend this dental application to a Dentistry student, 82% would be influenced to attend a university by the technology demonstrated at an open day, and 2/3 students would prefer access to the application over being given a free textbook.
This offers a very promising insight into the demand by dental students for innovative and modernised learning; which can be achieved through incorporating the latest technology in dentistry.
Currently, at dental school, tooth morphology is traditionally taught through lectures, wax tooth carving and observation of preserved teeth. (3) Although lectures have their benefits, they often lack interactivity and present a one-sided learning experience for students. (4) During wax tooth carving, more focus is placed on carving the crowns, with less of a focus on the root morphology, as it has been suggested that carving roots does not contribute to the overall understanding of dental anatomy. (5) However, learning the roots is equally important, since these are the main focus for endodontics and complex extractions. (6) The final common option of learning tooth morphology is via observation of preserved teeth, which seemingly overcomes the issues described previously. However, there is often difficulty in obtaining suitable ‘well-preserved human teeth’ for observation, meaning that dental students may end up learning via non-anatomically correct models. (7) Moreover, this 3D observation can only take place within the dental school environment so students may have limited time to explore the teeth.
In contrast, the Immersify app allows dental students to learn through their cutting-edge augmented reality (AR) technology. Students are now able to explore 3D tooth morphology in their own time, at their own pace and revisit this learning as often as they would like. Each entire tooth (crown and root) can be explored in the app whilst simultaneously described by a professional dental voice-over. (2) The AR technology also means that the teeth can be projected in a real-world environment, on any surface. There’s something special about seeing a giant 3D molar floating in your home!
Immersify Education includes an element of competitive gamification, which creates an ‘intrinsically motivating’ learning experience for dental students. (8) The Immersify app offers students the chance to compete internationally with other users and ranks them on leaderboards. (9) This principle of engagement via gamification is also utilised in many other successful educational apps and offers a fun, contemporary, and engaging way of learning. (10) Research published in the BMC Medical Education journal (11) found that dental students’ use of gamification apps to learn histology increased their motivation and interest. Immersify offers games on a variety of topics such as tooth identification and dental anatomy, with many others on dental charting and dexterity target practice being released soon (12).
Immersify Education offers students an interactive learning experience that is crucially individually tailored to them. (13) Research from the British Dental Journal (14) suggests that personalised learning focused on the student’s learning rather than the content and method of delivery allows students to retain more information. It is proposed that ‘pedagogically driven e-learning’ is the key to good quality dental training. (15) The algorithm used by Immersify Education tackles problem areas by providing tailored feedback for students. (9) For instance, during their teeth identification quiz, answers that are incorrect will be noted and fully explained to students at the end, featuring top tips on how to correctly identify the teeth next time. (12) Moreover, the use of quizzes has been shown to enable a deeper level of information processing when contrasted with other learning methods. (16) It is especially important in dentistry to have a comprehensive and critical understanding of topics in order to make well-considered clinical decisions (17).
Immersify Education’s mobile platform is much easier to update compared to traditional published material such as textbooks, allowing the rapid inclusivity of new research and advancements in learning. This gives students the confidence that they are learning the most up-to-date dental material.
Another advantage of the Immersify app is that it will offer a multi-lingual learning resource, suited for the learning of international dental students. (18) Research from the Journal of Dental Education (19) suggests that comprehension of the English Language can be ‘the most significant barrier’ perceived by international dental students to hold them back from academic success. Translated pilots of the app have been developed in French and German, with other languages being incorporated in the near future (1).
Immersify offers students the perfect blend of AR, gamification, personalised learning, audio voiceover and interactivity to suit their learning needs. In the future, digital technology will play an increasingly important role in dental education as the delivery of teaching races to keep up with the modern-day student. The futuristic and stimulating learning experience designed by Immersify Education looks to disrupt the traditional didactic teaching method. By providing a quality learning experience that uses the latest technology, Immersify is a trailblazer for the future of dental learning and is exactly what this generation of dental students is searching for.
- Boardman M. R.E: Student Essay Immersify Education Overview ed2020.
- Education I. [Available from: https://immersifyeducation.com/.
- Kellesarian SV. Flipping the Dental Anatomy Classroom. Dent J (Basel). 2018;6(3):23.
- Al-Thobity AM, Farooq I, Khan SQ. Effect of software facilitated teaching on final grades of dental students in a dental morphology course. Saudi Med J. 2017;38(2):192-5.
- Nayak M, Sahni P, Singhvi A, Singh A. The perceived relevance of tooth carving in dental education: Views of practicing dentists and faculty in West India. Education for Health. 2014;27(3):238-42.
- Migliau G, Pepla E, Besharat LK, Gallottini L. Resolution of endodontic issues linked to complex anatomy. Ann Stomatol (Roma). 2014;5(1):34-40.
- Obrez A, Briggs C, Buckman J, Goldstein L, Lamb C, Knight W. Teaching clinically relevant dental anatomy in the dental curriculum: Description and assessment of an innovative module. Journal of dental education. 2011;75:797-804.
- Peirce N, Conlan O, Wade V, editors. Adaptive Educational Games: Providing Non-invasive Personalised Learning Experiences. 2008 Second IEEE International Conference on Digital Game and Intelligent Toy Enhanced Learning; 2008 17-19 Nov. 2008.
