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In The Life Of... Dental Student

I can honestly say that I miss the smell of disinfectant wipes, the sound of the aspirator and the adrenaline rush from making someone smile again. This time last year, I would never have imagined a 6 month break from visiting the University of Sheffield’s Dental School.

Things ended quite fast around March time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was mentally preparing myself to sit the upcoming crown prep exam, then the lockdown suddenly happened. I came in for the last Monday morning and was told ‘you may treat patients however no aerosol- generating procedures are allowed, you must ask for a mask, ask your patient to wash your hands etc.’. Many protocols already in place, ready to battle.

Eventually our teaching hospital closed, our tutors continue to treat patients.. As of now, the situation for dental students across the country is unpredictable as to how we will recover from this when we go back to ‘norm’, however I can provide you with an insight into what my last 3 years in Dental school have been like.

So, here is a taster into your first 3 years of Dental school:


SEM 1:

  • An exciting fresh start, butterflies about what is to come, a feeling which cannot be described!

  • You begin the year with a heavily Biochemistry- oriented curriculum.

  • Lectures covered are topics such as glycolysis, organelles, proteins, carbohydrates etc.

  • To complement lectures we had electronic histology sessions which involved studying slides of sections of cells and connective tissues, this really helps to visualise concepts.

  • As well as Friday morning anatomy sessions. You would spend 3-4 hours dissecting cadavers and mainly studying the anatomy of the cardiothoracic system.

  • Lab sessions to complement physiological lectures about the cardiothoracic and nervous system, we carried out various experiments.

  • Clinics at this point would be observing senior BDS students treat patients, to get familiar with the healthcare environment.

  • Exams took place in January and the Summer, just 3 for each semester. Our dental school also holds mock exams to help you become familiar with formatting!

  • Whilst participating in various societies, we also spent plenty of time with SUDSS (Sheffield University Dental Students’ Society) and the events they hold, to get to know older years/ other students in the year, visiting other universities for events etc

SEM 2:

  • If you love teeth, this is when the real FUN starts and the core curriculum becomes more Dentistry related, you learn about tooth morphology, the basics of oral health and periodontal disease.

  • Dissection moves up the body and covers the head and neck.

  • Histology involves looking into the structure of the oral cavity in depth.

  • More exposure is gained on clinics and you begin to go on the phantom heads.


SEM 1 and 2:

  • Developing your basic clinical skills in the phantom head lab - learn how to do composite, amalgam fillings, fissure sealants, use a rubber dam sheet, reinforce your tooth morphology.

  • You get a denture patient and follow through with this

  • Learn how to give local anaesthetic, simple root canal treatments, basic restorative treatments on patients

  • Cover the topic of dental materials

  • Growth, Development, Ageing and Nutrition subtopics



  • Learning all about integrated human diseases and how these are related to Dentistry - an extremely interesting unit, you get to visit the Northern General Hospital to meet lovely patients and find out their perspectives.

  • Paediatrics, dental extractions, triaging emergency patients on clinics


  • Despite being cut slightly short for myself!

  • Learning all about complex root canal treatment and more advanced restorative treatment options

  • Continuing the care of your patients

If you have any questions about applying for Dentistry please do not hesitate to contact me @shivani_kotxcha or through or @step2med.

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