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Vol. 2 No. 1



letter the


As we embark on a new school year, I would like to formally thank all of our officers and members for making the 2016-2017 year a success for our ASDA chapter. It was a remarkable year for our students as we continued with our new traditions of events, like Dr. Dodgeball and Mandiball, and also added new programs to enhance our members’ experience with San Antonio ASDA. Looking forward to the 2017-2018 year, San Antonio ASDA is doing some exciting things! We are implementing ASDA Week for our dental students. This is a week full of lunch and learns with nighttime events to get our students excited about ASDA and the different advantages that our organization provides. Not only will this week be crammed with social interaction, but also we are bringing speakers in to discuss professional aspects of ASDA, such as advocacy, business, and even potential job opportunities. This 2nd edition of the Alamolar focuses on our students. All articles were written by students and focus on their lives outside of the classroom and clinic. As dental students, many times we become so hyper-focused on our academics that we forget to experience life outside of school. This issue highlights life beyond our windowless classrooms and our new bright clinic, giving our readers a glimpse into our students’ lives. Dental school can be stressful and a draining 4 years, but creating a balance with extracurricular activities can help to enhance your dental school experience!

letter from

the editors




We are so excited to share this newsletter with you all! This is the second edition of The Alamolar and our very first as co-editors. We spent the summer working on this newsletter to show everyone what San Antonio ASDA is truly about. For this issue, we tried to step up our design and content game to showcase our incredibly talented ASDA members. In this issue, we tried to integrate various different topics to appeal to every dental student out there. This newsletter is especially near and dear to to myself, Jared, as I get to share my fellow classmate’s and my own journey to dental school. We hope that this inspires each and every one of you to also find meaning towards your goals to becoming successful, practicing dentists. We know school can be daunting sometimes (haha! jk, all the time), but our sincerest wish is that you all can take a step back every so often to cherish the incredible opportunities we are blessed with. Our newsletter features our brilliant and unique ASDA members and the different ways they keep themselves sane with the craziness of dental school. We challenge you all to find your own ways to motivate yourselves and to fully experience the many joys of this incredible journey. Lastly, we would like to take a moment to thank all of our writers, photographers, sponsors, and everyone else that helped make this issue possible. Let’s make this year great!

Y’alls truly,


Current ASDA Officers President - Taylor Cook President Elect- Jonathan Abay Past President - Daniel Yates Financial - Xavier Walker | Priscilla Barajas Membership - Kirsten Fox | Priya Patel Wellness - Dori Kohler | Drew Daniel Philanthropy - Autumn Castillo | Jared Ricks Event - Lacey Key | Gina Khong Fundraising - Alex Quante | Elizabeth Miller Legislative - Sid Reddy | Sami Sackos Pre-Dental - Wendi Parks | Vincent Vo Lunch & Learn - Angela Huynh & Kelsey Reyes Media - Aamna Zaidi

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Mark your calendars

Cover Story……………………………….…3 Business of Dentistry…………………..…5 Baseball Jersey to White Coat…………..9 National Leadership Conference Nov. 17 - 19th, 2017 Chicago, IL

Dominican Republic Mission Trip.……11 The Research Corner………………….…13

ASDA Annual Session Feb. 21 -24th, 2018

Keeping Up With The Alamolars…..…15

Anaheim, CA

Odontophobia…………………………….17 ADA Dentist and Student Lobby Day April 8 - 10th, 2018 Washington, D.C.

TDA Meeting May 3 - 5th, 2018 San Antonio, TX

San Antonio Spotlight…………………..20 Cooking with ASDA……………………..21 From Tech Startup to Dental………….…..23

