June 27, 2023 | Downers Grove, IL
High school students attended the Pathways to Dentistry, a dental student camp offered by the College of Dental Medicine – Illinois (CDMI) in conjunction with Comfort Dental Studio in Chicago under the direction of Lawrence White D.M.D. Dr. White said this program was a way to bring historically underrepresented students into the field of dentistry.
“I’m learning a lot about dentistry,” said Christopher Copeland, a sophomore at Whitney M. Young Magnet High School in Chicago. “It was cool to expand my horizons.”
Alexander Ortiz, a junior at Benito Juarez High School, enjoyed his experience, especially placing the light to see the inside of a patient’s mouth and putting in the fillings.
Hal Haering, D.M.D., Dean of CDMI, welcomed the students, explaining that this experience with CDMI was something for the students to put on their future resume, and he thanked the students for attending. “You took time out of your summer to see what we’re doing.”
Robert Iacobelli, (CDMI ’26) and beginning his second year of dental school, said to the students, “You’re getting a look at what we do in our first year of dental school.” Robert guided the students with using wax and showed them how to drill and fill cavities in molar and bicuspid teeth. Dental students in their first year of studies learn to make teeth from wax, but in this session they practiced using the wax.
“It is extremely important for the high school students to visualize people a little bit closer in age, see them in a field they want to go into, someone to look up to, and see it can be a lot of fun,” Robert said adding the sessions show “every side of dentistry and a glimpse into what they could be doing.” “I think this is really important, especially for areas that might not get access to be able to see this side of dentistry.” He added he did not have this type of experience as a high school student.
Faris Ziyad (CDMI ’26) added there are different paths of dentistry for students. He said this program helps the next wave of college students where great future dentists would come up. Faris also expressed his interest in 3D printing.
Larry Williams, D.D.S., M.P.H., Professor, CDMI, led the session on anesthesia. Participants in the program were taught how to put a syringe together, as a dentist would in order to prepare for an anesthesia injection, using four-handed dentistry, where a dental team works together for the best patient care. While working with a safety needle, students were taught that putting the syringe together is not intuitive, and that it takes time to learn how to do it.
“I really like the hands-on experience,” said Kai White, a freshman at Morgan Park Academy. She added the sessions allowed for creativity and learning new techniques.
Jeff Wascher, D.D.S., Assistant Professor of CDMI, assisted a student with a lab on the Downers Grove Campus of Midwestern University.
The high school students also learned about endodontics, the branch of dentistry focusing on dental pulp and tissues that surround the tooth’s roots. One commonly known endodontic treatment is a root canal. Students discovered more information about drilling and placing veneers, thin coverings that are put over the tooth to look like a natural tooth. Students were also exposed to full-arch maxillary impressions, which are imprints of the teeth, gums, and the other oral structures to make a model of the patient’s mouth.
The D.M.D. (Doctor of Dental Medicine) degree in Downers Grove and Glendale offers students classroom and clinic experience with the benefits of a technology-rich environment and being part of team offering comprehensive oral care to patients.