An in-depth look at dentistry

Karla Martinez, right, watches as Dr. Alexandra Garcia, left, gives Bernice Sanchez a free dental checkup at an event organized by Colgate-Palmolive and the Hispanic Dental Association to encourage Hispanics to take charge of their oral health on Saturday, July 13, 2013 in Houston.

AP Images

Karla Martinez, right, watches as Dr. Alexandra Garcia, left, gives Bernice Sanchez a free dental checkup at an event organized by Colgate-Palmolive and the Hispanic Dental Association to encourage Hispanics to take charge of their oral health on Saturday, July 13, 2013 in Houston.

by EMILY SZPAK
Social Media Coordinator

Although we all hate it, it is somewhere we have all made a trip to – the dentist. Dentistry is one of the most important fields of medicine, though we often take dentistry for granted and forget how important it is to our lives.

We need teeth to eat and speak. Without our teeth, we would be unable to function as human beings. Keeping them healthy is a full-time job. Those who dedicate their lives to taking care of our teeth are brilliant doctors who have spent a long time in school, and are often under-appreciated. The classic joke is that “dentists are not real doctors”, but I bet there is a lot you do not know about the day-to-day obstacles of being a dentist.

I spoke with Dr. Allison Corapi, a dentist at Doctors of Dental medicine in South Brunswick for a couple years now. Dr. Corapi studied at Binghamton University. As a sophomore in college, she realized she wanted to enter the field of dentistry.

“I knew I wanted to work in the health care field, but wasn’t sure exactly what to do. I always liked working with my hands and being creative, so dentistry seemed like a good fit,” says Dr. Corapi.

After deciding her career path and finishing her undergraduate years, she attended dental school at Rutgers/The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Dr. Corapi later attended a residency at SUNY Stony Brook General Practice.

A lot of schooling right? Eleven years of schooling is real dedication. It did not all come easy to Dr. Corapi; however, the immense obstacles along the road never slowed her down.

Dr. Corapi says, “When I was applying to dental school, I was realizing how expensive it was all going to be. My dad kept telling me I wasn’t going to be able to afford it. People always said, ‘Why would you want to work in people’s mouths all day?’, but I ignored it and it all worked out.”

Dr. Corapi is now a dentist at Doctors of Dental Medicine, a successful practice in South Brunswick. She loves her job and her coworkers. Dentistry has become as rewarding a career as she expected it to be. She looks at her job as an artist, and mouths are her canvas.

Dr. Corapi says the most rewarding aspect of her job is “when a patient looks in the mirror and sees their improved smile.”

“I recently had a patient cry because she was so happy, it really made my day,” says Dr. Corapi. Clearly the most enjoyable part of her job is putting smiles on people’s faces, no pun intended.

It is not all fun and games for dentists, though. There are many hardships that come along with the job.

Many people do not enjoy going to the dentist or even have a type of fear when they go. Believe it or not, the doctors do not have any intention of hurting you. In fact, it pains some of them to bring pain to you. We forget that the pain is helping us in the long run, and the pain the dentist brings is dramatized.

“I really don’t like hurting people. Most people don’t like going to the dentist and are very nervous. I try my best never to hurt anyone but unfortunately it can be unavoidable. In the end, I know it was to help them,” say Dr. Corapi.

Dentistry deals not only with your health, but is a work of artistry. There have been recent studies that show that your dental health is even related to your heart health. Oral bacteria can play a significant role in the amount of heart plaque, which connected to heart disease. Visiting the dentist is no longer just about saving your smile, it could be saving your life.

Gum disease has some connection to heart disease and other serious conditions. Studies have found that individuals with periodontal disease are twice as likely to have heart disease. Studies continue to patch up the gaps, but it is intriguing to think your dentist could be saving your life. Perhaps dentists will be have a new found respect, and be treated like the professional doctors they are.

Around for hundreds of years, dentistry has certainly evolved over the years. You think it is painful now? Imagine a world with no numbing agents, or having your teeth ripped out for punishment. The toothbrush was only invented within the last 100 years. Now it is strange if you don’t own a toothbrush. Advances in medicine are the reason people are living so long today.

“I enjoy my job, I feel like I help people everyday. I also like the people I work with and I have built relationship with my patients. What I would really like to do in the future is own my own practice and be more involved in the business end of the profession,” says Dr. Corapi.

Along with being a doctor, there is a lot of business involved in owning your own practice, much like any business. There is no way to get the top without starting from the bottom. Dr. Corapi started in medical school like everyone else, and her goals are to one day run things on her own. A lot of respect is due to these dental doctors, who dedicate their lives to taking care of our mouths.

How has your perspective on dentists changed?