*Cover photography by Gina Khong ’20 | Cover page design by Zain Rizvi


The Alamolar. â&#x20AC;¦â&#x20AC;¦.cover story continued




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By Kalyn Driggers ‘19

Dentistry and business are not often mentioned together in the dental school world but these two worlds are very important and key to a successful career. When running a dental practice, lots of your success will depend on your skills as a clinician, but another large aspect will be how to run your business. After running a successful private practice for over 30 years and a corporate practice for 6 years, my father, Dr. Terry Driggers, often preaches to me about the art of simplicity and the dangers of getting too far ahead of yourself too quickly. He often says, “the secret to finances, whether in dentistry or just life in general is to not spend more than you make and to always treat people the best way you know how.” A lot of work is put into a successful practice, such as: advertisement, catering to specific needs of every patient, taking care of and appreciating your staff, and efficient business skills. The bottom line to all of this work being done to ensure your success is the way the business is run. For example, when building your practice, a small and efficient staff is a very important aspect. Dentists tend to get themselves in trouble when they hire too many employees and not enough work is available to be done for the amount of people present. Moreover, the dentist is spending the money they could be using on other expenses, on people that don’t contribute greatly to their practice. With a small number of people left to run a business, all of the employees are sure of their responsibilities and are always occupied with something to work on, resulting in a smooth running practice and lower overhead for the owner.


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Another diamond of wisdom my dad has shared with me is the concept of â&#x20AC;&#x153;duplicating

yourself.â&#x20AC;? When he says to duplicate yourself, he means to find a professional just like you, with the same work ethic, pride in your practice and love for your profession, and invite them to work for you as an associate. If your practice can support another dentist, duplicating yourself is a very good way to increase the amount of income you generate. Furthermore, most people do not consider individual patient interaction and care as an aspect that affects their business very much, however, this can make or break your business. The best and fastest advertisement is word of mouth. If a patient is treated with respect, actually listened to and the dentist makes it a point to show that they care, they will be your best advertisement around, which ties back into running a successful business.

This individual care includes: calling patients after hours after any invasive procedures, seeing patients on weekends for emergencies, and getting patients that are in pain into the practice the same day that they call. When a dentist, or any professional, goes out of their way to accommodate to the needs of their patient, people remember those things and they remain loyal to their dentist. These people that experience how much the dentist cares for them are key elements to ensuring a successful practice, not to mention, they are great practice builders. Successful dental practices have to have great money management, outstanding patient care, and a loyal and committed staff. Treating people right, spending and saving money wisely are three things that are very simple, yet often over looked. However, these few simple tips can have a massive impact on a practice and it can be well on its way to a long and successful future.

ASDA Business Boot Camp The event was led by Pacific Dental Services who brought in around five different business speakers to talk on their given expertise. This was a great opportunity for students to learn about insurance, taxes, leadership, and many more topics that are typically left out of the dental curriculum. We find this to be one of the many great benefits that ASDA provides for our members and we hope to increase such events in the future!

Why Heartland Dental? Reason #44:

Business 101 ISNâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;T CUTTING IT. Starting a business is no small feat, and you may encounter many obstacles along the way. Being a dentist is a job in itself, so why take on another one? Our non-clinical support allows you to channel your efforts towards becoming a better dentist. Leave the paperwork to us, so you can focus on what matters most - your patients.






Comic by Alyssa Joy-Oviatt â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;18


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From Baseball Jersey To White Coat By Taylor Cook '19

When Wes Cooksey was a boy, he dreamt of becoming a major league baseball player. What he didn’t know was that he would eventually trade his jersey in for a white coat. Wesley Boyd Cooksey was born May 22, 1978 in Port Arthur, Texas. It was in that small town where Wes discovered his love of baseball and decided he was going to chase the ultimate American dream – to be a major league baseball player. He went to college at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas to pursue a degree in business, but his intentions were mostly geared toward continuing to play baseball at a higher level. Cooksey wanted to major in biology, but being at a smaller university, the only biology labs were offered in the afternoon when he had baseball practice. His first year at Lamar, Cooksey unfortunately had to endure an elbow surgery and was red-shirted. Within his 5 years in college, he threw a lot of pitches, hit homeruns, and ran many bases. But, Cooksey will admit his biggest homerun was meeting his college sweetheart, Britton. The couple was engaged the same year that Cooksey graduated college in 2001. After Cooksey’s exciting year of graduating college and getting engaged, he signed with the New York Yankees before the June major league baseball draft and headed to rookie ball in Tampa, Florida. Wes spent 3 weeks there and from there moved to Staten Island, New York right after the regular MLB. That was where he spent his first season of professional baseball. Wes went back after his 4-month offseason, from October to January, and played 3 more seasons with the Yankees. The season of 2003 was Cooksey’s last season to play baseball. This was a bittersweet goodbye, but mostly sweet because Wes was set to marry Britton in November of 2003.


