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Welcome to the University of Michigan School of Dentistry's Blog!

Here you will find blogs from our students about various issues facing our prospective dental professionals, from a day in the life to dealing with frigid Michigan winters. Please email to suggest a topic you would be interested in learning about. Enjoy!

Global Initiatives: Corfu, Greece

August 23, 2016

corfu2016-26Corfu, Greece, a small island in the northwest Ionian Sea, is ready for big steps. These steps began with a new Global Initiative at UMSOD: Prevention and Management of Oral and Craniofacial Diseases in Special Needs Individuals. Three third year dental students,(me, Nicole Pentis; Brittney Phillips and Jenn Cleary) joined three faculty members (Drs. Kyriaki Marti, Carlos Gonzalez-Cabezas, and Margarita Fontana) working hard to bring accessible dentistry to the Special Needs population in Corfu.Under the Greek sun, we started the week familiarizing ourselves with the only hospital on Corfu. Oral surgeons explained their experiences with the special needs population. We visited private practices of local dental practitioners to better understand their perspectives and background. We had the pleasure of attending a Special Olympics team practice, where the coaches and parents displayed a passion for their athletes, and an even bigger passion for creating accessible and affordable dental care on Corfu.Corfu-2

As the week went on, students and faculty from the University of Thessaloniki joined our team, and together, with collaboration from the Dental Association of Corfu, we were ready to start brainstorming ways to improve care for all patients on Corfu. Our brainstorming was on display as the trip concluded with a Symposium organized by UMSOD students and attended by local dentists, specialists, lawmakers, parents, and caretakers of special needs patients. Topics ranged from treating patients under general anesthesia, to Special Olympics Coaches’ experiences, to teaching caretakers about oral health, and finally, future steps towards providing Special Needs dental care on Corfu.

But it wasn’t all work!  We had a little time to explore Corfu and take a boat ride in the beautiful Ionian Sea.

We’re proud to have started this relationship with the people of Corfu and look forward to working together. The conversations we had, relationships we formed, and the foundation we laid, all will lead towards providing dental care to one of the populations in greatest need: those with Special Healthcare Needs.

Nicole Pentis is a D3 with a life-long interest in special needs care. For more photos from Corfu, see the album on Flickr at


August 15, 2016




“A chance to be at ho〽️e another four years? How could I ever say no!”

With the current application cycle up and running, I have reflected a lot on how far I have come since December 1st, my first interview, my first year of undergrad, and even since my high school graduation.

I made the decision to become a dentist when I was 11 years old, so my goal has been set on the horizon for quite a while, and after going through the battles of undergrad, I was ready to take my DAT and apply to dental school. Once I submitted my application, millions of thoughts entered my head for the next couple weeks, varying from overly optimistic and wondering how I couldn’t get into some dental school in the country to the lowest of lows spent thinking there was no way I could compete against some of the legends that post on student doctor network. (By the way, I highly suggest avoiding that site like the plague if you want to keep any ounce of consistent confidence while awaiting replies from schools.)

When the interviews started coming in, I was ecstatic. I remember every single email and phone call and remember who I told first and how thrilled I was to even be given a chance to prove myself. I remember telling my mom when I applied, “Just get me in the room. Just give me a chance to talk. I truly believe I can get into a school if they meet me face to face”. I was given the chance, and now I just had to interview and hopefully get in come December 1st!

After going to a few places around the country, my U of M interview arrived, and I was happily nervous. I wasn’t nervous because I didn’t believe in myself, but rather because I had such a life-changing four years of undergrad here, and I wanted to get into this dental program. The MMI format was challenging but also very rewarding to talk to many different people. I ended up having the most fun out of all my interviews here (which may sound weird, I know), and I was able to be my talkative, confident self at this interview.

I had a few other interviews after U of M, and one blew me away. I was sure this place was something special and might actually take me away from Ann Arbor.

The days before December 1st were excruciatingly nerve-wracking. I remember not being able to sleep the two nights before because of how nervous I was. I had to keep reminding myself to pay attention in my fall semester classes instead of thinking about all the interview questions I was asked and all the answers I gave and how I could have answered them differently.

After talking with my family and after much thought, I felt I was ready to try something new and leave Ann Arbor and Michigan in general.

Then I get a call from UMSOD on December 1st just after 9 in the morning. I got in. I couldn’t believe it. I barely remember what I said back on the phone or if I even spoke fluent English, but one thing that will always remain clear is hearing on the other end, “How would you like to stay at Michigan for a little bit longer?”… Hearing that question, knowing this school wanted me to attend, made my answer certain: I couldn’t leave.

