This past weekend was the California Dental Association (CDA) Conference titled ‘The Art and Science of Dentistry’. Over three days, people from all walks of the dental-related fields converged in Anaheim, California to learn, chat, and connect. Health professionals also had the opportunity to enroll in Continuing Education (CE) courses, and everyone was welcome to attend seminars and learn about the latest innovations occurring in the dental realm. There were also plenty of mixers for attendees to mingle. The event was open to almost anyone and everyone who registered – I saw plent of hygienists, assistants, practicing (and retired) dentists, faculty members, students, and even family and friends.
Friday seemed to center on a large research symposium and competition. Dental students could present their posters in one of three fields: scientific, clinical, and community. Registered Dental Assistants (RDAs) had their own category of research presentation, and dental residents and military dentists could present their findings as well. What do ‘scientific’, ‘clinical’, and ‘community’ research topics include? Scientific research requires the project to be rooted in basic science related to dentistry, but does not require a clinical application. For example, a research project could be about how certain molecules found in gingival crevicular fluid (the fluid that comes out of your gums, and can be found in pockets between your gums and teeth) are related to a specific dental-related pathology, such as osteonecrosis of the jaw. Clinical research requires the project to have a clinical application, such as an effectiveness study comparing different brands of dental implants. (Next question would be to define ‘effectiveness’, which can always get a little murky.) The third category, community, includes research topics with an educational or public health-oriented application. Continuing with the dental implant theme, a community research project could assess how insurance coverage (or lack thereof) affect patients’ willingness to undergo dental implants compared to other prostheses.
UCLA had great representation at CDA’s research competition! Quite a handful of dental students presented their projects, and among the three categories’ top three prizes (9 total), UCLA swept four of them! Armin Miresmaili (D3) won 3rd in the Scientific category; Charlotte Etesse won 3rd in the Clinical category; Desiree Shiou (D3) won 2nd place in the Community category; and Edwin Eshaghzadeh and Chantal Hakim (both D3s) won 1st in the Scientific category. Congratulations to the winners, and a HUGE congratulations goes to all of the students who presented their research!
Saturday evening, UCLA hosted an Alumni Reunion with refreshments and hor d’oeurves. The alumni reception drew hundreds of attendees – apparently over 400 had registered to attend! It was great to see so many people united by their dental school experience at UCLA.
Last but not least, I enjoyed perusing through the vendors and taking a gander at the multitude of dental services and supplies available. We inquired about fancy-looking clinic and laboratory equipment. Some of the operatory chairs my classmates and I saw were tens of thousands of dollars. One machine that manufactured crowns and veneers on the spot cost over $50,000! (I think we even saw a 3D printing machine that could use different media to produce crowns, but I am not entirely sure.) I do not know enough about dental offices and how to appropriately furnish them, but it was interesting to learn about the equipment available. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that purchasing your own Cone Beam CT scanner can cost upwards of $100,000, if not more. No wonder why dental work in a private office can be so expensive!
With all of those mindboggling numbers, we comforted ourselves with collecting as many low-budget items as we could, like toothbrushes and burs. One highlight was being given 5 full-sized hello toothpaste tubes from the founder, Craig Dubitsky, himself! Hello toothpaste is vegan, not tested on animals, and contains no artificial flavors, sweeteners, or dyes. Sound like Tom’s? Apparently hello is preferred 2:1 over Tom’s! At the vendor table, we were eating spoonfuls of the watermelon-flavored, non-fluoridated children’s toothpaste. Yes, it’s that good. Next on my list of toothpaste to use? The mint mojito!
CDA was eye-opening, and I am glad that I checked out the vendors and seminars. There is always so much to learn! I am also grateful that UCLA hosted the alumni reception because it gave us the opportunity to meet others who are happily working as dentists in the southern California area. If you’re in the area next May, definitely check out the CDA dental convention! It’s not limited to dental students – friends and family can attend too!