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After the Cooksey wedding, the couple moved to Nederlend, TX where Britton worked as a chemical engineer at the paper-mill and Wes worked for BJ Chemical Services as a chemical vendor to refineries. Wes moved on to accept an offer with a pharmaceutical company where he worked for 7 years. He sold everything from antidepressants to pediatric vaccines. Although the money was great, Wes felt like he was in a holding pattern in life and was extremely unhappy with his career. If he wanted to move up in the company, he would have to move away from his and Britton’s family in East Texas and start a whole new life. Wes had lost motivation to sell medication and did not feel like it was gratifying anymore. He needed something else in life. Wes’s uncle is a general dentist in Orange, Texas and he had been talking to Wes about dentistry and the benefits of the profession for a couple of years. He began to shadow his uncle in his practice and fell in love with dentistry. Wes commented that he felt discouraged because of his age and did not think he would get accepted into dental school. Britton was his motivation and pushed Wes to fulfill his dream. Wes went back to Lamar University in the spring 2012 as a part time student to get his prerequisites for dental school. He was accepted into dental school and successfully joined the Class of 2019. Wes believes that you cannot sit back in life and wait for someone to do something for you. He reminds us to do whatever it takes to achieve your goals. When asked about being the ‘old guy’ in class, Wes says it’s weird, but he’s learned a lot from the younger generation. He likes that everyone has such excitement to be in school because it makes him even more excited about his career path. Wes has also made great, lifelong friends and definitely feels like he has made the right decision. 10

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Greetings from the

Dominican Republic


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“The Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA)’s mission trip to the Dominican Republic was an inspirational and motivating experience that left me feeling excited about my future career in dentistry. The most moving aspect for me was to work with five dentists willing to give up their time to serve God by serving others, including serving the dental students. Their enthusiasm in sharing their knowledge with the eight dental students is something I will cherish forever and hope to do myself someday. These relationships formed will last past the ten days of this trip as we plan to go visit their practices and learn more from our new friends. There is no better way to start our second year in dental school.’’

-Caitlyn Luther ‘20

“The mission trip was an unforgettable experience and I would most definitely participate again. Going into the trip, I knew minimal Spanish, but now after all the direct contact with patients speaking Spanish, I feel like I learned a lot. Knowing the language makes it more convenient for the patient and yourself to communicate and provide optimal care to the community. While on the mission trip, since I was not fluent in Spanish, we were provided with translators that helped us every step of the way. They were even there to help us bargain when we went to the market! By the end of the trip, I felt more confident in my Spanish speaking ability after working with translators and having them help me with the language. My goal after the mission trip is to become fluent in Spanish to better serve individuals in different communities. “

-Priya Patel ‘20

“What made this experience special was not only the opportunity to provide dental care to the people of the Dominican Republic, but the chance to serve alongside members of the IBQ church. Every morning we were joined in devotion and prayer before the start of our work days at the remote sites or at the dental clinic. Working in the dental clinic allowed us to interact with the people of this church community, to join in their struggles and praises, and to pray with them through these pains and joys of their lives. To witness the love for their church and to see firsthand the impact this ministry is having in the lives of the Dominican people was incredibly inspiring. It is heartening to know that the people of this community will have the ability to receive continued dental care through the love and support of this church, STCH ministries, and volunteers who are called to take part in this outreach to bring honor and glory to Christ.”

-Caroline Brown ‘20

“The mission trip was a memorable experience for me. The people of the Dominican Republic were some of the nicest, most appreciative, and welcoming individuals that I have ever met. Everyone was also so helpful in clinic. They would do whatever they could to make it easier for us whether it was translating or getting instruments. Something that really stuck out to me was when we had an uncooperative child and one of the church members explained to the little girl how this was a once in a lifetime opportunity for her and that we had traveled all this way just to help her. After that, the child’s attitude completely changed. This really hit me because I never thought about it that way before. We were able to give people a once in a lifetime opportunity! The people were so grateful and appreciative that we were there. I was excited to be able to use my skills to help people and gain this experience.” -Priscilla Barajas ‘20

“This was my first time on a dental/medical trip which made the trip both a giving and learning experience. Some aspects that made this trip so pleasant were the food and lodging accommodations. The church members cooked us excellent Dominican food three times a day! The saying that most missionaries leave with a few extra pounds was something I found to be accurate! Another enjoyable aspect to the trip was the time given to us in the evenings to relax and recharge before the next day of work. This time consisted of fellowship and games, such as mafia, which managed to bring animosity among many of us! The excellent care the STCH team provided coupled with time to relax led to an amazing mission trip that I hope to continue to be a part of in years to come.”