- Immersify_Ed. Check our latest video to see some of the great features the #ImmersifyDentalApp has to offer! Get your devices ready for tomorrow. . In: @Immersify_Ed, editor.: Instagram; 2020.
- Khaddage F, Lattemann C, Acosta-Díaz R, editors. Mobile gamification in education engage, educate and entertain via gamified mobile apps. Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference; 2014: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).
- Felszeghy S, Pasonen-Seppänen S, Koskela A, Nieminen P, Härkönen K, Paldanius KMA, et al. Using online game-based platforms to improve student performance and engagement in histology teaching. BMC Medical Education. 2019;19(1):273.
- Ltd IE. Immersify Dental. 2020.
- Invest N. Immersify Education 2020 [Available from: https://northinvest.co.uk/immersify-education/.
- Sweet J, Wilson J, Pugsley L. Educational innovations for dentistry. British Dental Journal. 2009;206(1):29-34.
- Reynolds PA. Do we need ‘e’ in learning? British Dental Journal. 2005;199(5):5-6.
- Collins DP, Rasco D, Benassi VA. Test-Enhanced Learning:Does Deeper Processing on Quizzes Benefit Exam Performance? Teaching of Psychology. 2018;45(3):235-8.
- Anthony L, Latt S, Afrose T, Khaing I. Preferred Teaching Methods by Medical and Dental Students of a Private University: The Students’ Perception. 2018;Volume 6:106-11.
- Bissett J. Tech-savvy dental nurse designs 3D dentistry tool 2018 [Available from: https://www.dental-nursing.co.uk/news/tech-savvy-dental-nurse-designs-3d-dentistry-tool.
- Jenkins SJ, Boyd LD. Perceived Barriers to Academic Success for International Students Studying Dental Hygiene in the U.S. Journal of Dental Education. 2019:JDE.019.163.
Immersify Dental is an application that is built with the dental community in mind: therefore, everything Immersify Education does is dental student and dental professional lead. Our Community Programme was designed to support all the different dentistry qualifications including BDS students, Dental hygiene and therapy, Dental nurses and qualified dental professionals to build a network where they can contribute to developing better resources for their education and training, and connect with fellow colleagues and renowned academics to build a strong network that supports their dental journey. To achieve this, the Immersify Dental Community program is structured as follows:
Members: This role is ideal for anyone who wishes to know more about what Immersify Education does. Members will receive bi-monthly newsletters with information about the Immersify Dental app and some dentistry-related content. Members will also get early access to online and offline events. To become a member, please fill the Immersify Dental Members form.
Advocates: These are individuals who use Immersify Dental regularly, are enthusiastic about the app and are keen in working to spread the word about the benefits of this application for dentistry students. They will actively support the community by providing innovative ideas and propositions and giving their feedback on new topics released on the app. Advocates will have Free admittance to Immersify’s Dental Student Events and will also be supported by sharing their relevant posts on Immersify Education social media. They will also be given the opportunity to become an Ambassador or Innovator when the next phase of applications is open. Please fill in the Immersify Dental Advocate form to apply for this position and join the Immersify team.
Ambassadors and Innovators: University BDS or BSc students, dental nurses or recently qualified dentists or hygienists who actively use Immersify Dental and who positively represent Immersify Education’s values and culture on social and public channels, both online and offline. Both of them support Immersify Education by promoting connections between the organisation and their university and by providing feedback and suggestions on the Immersify Education app. Each Ambassador and Innovator has remunerated consultancy hours and will be given the opportunity to participate in events and meetings that will allow them to expand their dental network.
- Ambassadors: They have strong communication skills, and ideally, have an active social media channel dedicated to dentistry related issues. Ambassadors will have the opportunity to contribute with social media content and can create blog posts, YouTube videos and different material to communicate the benefits of the Immersify Dental app as a tool to support dental students and professionals.
- Innovators: They have the ability to share their views in a distinctive way. Innovators support the development of the Immersify Dental App in relation to the technological aspects of it by participating in testing, focus groups and ideation sessions.
Champions: This position is set for outstanding Innovators and Ambassadors, committed to supporting the Immersify Dental Community in the long term. They should have demonstrated professionalism, commitment, and dedication as Dental Ambassadors and Innovators and drive to go the extra mile. Each Champion will represent a region in the UK; they will be entitled to more consultancy hours, extra PR opportunities within the community and they will have a dedicated section in the Immersify Education website. Additionally, the organisation will contribute to one online training course that helps Champions to gain a deep understanding of a specific issue they are interested in, this can be related to dentistry or technology.
We believe in the power of achieving things together; for us, the Immersify Dental Community is one of the most important elements of our organisation and we are always looking forward to welcoming more people to the team. What are you waiting for?
- The Ultimate Guide for our Educators: Making the most out of the Immersify Platform
- [Case Study] An Immersifyer achieved the top grade with Immersify
- How to use Immersify: The Ultimate Features Guide
- Dentistry Teaching Methods 2022: The importance of understanding learner trends and patient needs
- How can I become the best dental professional? Welcome Immersify Premium