Now I’m in my D1 year, and I couldn’t be happier. My classmates are incredible, and all faculty blow us away with their extensive knowledge. Oh, and not to mention U of M is the top dental school in the country and second best in the entire world. Seems funny now that I even considered for a second going somewhere else.

For all the current and future applicants to dental school, I would highly consider thinking about Michigan being your number one choice. While the winters are tough and not everyone’s favorite, Ann Arbor is indescribable in any written form. It has to be experienced first hand. While I was blessed to be given a chance to spend eight years here, even four years is something that will change a student into a career ready adult. U of M will give you connections you never thought imaginable before, and you will get to know so many influential scholars, and that will have such a positive impact on your future. You will be coming to the best school in the country and the school that will prepare you to be the best dentist you can be, which leads to providing exceptional care to patients and that, after all, is why so many people are attracted to dental school and the profession in the first place.

Michigan is ho〽️e. Those who stay, those who will come, will be the best leaders. Go Blue!

Cory Ball is a D1, from Grand Rapids, and his advice would be to enjoy every moment of the opportunities given to you. You never know which ones will change your life and what amazing life lessons you can gain from them.

White Coat: A Lit and Flossy Friday

August 4, 2016

The whole summer term people in the school of dentistry have been talking about the coveted “white coat ceremony” as if once the jacket is placed on our shoulders we will be entirely new people. The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is unique because we are one of the first if not THE first class of 2020 dental students to receive this white coat marking a transition into clinical education. Therefore, having the ceremony this early, I did not think the coat would make much of an impact on how I looked at my education, since I feel as though I have much to learn yet in didactic courses before I jump into clinic. However, the introduction to the clinic so early is definitely an advantage.

To me what it is representing in this moment is only the very beginning to a life of learning to serve others. I don’t know much more about the profession than any layperson, but the jacket symbolizes me getting the nod from the profession saying, “You’re up”.

Excitement was at an all time high walking into the auditorium. I had no idea my classmates even knew how to dress up, owned dresses and suits, or even knew how to style their hair since we all literally “scrub it” every day. WE WERE ALL LOOKING FLOSSY. Pun intended.

With an onslaught of Facebook pictures from the event, my friends online now see I have this rad jacket and most definitely think I AM a graduated dentist.

To my close friends and family members, this coat represents a wealth of knowledge they can tap into during the holidays when they tell me all about their tooth aches and other oral maladies. I simply cannot wait for Thanksgiving this year when I see my cousin Will and he asks if I can do his fillings for him right there.

The ceremony was beautiful; an opulent auditorium filled with flowers, keynote speakers of high importance, proud families and friends, and a whole class of aspiring dentists. So even though I don’t feel any more competent in the practice of dentistry, I do feel a huge sense of accomplishment in my life thus far. These people believe enough in my abilities as a servant of the public to place upon me the White Coat. Something I will wear with pride, honor and integrity. A job this light-hearted, dancing machine of a man will take very seriously.

I am in a new place, knew no one in Ann Arbor before June 27th , I’m at the top dental school in the U.S., I study more hours than I sleep (who sleeps anymore?), I am greatly indebted to the government, but morale is high. I couldn’t ask for a more lit fam to be with in this formative time in my life. Much love to you all and GO BLUE!!!

Mark Ash is a D1 with approximately one month of dental school under his belt and jokes for days. To check out the rest of the White Coat Ceremony pictures, click HERE.
To read the story, click HERE.

A Dental Student’s Guide to Getting Fed in a Hurry

July 20, 2016

by Melissa Chime


Hope you washed those claws, Wolverine.

When it comes to food for hungry UMSOD students, the most important factors are proximity to the school and how quickly they can get it in their mouths. So sandwiches are a convenient and tasty way for dental students to satisfy their hunger during study breaks or between patients. Here are 5 places UMSOD students like to get their sandwiches when they’re a Wolverine without the time or claws to slice up salami and make their own.

Zingerman’s Deli

D-$ Cuban

D-$’s Cuban Conundrum- Spicy!

