What's in your bag, dentistry student Maria Contreras?

Maria Contreras sits with her dentistry equipment.View print quality image
Dentistry student Maria Contreras sits with some of her essential gear, from left: laptop computer, loops, resin light and blood pressure cuff. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

Third-year School of Dentistry student Maria Contreras' hands-on clinical experience is being sharpened daily in the new IUPUI Fritts Clinical Care Center.

The San Cristóbal, Venezuela, native now living in Indianapolis uses an array of instruments to make the city's smiles shine. Most of the instruments synonymous with a visit to the dentist are checked out each day from the clinic and returned -- scaling instruments for removing plaque, resin guns for filling cavities, impression materials and plates for mouth X-rays.

Still, Contreras carries other vital pieces of equipment that have helped her become a regent for the Student Professionalism and Ethics Association in Dentistry.

"I only have one-and-a-half more years to go here in the clinic," Contreras said, "and then I'll be able to graduate and hopefully go into a general practice residency and then start practicing."

Laptop computer

Contreras and her fellow students use Axium software for patients' charts. She calls up the data in the clinic, and she uses her laptop for studying outside of clinical work, too.

Loops

These high-tech glasses are used for magnification and additional light. An orange screen that can go over the small light on the glasses is used to check resin hardness during restorations.

Handheld light

The high-powered light is used to cure resin when filling a cavity.

Blood pressure cuff

Contreras checks her patients' vitals -- blood pressure and pulse -- before working on their teeth.

“Oral health is part of a person’s systemic health,” she says.

Description of the following video:

[Video: Shot of a bookbag with a denture keychain]

[Title: IUPUI Presents appears]

[Maria Contreras speaks: Hello, my name is Maria, I'm a third-year dental student here at IU School of Dentistry.

[Title: Maria Contreras, Dentistry student]

[Contreras speaks: And today I am gonna show you some of the things that I use at clinic and some of the things that I use to study. First off, the most important thing is gonna be my laptop, because we have Axium here.
So it's all of our patient's charts are in our computer, I also use this to study, which is really important. The next thing is gonna be my loops, I'm gonna go ahead and open them. And this is pretty much what I use just when I'm seeing patients, we need eye protection.

But there's two things, it also magnifies so it makes it closer to go ahead and look at the teeth. And just see everything that's little in there, and this is the light, just helps me facilitate, see everything better. And it's not so dark in there in the mouth, this is just a battery for the light.

The next thing will be just my blood pressure cuff to make sure that the patient's vitals are okay before seeing them. We need to make sure that they're in the right state, we just connect them. And put them on the patient's arms, and it'll measure just the blood pressure and the pulse, and just make sure that everything is OK.

The very last thing is the light, this is pretty much what we use to go ahead and, if I can get it in. What we go ahead and use to cure the resin. I'm not gonna turn it on, because you don't wanna go ahead and stare directly at the light.

But this is just something to make the material hard that we use to put in the teeth. This is the first year that I am in clinic seeing patients, we usually have other tools that we use to work in the patient's mouth. But those tools will be checked out from the dispensary here in the clinic.

I only have one and a half more years to go here in the clinic, and then I'll be able to graduate. Hopefully go into general practice residency, and then start practicing.]

[Title: IUPUI Fulfilling the promise]

[End of transcript]

Dentistry students like Maria Contreras must master tools and other equipment during their clinical studies before they graduate. Video by Tim Brouk, Indiana University