Students practice skills at Pre-Dental Day

Madison Hull practices drilling and filling a cavity during Dental Day.

A group of Radford University students -- all interested in the dentistry profession – got a formal introduction to the field last month.

Members of the Pre-Dental Club traveled to the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) on Oct. 21-22 to participate in the annual Pre-Dental Day, sponsored by the medical university's chapter of the American Student Dental Association (ASDA).

At MUSC, located in Charleston, Radford students toured and learned more about the campus, met with faculty and students and sat in on a presentation about cavities. The event concluded with two activities: waxing a tooth and drilling and filling a cavity.

Club Vice President Rebecca Sandlin called the experience "invaluable."

"We were given a fake mouth to practice drilling on with a hand piece, and then we filled our cleaned tooth with amalgam, a mercury mixture sometimes used in fillings," said Sandlin, a senior chemistry major.  "For the second activity, one of the fake teeth was replaced with a smaller nub that fit in the same space. We had to use tools heated in a Bunsen burner to deposit wax onto the nub until it was built to the right size. Then we shaped it to fit into the mouth the way an actual tooth would. Our attempts were then scanned into a computer and compared to an ideal preparation to show how well - or poorly - we did."


Members of Radford University's Pre-Dental Club are no strangers to these type of developmental trips.

The group is involved in the ASDA, traveling last year to the association's District 4 annual meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina. The meeting ran over the course of a weekend and included several presentations from dentists and prominent ASDA and American Dental Association members regarding topics such as how to be a successful leader, things that are changing in the dental world and the importance of being involved in organized dentistry.   

"Few undergraduates attend these events, so we felt it really gave us a leg up," Sandlin said.

On campus, the club supports several causes, including an annual 5K that raises money for the Bradley Free Clinic in Roanoke. Last April, the race saw an impressive turnout and raised more than $4,000.

Club members also participate in the Mission of Mercy's free dental days at which patients receive free dental work from medical volunteers. Since 2000, more than 60,000 people have benefited from these events. 

"These projects really allow us to connect with the community and gain experience as well as observe the huge impact dental care can have," Sandlin said. "Dentistry is actually a very social profession, and listening to attendees share their stories is very moving. You don't always realize how much a seemingly-simple service can change a life."

The Pre-Dental Club meets every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in Reed 201. The club's mission is to help students who are interested in the dental field become familiar with the application process, prepare for the Dental Admission Test, compile resumes and portfolios and find volunteer opportunities around campus and in the community.

Nov 15, 2016
Mary Hardbarger