When most people hear the words “sandwich” and “Ann Arbor” in the same sentence, Zingerman’s Deli is usually the first place to come to mind- and rightfully so. Zingerman’s is known for their sandwiches, but they also specialize in artisan cheeses, meats, and breads. Although on the pricier side, Zingerman’s Deli is so good even President Obama had to stop by for a bite back in 2014. The delicatessen offers huge sandwiches that are sure to fill you up and leave you with enough leftover for a second meal, and because of this it’s a popular spot for UMSOD students when they’ve got a taste for a high quality sandwich. If you want to eat like a dental student, try ordering the “D-$’s Cuban Conundrum” or a classic favorite- “The Zingerman’s Reuben”. (They deliver for a $5 fee:


panera- turkey kate

The kale means it’s healthy, right?

This chain restaurant is known for their variety of soups, fresh salads, great bagels, and tasty sandwiches. They are also committed to making all of their ingredients free of artificial coloring, preservatives, and sweeteners by 2018. Too much sugar is not good for your teeth, so this commitment to ridding excess sugar in food is one of the many reasons why UMSOD students love Panera.  If you stop by and want to eat like a dental student, try ordering the roasted turkey and caramelized kale Panini with a cup of broccoli and cheddar soup on the side. (Order ahead for pick-up, or if you’re really tired, order from your table and have it delivered to you there at


diavolo piada

It looks like a burrito, but tastes like Italian love.

Piada, a thin Italian flatbread, is not only a very popular type of Italian sandwich that UMSOD students love to order, but it is also the name of the restaurant where they order it from. The casual chain restaurant serves pastas, salads, and of course- sandwiches. However, this type of sandwich is not served on your average hoagie roll, but instead on a flatbread. The restaurant is especially popular among dental students because when they’re craving Italian food but don’t have the budget for it, Piada offers great tasting pastas and sandwiches (sometimes combined together!) for half the price of your average Italian restaurant, and it can be made to-go, which is perfect for dental students who don’t have time to sit and eat in. There is one location on South State Street, about a 5-minute walk from the school of dentistry. If you’re looking to eat like a dental student, consider ordering the Diavolo Piada with steak, and a side of garlic dough to go with it. (order online to avoid those lines at


wreck potbelly

The prettiest Wreck. photo courtesy John S. via Yelp

One of the most popular sandwich shops for UMSOD students to flock to is Potbelly’s. Located on the corner of south State Street and East Liberty, this sub-shop chain is known for their delicious and warm sandwiches that are often accompanied by live music! They have sandwiches served in a variety of sizes (for those who want to indulge but not go overboard), and every sandwich is sent through an oven and toasted to a warm perfection. Even better, Potbelly’s also serves soups, salads, ice cream sandwiches, and even milkshakes! This is great for dental students who want a sandwich but are also craving something a little sweet on the side and don’t have the time to travel to another location to get it. If you’re looking to eat like a dental student, try ordering “A Wreck” and finish it off with an Oreo shake right after.(Order for pickup at:


chick-bacon-ranch subway

Does it even matter what sandwich this is? Yum.

Although most sandwiches are neither $5 nor approximately 12-inches anymore, the chain is known for making sandwiches that let customers pick from a wide range of meats, cheeses, and toppings to customize to their liking. The sandwiches are also relatively healthy, with 6-inches starting as low as 167 calories (veggie delight) which is great for dental students who want to stay in shape. There are 3 locations close to the dental school- two on South State Street and one on South University. 2 of the locations are also open until midnight, and it’s very convenient for dental students who are looking for a quick bite to eat during their midnight study sessions. If you’re looking to eat like a dental student, try ordering the chicken and bacon ranch melt- or you can make your own!

Melissa Chime, guest blogger, is a 3rd year student at THE Ohio State University, but we like her anyway. She is majoring in international relations and double minoring in Mandarin Chinese and business. 

Three Years of Hope

June 30, 2016

Last month the School of Dentistry had our annual Commencement ceremony, celebrating our DDS, Hygiene, Masters and Doctoral program graduates.  Here is DH4 Class President Hope Wooley’s speech from the ceremony.- Editor

hope grad pic

Welcome distinguished guests, professors, friends, family, and most importantly graduates. My name is Hope Woolley and I am honored to represent the Dental Hygiene Graduating Class of 2016.

About three years ago the dental hygiene students arrived on campus for the first time for transfer student orientation. The end of the campus tour brought us to the fountain located between the Bell Tower and the League. The fountain is titled “Sunday Morning in Deep Waters” and it’s tradition at orientation that incoming students walk through the fountain. This symbolizes their arrival on campus. When we reached the fountain we were asked to remove our shoes and socks and line up in a single file. As we walked through the knee deep water, our tour guide yelled over the pouring rain, “You may have been taught that your blood is red, but I assure you, as of this moment YOU BLEED BLUE.”