-Jonathan Abay ‘20

“My first CMDA mission trip this summer fueled my passion and desire to serve others through dentistry! During the four days of clinic, we were repetitively exposed to many procedures, including cleanings, fillings, and extractions. If the tooth could be saved it would be filled, if not, it was extracted. Many of us were able to extract our first tooth or prep for a filling, an experience many of us will never forget! We were also able to take impressions for dentures to be made back home & delivered by another team two weeks later. The five dentists heartily and graciously shared their knowledge, explained procedures, and answered all of our questions. I left the Dominican Republic with great fervor and excitement to begin my second year and learn to execute these procedures! I’ve learned so much from this experience and look forward to returning to serve the Dominicans!”

-Madeline Hart ‘20

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The Research Corner:

BRIDGING THE GAP By Nick Hargreaves â&#x20AC;&#x2122;19 Dental science has been woven into the fabric of my life since I was very young. Two of the most influential role models in my life were dental scientists, including my father and a close family friend. Growing up, our dinner table conversation regularly included discussion pertaining to dentistry. Even as a child, I remember that some of my favorite parts of the Disney film Finding Nemo were the dental related ones. This environment was fantastic for nurturing my budding love for science. I can remember many weekends where my father would take me along into his lab and use a microscope to show me cells or sensory neurons firing. Additionally, I had abundant opportunities to experience dentists practicing their great profession; which fostered my desire to become a dentist. When it came time for me to begin my formal studies, I decided to pursue a career in both dentistry and science. From the start, many people questioned the feasibility of such a pursuit. Fortunately my two role models demonstrated daily that this goal was attainable. I worked toward this goal and was accepted into the DDS/PhD program at UT Health San Antonio in 2012. I began my training with 3 years in graduate school and then matriculated into dental school in 2015.


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Figure 1. Cancer cells treated with microtubule targeting agents. Microtubules are shown in green and the nuclei in blue.

These structures enable many critical cellular processes including communication, division, metabolism, and migration. The collective disruption of these and other processes results in the initiation of cell death and ultimately promotes tumor shrinkage. Briefly, there are two classes of microtubule targeting agents named for the effect on the microtubule cytoskeleton: microtubule depolymerizers and microtubule polymerizers (Figure 1). As the names suggest, depolymerizers promote the disassembly of microtubules into their constituent tubulin heterodimers, whereas polymerizers promote the assembly and bundling of multiple microtubules. Although both classes are used in cancer treatment, they are not always used to treat the same cancers. A significant limitation of these agents is the inability of clinicians to predict which patients will respond to which microtubule targeting agent and how to effectively combine these agents with other cancer therapies. This issue becomes more complex considering there are many different drugs that fall within the two classes of microtubule targeting agents, each with their own distinct features. The goal of my research is to understand the differences among microtubule targeting agents, both between and within the two classes, with respect to their molecular mechanisms of action. This information is necessary in order to rationally select a specific drug for treating a patientâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tumor. These mechanisms serve as the groundwork for identifying biomarkers, which indicate tumor sensitivity to specific microtubule targeting agents, as well as demonstrate synergistic drug targets. This kind of preclinical research serves as the foundation for drastically improving the way we, as clinicians, help our patients. There are many clinical problems and mysteries that need to be solved to help make lives better. Being able to directly interact with and help patients, while also addressing clinical problems using preclinical techniques, provides a unique ability to bridge the gap between the clinic and the lab. I am very grateful for the the unique training opportunities UT Health San Antonio has provided me, I eagerly look forward to working alongside my professional peers to contribute to our great profession of dental science.


