A typical day on placement as a third-year Dental student

The step-up from second year to third comes with its fair share of challenges, but Dentistry student, Ayoola Bode has taken it in her stride. Here, she walks us through a day (or half) in the shoes of third-year Dental student on placement and the busy, early morning schedule.


Although third year has only just started, the huge difference compared to second year is already very clear. In second year, we had only one patient for the entire year: it was a denture patient, so no teeth—just gums—and we spent the year going through the procedures to design a denture. Very non-invasive, no drilling, just a lot of wax and more wax! Looking back, I think it was nice to be eased into seeing patients.


So, onto third year…

In third year we have what I’d describe as two blocks of restorative clinic, which could be a morning session or an afternoon session; both of my sessions are in the morning, and my day is usually something like this:

Sunday evening: Read all the necessary notes for Monday morning e.g. questions to ask when taking medical/dental history, BPE (Basic Periodontal Examination) codes etc.

Monday – 8:45 am: Arrive at the dental hospital and change into tunic and black trousers in the locker room.

8:50 am: Sign the register, turn on the dental unit and test that it works; wipe the dental unit and work surfaces with disinfectant wipes.

If the patient I’m about to see has attended the dental hospital before, I’d usually arrive at the hospital earlier to have a read through the clinical notes and give myself an idea on what treatment they have had in the past and to quickly look up any medications they are taking.

Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences - Dentistry

9:00 am: My clinic group for the morning (there’s about 10 of us in total) huddle together and have a mini discussion about a topic. Usually our tutor assigns a student a topic for each session who does a little presentation about the assigned topic. From this we have the chance to ask our tutor questions and have a group discussion.

9:30 am: The dispensary opens and I, or my clinical partner, will go to dispensary to pick up any necessary equipment we will need for the session. For a new patient examination, all I usually need is a diagnostic pack which includes things like a dental mirror and a BPE probe that’s used to check the health of the gums. Other times, I could be getting some dental drills and filling materials.

9:35 am: I’ll collect the patient from the waiting room, introduce myself (if this is our first encounter) and walk them to my allocated bay.

9:35 am – 12 pm: During this time (with the patient’s consent) I’ll start whatever procedure is required for the day e.g. new patient examination, scale and polish, or carrying out a filling with the help of my clinical partner. When needed, I can ask my tutor for guidance or clarification on anything that I may be unsure about.

dental chair

12 pm: Finish off the procedure I am doing and walk the patient back to reception.

12:05 pm: Type up the procedures done that day in the patient’s clinical notes and any other important findings, then ask my tutor to check over the notes and to authorise them.

12:15 pm: Wipe down the dental unit with disinfectant wipes and close down the unit.

12:25 pm: Submit today’s clinical procedures on ‘IDentity’ (the online log book for students and tutors to monitor clinical progress and reflect upon each patient visit).

12:30 pm: Lunch time! I usually grab a jacket potato from the hospital’s canteen and eat in the common room with friends if I have classes in the afternoon.

All in all, I can’t stress how valuable it is having a clinical partner with me during sessions – to bounce ideas off, make patient visits go smoothly and even help encourage me before a procedure I may be doing for the first time. There’s a lot to learn in third year but I hope to continue improving my confidence in clinics.

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