Now, at this moment not only was I concerned about being soaking wet from the rain and fountain, I was also worried about the fact that I had just joined a football loving, maize and blue wearing, Hail to the Victors-cult. I would soon be casually incorporating the phrases bleeding blue, leaders and best, and the Michigan difference in my everyday conversations.

About a month later we gathered on campus again and began to see what “the Michigan difference” was all about as we began our journey of becoming prevention specialists. Over the past 3 years we’ve practiced gagging patients with x rays, drowning them with the ultrasonic, and perfecting the phrase,  “sir, if you would just floss this wouldn’t hurt.”

We made it through histology by filling in every blank space on a test with the answer “neural crest cell.” We survived our first day of clinic quite honestly sweating through our scrubs, and we literally had our hands held by instructors as we practiced giving and receiving local anesthetic injections.

We’ve been able to participate in many community outreach programs including: Give Kids a Smile day, Taft Clinic, Donated Dental Days, and fluoride varnish programs. We’ve completed projects with Headstart and various elementary, middle schools, and high schools. We made an online continuing education course for certified nursing assistants in nursing homes and served a variety of underserved populations. We researched fluoride retention, salivary diagnostics, side effects of oral and maxillofacial piercings, the perception of the dental hygiene profession amongst other health care professionals, and the knowledge of oral health care professions among under-represented minorities such as African Americans and Arab-Americans and we’ve researched so much more. We are not an unaccomplished group.

I asked my classmates what their definition of  “The Michigan Difference” was, their responses: Tests that are harder than necessary. Never ending homework and research assignments. Community outreach. The dreaded motivational interviewing. Watching students enjoy fall break from the bleak, soulless confines of the commons and secretly wishing they would trip on the sidewalk and fall flat on their faces because the dental school does not observe fall break. Seemingly unreachable goals. Free lunches and candy during class. Still having clinic on the only snow day that the University of Michigan has had in about 70 years and on said snow day having your patient drive more than 3 hours in the -30 degree blizzard for you to clean all 4 of his teeth. True story- it happened and I lived to tell the tale. And lastly, people said, “Not being told the answers. Having to figure things out on our own.” This last point is one I want to focus on for a moment. Michigan has not taught us WHAT to think, but HOW to think- to think bigger- and that, my friends, is the Michigan difference.

We are heading into the unknown of clinical practice, and sometimes our lack of experience or insecurities may lead us to embrace other people’s expectations, standards, or values. May I propose that this doesn’t have to be the case. We have our own minds and we’ve been taught to think, not blindly follow. In these situations we have the opportunity to truly be the leaders and best.

Growing up I was taught that it is not enough to be good; you must be good for something. Today you are graduating from the number 1 dental school in the nation– you will hold a piece of paper in your hand that tells the world you are capable, and demand the best care. That you are the best in your field, that you are more than good, but are great. I am here to tell you that none of that matters. You can be the best clinician and still be good for nothing. What has to happen? What do we do to be good for something? Be caring, be genuine, be thorough and understanding, be thoughtful and wise, be encouraging, and above all be kind.

We’re all here today because of someone- or someones- who inspired and encouraged us. I would like for you to take some time today to think about and thank the people who helped get to where you are sitting now. I would be incredibly ungrateful if I did not thank our faculty and clinical instructors- thank you for the time and dedication to the profession and to each one of us. Thank you for teaching us the skills to be good.

Thank you to our friends and family, to those who were encouraging, caring, wise, understanding and kind- you helped make us good for something.

Thank you to my classmates- my time here was great because of you. I am better because of you.

And lastly, thank you to my sweet husband, who I’m sure is mortified right now. He tried so diligently to learn dental hygiene terminology so he could carry on intelligent conversations with my classmates and me. Thank you for loving me through the stress, wiping away my tears, and always seeing the bigger picture. I love you more everyday.

hope grad pic 2

As I said before, many of us will soon enter clinical practice, some will attend graduate school and become educators and researchers. A few will join the dark side and attend dental school. Many will stay here in Michigan; others will travel across the United States, and a few around the world. But no matter where we go, we’re taking Michigan with us, because whether you believed it three years ago or not, I promise you, that as of THIS very moment, you do and will ALWAYS bleed blue.