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ALAMOLARS Mandiball Mandiball is San Antonio ASDA’s yearly gala in which all of our members get together for a year end celebration. The evening is a time for students to bring their significant others and dance the night away with great food and drinks! This is also the time that our chapter announces the new leadership team for the year ahead and gives recognition to each officer. This event is definitely considered a “must attend” for our chapter!


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Dr. Dodgeball

This is our largest philanthropic event that

we hold each year. This past year, we raised $3,670 for the Dr. Hill Scholarship Fund. Dr. Hill was a former faculty member of ours who recently passed away and ASDA decided two years ago to hold the event in honor of him. The tournament is exciting as the eight GPGs at our dental school get to compete against each other! GPG 2 earned their title as defending champs this year!

Photos courtesy of Mary Jane Sweet

Dent Fest Dent Fest was a great time for us to learn about dental companies and the products they offer. We brought in around twenty different companies that each set up stations for students to receive the latest in dental products. Drinks and appetizers were served at the event to give students an opportunity to mingle and relax. Of course, raffles were announced at the end of the evening for some great prizes! 16

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Treating Those Afraid to be Treated By Heather Burbick â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;19


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As part of the dental education, students are prepared to encounter patients who may not particularly enjoy being at the dental office. In fact, the negative connotations associated with a trip to the dentist are so prevalent in the media that a patient experiencing some dental related anxiety seems almost standard. But what about a patient who is petrified of the dentist to the point where, although their mouth is decayed and the pain is almost unbearable, they avoid making an appointment at all costs? What about the patients who lie to their families saying they have gone to the dentist but really have not been in years because the fear of treatment is paralyzing? Where should the line between normal appointment jitters and a disorder considerably more serious be drawn? Dr. Louis Siegelman, a renowned expert in treating complex cases of dental phobias, explained that there is no one size fits all answer. The spectrum of dental phobias is so broad it makes each case a unique challenge. However, all humans share some instinctive sensitivity associated with their teeth. To demonstrate this, imagine eating dinner with friends when a noodle of spaghetti falls on your arm and they point it out –no big deal, wipe it off and move on. Now imagine that you’ve gone minutes talking with a chunk of tomato stuck in between your teeth when a friend finally points it out – this reaction tends include a pronounced sense of embarrassment. This heightened sensitivity to the aesthetics of the oral cavity region is normal; however, entering an intense panicked state of mind is not normal and indicates a more serious phobia.

Types of Dental Related Phobias

To complicate matters, the spectrum of dental related phobias is quite wide and encompasses many aspects of the dental office experience. There are the more obvious fears such as the fear of needles, pain, anesthetic, gagging and vomiting but there are also more complex sensory issues that may factor into these phobias such as the smell of the dental office, the feel of the chair or the sounds in the background. One of the most complex cases described by Dr. Siegelman included him treating a man who was afraid of the fear of pain – in effect; he was afraid of his own intrusive thoughts.

Treating Patients with Dental Phobias Dr. Siegelman stresses that the key to treating these patients is to have a fundamental understanding of who they are, what they are afraid of, and what it will take for them to feel at ease. Dental phobias may be linked to several causes such as an abnormally low pain threshold, a traumatic dental experience during childhood, or even embarrassment. More commonly though, they are linked to cases of abuse or hardships, such as having a bipolar parent. Painful memories involving these stimuli are stored in an area of the brain known as the amygdala that is responsible for triggering the fight or flight reflex. When reminded of these events, perhaps through feeling a lack of control in the dental chair, the patient will enter survival mode and let their reflexes take over in determining their behavior. This is why patients may bite the dentist or physically fight off the dental assistant – it’s a reflex. To overcome this hard-wired reaction, the doctor-patient relationship involves a strong level of trust and patience. Dr. Siegelman recommends working collaboratively with the patient’s therapist, counselor, and family to make breakthroughs in the dental office. If the patient progresses to where they will attempt dental treatments, he may utilize nitrous, oral sedatives, or intravenous sedation during the procedures to put the patient at ease.


It is important to acknowledge and identify this patient population. If a patient presents with severe anxiety, take a step back and listen to their language and re-examine the patient history. If a new patient has canceled several times, it may not be because they do not respect the doctor’s time but rather that they are terrified of being vulnerable in the dental chair. Understanding the patient in front of you is the first step in determining how to treat those who are afraid to be treated.


