Confessions of a Recovering Dentist
Confessions of a Recovering Dentist
After 10 years in practice, I was so burnt out that I could no longer practice dentistry. This blog shares my experiences to inspire other dentists to find career happiness-- whether in or out of dentistry.
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Confession #3: 10 Reasons Dental School Sucked

Confession #3: 10 Reasons Dental School Sucked

1/12/2021 9:43:55 AM   |   Comments: 0   |   Views: 15

As I look back on my journey into dentistry, dental school itself was the launchpad. 

As I sat down to write this post, I was surprised to find myself struggling to write about hating dental school. I know I hated a lot about it when I was there.  When I wrote the 10 Reasons I Loved Dental School, I found myself sifting through old photos and yearbooks, laughing, and feeling warm fuzzies.  It was easy to write about what I loved.  So I couldn’t wait to write about how much I hated it, thinking I would come up with some really rich material.  But when I sat down to write it, the fire wasn’t there, and it was much harder than I thought.  

Had the real world of dentistry been that unkind to me that it made me forget about the hardships of being a dental student? 


Many of the stories that I hated at the time made me laugh after being in practice.  Trust me.  I really hated dental school and all the things listed below, but sometimes I think our memory has a way of sugar-coating things.  That’s probably a good thing.  It’s probably why women choose to get pregnant again, miserable couples choose to get back together after a breakup, or on a whim we decide to have a few too many gin cocktails… again. (Or tequila.)  With that in mind, I might need some help on this one.  So please, add to the list and see if you can improve it with a few of your own.

10 Reasons Dental School Sucked

1) Tests.  We had at least 1 test everyday.  We had so many tests, that you couldn’t even study for a test a few days in advance.  We were too busy cramming for the test the next day to plan ahead.  Half the stuff we were learning had nothing to do with the practice of dentistry anyway.  It was just so we could pass the board exam and try to show the world that our school was the best.

2) Requirements.  Sometimes it would take me 3 hours to do 1 simple filling.  I didn’t have the luck that others had.  I often felt slighted because my patients’ fillings were always big and deep, and wrapped around the entire tooth.  My friends could get 3-4 fillings done in the same 3 hours because the fillings that were presented to them were small and shallow.  As far as required credits went, all fillings were created equal, regardless of difficulty.

3) Mean Teachers.  We’ve all had our share of them.  Mine was a certain female teacher my freshman year.  She deliberately would not come check my work in lab and would check everyone around me first, leaving me behind every time.  The minute I started being a bitch right back to her, she suddenly became nice.  Eventually, she acted like my BFF.  Not sure what that’s all about.  Maybe it was a sort of initiation to see if I was tough enough.  I did grow to like her though, despite her B.S.

4) More Nasty Teachers, or more specifically Oral Surgery Instructors.  These were some mean bastards.  They acted superior, treated the students with little respect, and always seemed very sexist.  One time I was punished by one of them for simply misunderstanding his instructions to me.  He tore me a new one and treated me like shit the whole rest of the year while he rubbed elbows with all of my male friends.  And he was supposed to be one of the cool ones.

5) Pervy teachers.  A few of my friends were put in some pretty uncomfortable positions (figuratively– at least, as far as I know) on a few occasions.  There was more than 1 story of the married man with kids commenting about my friend’s ass or a disguised grope or lingering hug.  It was enough to make us all cringe.  My pervy experience came from a teacher who I thought was a role model and a good friend, but at least he waited until after graduation.  Despite the fact that he respected his boundaries while we were in school, it was still creepy and disappointing, shattering any respect I had for him.

6) Dental school wasn’t college.  In college we spent about 3-4 hours a day in class and the rest was free time.  Dental school was an 8-hour day, leaving just enough time for dinner, followed by an evening of studying for several hours for the 1 or 2 tests scheduled the following day.   It really was all dentistry all of the time.

7) Practicing a new skill on another human being.  I know there is no other way to do this, but it was scary.  Luckily, most of us were so careful that we didn’t do any harm.

8) Boards Part 1.  This standardized written exam after first year was bogus.  Being tested on relevant topics like Histology that we were sure to use all throughout practice was a productive use of our time.  I’m glad we learned those things instead of something as useless as Practice Management.

9) Boards Part 2.  I can’t even remember Part 2 because I think I was so terrified for the Clinical Board Exam.  Those were hellish.  It was a subjective test that one could fail if their patient didn’t even show up.  We had to convince our patients to dedicate their whole weekend to us, all for a free filling or 2.  As incentive, we were basically forced to pay our patients to come and get free dental work.  Some people had to bribe patients or even drive for hours to pick them up in order to ensure that they arrived.  A classmate and I actually flew 2 patients from Dallas to Denver and put them up in hotel rooms for the weekend.   One guy spent a bunch of (our) money on pay-per-view porn in his hotel room.  Way to be an ass and take advantage of a struggling student.

10) Lab work.  After an 8-hour day of classes and clinic, and entire evenings studying, we then had to do our own lab work.  Whether it was waxing crowns or building dentures, it was enough to drive this dental geek insane.

Now it’s your turn.  I know there is some good stuff out there, so please help!

What did you hate about dental school?

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