Forever Go Blue

May 16, 2016


Good afternoon.

It is my honor to be representing our graduating dental class of 2016 on this very special day. It seems like just yesterday we were right down the road at Rackham Auditorium receiving our white coats. Over these four years, some of us have changed a little bit, some of us a lot-­‐ whether that be a few gray hairs coming in here or there; or in my case 6mm of a receded hairline. Speaking of recession though, I’m sure our graduates will surely miss saying to their assistants: 3, 2, 3; 4 2 3; BOP mesial…You gotta love those perio charts!

June 25, 2012-­‐ That was our first day of orientation at Palmer Commons. Quite a bit has happened since. Intellectually, we have grown and developed immensely. Thanks to the record keeping of our classmate Spencer Crouch, I have some impressive stats to share with you: throughout our four years of dental school-­‐ we completed 138 exams, 230 quizzes, 110 practicals and test cases, and 111 papers/projects.

Outside the classroom and clinic, we also had some great times and personal achievements. There were 26 engagements, 14 weddings, 19 babies born with a few more on the way, occasional tears, and countless laughs and countless memories together.

Now look at us. Doctors of Dental Surgery! We earned it. We sweated through Form 1 box preps, waxing, and setting denture teeth in sim lab. Now we can effectively and confidently treat complex cases from disease to health.

I’d also like to highlight the quality of education that we received from the school of dentistry. According to the QS World University Rankings, Michigan is ranked as the #1 dental school in the entire nation and get this, the #2 dental school in the entire world! That is very impressive! They weren’t kidding about that whole ‘leaders and best’ thing.
The ranking speaks volumes to the type of administrators, faculty, staff, alumni, and of course phenomenal students that we have in this program.

We have a lot to be thankful for. On behalf of the graduating classes, we thank the wonderful faculty and staff for their mentorship. Another important group to be thankful for is our own personal support systems. Having all of you here and those who are here in spirit, celebrating this commencement and our official entry into the dental community is greatly appreciated. Whether that be parents, siblings, significant others, friends, mentors– thank you for your love and support!

Now for some final words I’d like to pass onto the class:

Jokes aside, the first piece of advice I would like to share: Never forget your “why.” You all have a passion for dentistry that led you to this career.  Whether your path is general dentistry, a specialty, solo or group practice, military, community, research or academics- don’t forget your passion.  Five years ago, in your personal statement when applying to dental school you outlined your reasons and motivation to be a dental professional. Don’t forget those!

Second, don’t settle.  Be confident in your abilities.  You have the skills and resources to succeed.  You are all bright and intelligent professionals.  But don’t be ordinary- be extraordinary.

Third.  Pay it forward.  Be a leader.  Be an advocate.  Be a mentor, be a difference in someone’s life.  Get involved, and do things in your community.  Put others first and give back.  As Winston Churchill once said- “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Lastly and most importantly: Don’t forget.  Don’t forget where you have come from and where you have been.  We all got here differently, we all have our own story.  Some have a strong family tradition of dentists, some will be the first health professional in their whole family.  Many of us are from here in Michigan.  Quite a few from California, others from Canada, Cuba, Alaska, India, Afghanistan, you name it.  Some of us are only 24 years old- while others have families and have had other careers before this. But whatever your story, we all have one common destination along our route- The University of Michigan School of Dentistry.  Never forget that, never lose that bond with your classmates.  Yes, there will be some challenging times ahead.  But we have eachother.  Stay in touch, support each other, be that someone to talk to.

And one final quote from Maya Angelou to sum everything up:  “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Congratulations Class of 2016!  Enjoy and celebrate.  You’ve earned it.  And remember- wherever you go, forever Go Blue!

Commencement 2016-125

Andrew Grillo was the president of his D4 class.  Before being voted as class president his senior year, Andrew devoted his time to serving the American Student Dental Association (ASDA). He served as a representative his D1 year, vice president his D2 year and President his D3 year.  Andrew was also voted by his class as the recipient of the Ryan E. Turner Award.  

Give Kids A Smile-From The Kids

April 7, 2016

Our annual Give Kids a Smile event took place last weekend, and a few of our patients chipped in to let us know all about smiles.. Whether teeth are made of snow, milk or teeth bones, the Smile Experts have you covered.


Give Kids A Smile To Think About- click for Video

Video Produced by students Joseph Eusebio, Ji Won Gwak, Hussain Haider and Nicole Pentis


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