More assistance. Better opportunities. Greater stability. School has just started, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not too soon to explore career opportunities at PDSÂŽ-supported practices. Find out more today!

PacificDentalServices.com 1-855-JOIN-PDS JoinPDS@pacden.com

San Antonio Spotlight For the Foodies Out There


Aside from the colorful history and vibrant culture of San Antonio, people come from all over the world to snag a delicious taste of what San Antonio has to offer!

These are a handful of my tried and true restaurants that I love about San Antonio! From the simple treats to world renowned cuisine, San Antonio has it all!

[farmers market]


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If you're new to the area or have lived here your whole life, new restaurants are constantly popping up! Breakfast/Brunch: Pancake Joes is a local favorite and hidden gem. Most people haven't gotten to try breakfast classics cooked in the best way. San Antonians love breakfast and Pancake Joes knows how to serve it!

5PQQ\G #/ is new to town but definitely well versed in the language of brunch! The wait may take a bit longer, so try stopping by on a weekday! You're going to love their daily specials! Date Night:


is the perfect date spot at

any time of the year. Located in the center of the beautiful Pearl Brewery, what's not to love? The food is as delicious as it is beautiful. From homemade cornbread to perfectly seared seafood, Southerleigh is easily one of the best places to visit in San Antonio.

In the mood for pizza? Stella Public House and Braza Brava Pizzeria Napoletana make delicious, thin crust pizza. With high quality ingredients and scrumptious appetizers, you definitely should try both out!


Ming Things

By Kara Tapangan ‘19

Follow Kara's food journey on Instagram @karatapangan Delicious Grub: is a city favorite for greasy, delicious cheeseburgers. Between the melting cheese and perfectly paired toppings, you can't go wrong trying Chris Madrid's!

- Featured by the Food Network, The Cove is known for their organic ingredients and laid back environment. If you're in the mood for fish tacos, you have to check out this hometown favorite. Fine Dining: There's no doubt that

Bliss costs a pretty penny, but if

you're looking for a restaurant that's filled with extraordinary cuisine and a beautiful environment, Bliss is it! With a changing menu, you're always in for a treat!

Bella on the River is smack-dab in the center of the iconic River Walk! It's particularly beautiful at night when the River Walk is buzzing with people, laughter, and amazing energy!

Weekend fun: No words will ever effectively describe The Farmers Market at the Pearl. With organic fruits and vegetables, to music and puppies on the lawn, The Pearl is a must-see! If you're looking for a great way to spend a few hours with friends and family, check out The Pearl!


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cooking with

ASDA By ASDA Officers â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;20


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Cranberry Kale Salad Ingredients:


-6-7 cups washed kale

-1/4 cup orange juice

-3 tbsp rice wine vinegar

-2 tbsp soy sauce

-1/3 tsp ground ginger

-pumpkin seeds (to liking)

-dried cranberries (to liking)

-In a bowl, mix the orange juice, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and ground ginger together.

-Rinse and chop kale and add dressing.

-Add pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries over the salad, and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re ready to go!

Miso Chicken Bake Directions:


-2 lbs chicken thighs

-2 tbsp honey

-1 tbsp rice vinegar

-4 tbsp butter

-1/2 cup miso concentrate

-black pepper (to taste)

-Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

-Mix honey, rice vinegar, miso concentrate, butter, and black pepper in a bowl.

-Combine the paste and chicken, making sure it is mixed well.

-Place in a single layer on a baking pan and into the oven.

-Bake for 25-30 minutes or until chicken is golden brown and sauce is thickened.

-Enjoy right out the oven with the kale salad!

Easy Chocolate Sundae Directions:


-your favorite vanilla ice cream

-your favorite chocolate sauce

-3 tbsp of butter

-2 tbsp sugar

-4-5 mini tortillas

-1/3 tsp cinnamon

-Cut up tortillas into thin strips.

-Melt butter on a pan on medium heat.

-Add sugar and let simmer for 1-2 minutes.

-Add tortilla strips and toss until crisp and golden.

-In a bowl, scoop ice cream and top with tortilla crisps.

-Drizzle chocolate sauce and sprinkle cinnamon for the ultimate caries experience.


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From Tech Startup to Dental By Daniel Yates '18

Often times when people hear I used to run a technology start up, the first thing they ask me is, “Oh so is it like Shark Tank?” If you’re not familiar, Shark Tank is a show on ABC that stars billionaire Mark Cuban and other millionaire investors that have an interest in growing young businesses. Contestants on the show pitch their idea or company to the “sharks” who in turn, sometimes fight over who can make the best deal, if the company shows some promise. Most of the time the entrepreneurs get verbally chastised as the sharks explain why their lifelong dream product that they poured their life savings into will never succeed.

Constant Evaluation and Feedback One of the most important things in dental school and running a business is learning how to absorb feedback and improve yourself or your product. In our company, customer feedback is one of the most valuable inputs we consider when developing our product. It’s one of the key principles to the "Lean Startup" by Eric Ries, a successful serial entrepreneur that pioneered this school of thought. Companies that sell a successful product usually never get it right on the first try, but they’re set up to adapt and evolve quickly based on customer feedback so that they can use this data to shape their product (often called a “pivot”).

https://newentrepreneurship.files.wordpress.com/ 2012/11/build-measure-learn.png

ABC's hit show "Shark Tank" In some ways it is very actually but it’s also grossly overdramatized in others. It doesn’t show the day to day struggles of the company but merely just a glamorized and quick “elevator pitch”. In a lot of ways “Shark Tank” reminds me of the application process for dental school (albeit not nearly as intense) and the day to day activities of a startup are similar to life as a dental student.

Dental school is similar, especially in the pre-clinical years where you’re still learning and developing your hand skills and habits. Understanding faculty evaluation and criticism for daily assignments is crucial for developing your skill set so you don’t make the same mistakes again during a practical. In dental school, feedback is built into the very core of the curriculum and most programs spend a lot of time to make sure the lines of communications are open and clear. Just think about all the different criteria on your grading rubrics for a crown preparation.


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Deadlines and Constant Stress One thing the start up world prepared me well for was the unexpected deadlines and constant stress. In dental school it’s a never ending cycle of exams, practicals and daily projects. Or for those in the clinic: requirements, lab work, comps and Axium. Usually if you mess up or get behind, it causes a giant log jam in your life and results in late nights in the lab or the library. Most of the time it’s not really any major mistake of your own but a small blip that started out in your master impression and over time has amplified and grown into several additional appointments for an ill-fitting denture. Same thing in the start-up world. Not only do you have to address the needs of your customers, but you have employees, partners, lawyers, accountants and investors. Imagine standing over a pile of cash that’s just starting to catch on fire while you are trying to put it out with gasoline. And the cash isn’t yours. It’s just like in the clinic where you have to balance the needs of the patient, an impending deadline on a requirement and your faculty’s clinical judgment.

Early on though, we didn’t have any revenue, we just had a rough, minimum viable product that we felt satisfied a real need in the field of droplet microfluidics. How do we get them to understand that need, which in turn would drive the sales of our product? It wasn’t as simple as dropping off our patent paperwork and a super fancy slide deck.

Pitching my company to a room full of investors. None of them invested that day. Similarly, it can be a struggle when explaining a complex treatment plan to a patient. For them to accept the treatment plan, they need to understand why they need it, how it’s going to help them and why should they pay for it. To me, it begins with connecting with the patient or investor on a core value that we can all agree on. For example, good overall health or for the investor, return on investment. And then slowly bridging from there to how your treatment plan or your company is going to do that.

Final Words “Selling” Company





One of my greatest struggles at the time, as the CEO of a healthcare and technology startup is explaining the complexity of the product to an investor. Usually an investor doesn’t actually have to fully understand the product, but just needs to see the revenue.

While I sometimes miss the independence and the feeling of building something of my own, I cherish and appreciate the opportunity I’ve been given in dental school. It was my ultimate goal, despite life throwing me an opportunity that I had to explore. It’s easy to get caught up in the daily struggles of dental school and forget what a wonderful opportunity we’ve been given and what a great profession we’ve been called to.


UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry || 8210 Floyd Curl Dr., San Antonio, TX www.sanantonioasda.com

Profile for San Antonio ASDA

The Alamolar  

Vol 2 No 1 - fall 2017

The Alamolar  

Vol 2 No 1 - fall 2017