UCC Dentsoc | 3rd year
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3rd year


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Time to brush up

Going into 3rd year you will be expected to be competent at history taking including patient history, bleeding on probing scores, plaque scores, CPITN probing, DMFT, brushing techniques (Modified Stillman & Modified Bass), Flossing, Interdental cleaning, Diet advice, Smoking cessation advice. Review these before your first clinical session. There will be lots of reading before your practical sessions (OTL, Prosthodontics Lab, Clinic) and it’s a really good idea to make sure you have it done.

What to expect

Student 1:

Most people really enjoy 3rd year. It is mostly practical based, you get to know your class, and especially your group really well. If you are finding the practical side difficult, don’t hesitate to ask your instructor, class mates or members of older years to give you advice. 3rd year is a huge learning curve, introducing you to the run of CUH and dealing with patients upstairs in the Restorative Clinic.

Student 2:

3rd year on the whole is completely different to the two prior years, with a huge emphasis on a the practical side of things. This is really exciting, as for the first time you get to bring your friends and family in as patients, and it is the first time you feel like a “real dentist”. Many students find the first few weeks/ months difficult as you still are trying to get to grips with how things work in the Dental Hospital. You really do feel like a fish out of water! The main thing is to remember that you are not alone, and just ask questions! Staff and other students have no problem helping you out- and you are NOT expected to know everything in third year! Once pathology and pharmacology lectures finish up you have quite a bit of free time – a bit like 1st year all over again! One of the hard things about third year is that the class is split into groups and it is these people you spend most of your time with. It’s not necessarily a bad thing as you do grow extremely close to your group, but it is hard as you might not see some people who aren’t in your group for weeks.

At the start of 3rd year you will be expected to pay €4000 to the Dental School for the use of instruments, CSSD and materials. Typically this is payable by cheque in the 1st or 2nd week. During the summer you need to collect extracted teeth from dentists which you will need for OTL in the first or second week back. You need to order your patient’s chart and instruments at least before 3pm the day before. For a scale and polish you will need: Materials: basic kit (cotton rolls, 3in1, suction), gauze, perio (prophy, cup, disclosing tablet), vaseline Instruments: slow handpiece, perio kit (this has exam kit + scalers), ultrasonic Before you have a patient in for the first time, it is a good idea to review Dr. Allen’s introduction lecture.

You will need three pairs of scrubs for third year, and you will need to keep everything you do during third year. This includes marked schedules for OTL and Pros, and X-rays for endo. Organisation, organisation, organisation!!


At the start of 3rd year you will be expected to pay €4000 to the Dental School for the use of instruments, CSSD and materials. Typically this is payable by cheque in the 1st or 2nd week.

What you need from the start

Below are a few things that students found handy to have for specific sessions.


Prosthodontics OTL Clinic
Lab coat Dental loupes* Notebook or address book (make note of patient’s CDS)
Storage box (tool box) Teeth stored in jar with milton Template for history taking
Super glue Box for your mounted teeth Blue & Red pens (plaque & bleed scores)
Lighter Plastic A4 folder for marking sheets Clip board
Sharpie marker Notebook for tutorials Hand mirror
Colouring pencils (blue, green, red especially) – not markers Pencil for drawing on teeth Mini calculator

*Dental loupes are optional. Half of the current 4th years have them and find them very useful. We ordered through Medlite USA via the international students in our class. They us cost roughly €185 with a discount.

Label everything from the start with your initials. Presentation is very important, so keep things neat and consistent. For the mounted teeth, make sure you label the block with tooth number and mesial, distal, buccal, palatal/lingual. If you want to replace a tooth in your typodont (manikin teeth), these are available from Ann Marie in the Restorative Clinic office for €2.50. For endo, label all your radiographs as you go. For clinic, keep record of your patient’s CDS, name and what treatment you do (with dates) – it will really help to keep track of your requirements.

Bring a travel mug to college and leave it in your locker. Most of us have tea bags or instant coffee in our lockers! There is hot water in the student computer room and milk at coffee dock.

Tips for the restorative clinic

Order your materials and instruments a few days before (at least before 5pm day before).
For exam, S&P you will need:
Materials: basic kit (cotton rolls, 3in1, suction), gauze, perio (prophy, cup, disclosing tablet), vaseline
Instruments: slow handpiece, perio kit (this has exam kit + scalers), ultrasonic
Treatment sheets are available at the top of the back stairway. Click HERE for examples of the sheets you will need for each patient (including when you work on eachother), with some details filled out as you will need to.
Make up a history template and use this from the start. Click HERE for an example. You will be expected to provide a thorough and well organised (and neat!) history. Go through each section methodically and get your partner to remind you of any questions you omit. In no time at all you will know the list off the top of your head!

Helpful Readings & Textbooks

Restorative Dentistry:


Carrotte et al. (2004). Endodontics

Curtin et al. (2011). Breaking Bad News

Davenport et al. (2000). RPD design

McConnell et al. (2011). FAQs in Restorative Dentistry


Pickard. Manual of Operative Dentistry – BUY THIS! Read this to keep up with whatever you covered in OTL that day. This will help you greatly in all RD exams throughout the year

Patel – The Principles of Endodontics – Simplifies and clarifies a lot of concepts!

Prof. Iain L. C. Chapple & Gilbert – Understanding Periodontal Diseases

Meechan – Practical Dental Local Anaesthesia – Not a fan of the way it was laid out. I would’ve preferred a book with a lot more pictures and more to the point.

Wassel – Applied Occlusion 

* Iain, Meechan and Wassel are available on the Apple iBookstore as ebook versions as well as many other quintessence series books.



Rang & Dale – Pharmacology – Really useful resource; if you have it from 2nd year, definitely hold on it.

Drug Prescribing for Dentistry – Great pdf on pretty much all drugs a dentist may have to prescribe for all relevant situations; **PT3021 does not examine you on drug dosage.

Yagiela, Dowd – Pharmacology and Therapeutics for Dentistry – Most people didn’t buy this and managed just fine.



Soames – Oral Pathology – All of the oral pathology notes and lectures are based on this textbook, provides a lot more detail than the notes

Robbins – Pathological Basis of Disease

What to hold on to

orallayoutYou will need to present EVERYTHING from your OTL & Prosthodontics Lab sessions at your oral exam in June. Hold on to and label everything (name, student number, group) so that you are not frantically searching a few weeks before. Right: An example setup for the oral.

Booking in patients

At the start of the year you will work in allocated pairs and can bring in friends and family as patients if wanted. Patients are also available from the 3rd year list which is managed by Ann Marie in the Restorative Clinic office. Use the phone in the restorative clinic to contact patients. If you can’t speak to the patient directly, leave your name and call back again. Do not give any personal or treatment information to anyone other than the patient. If you need to give directions, offer to email the patient this: Directions to the Cork Dental School.

Modules & Exams

Student 1:

You will have 5 modules this year. Pathology and Pharmacology will be an extension of what you learnt in 2nd year. You will be expected to be able to draw on what you learnt previously, so review last years topics if needed. Each will have continuous assessment exams (MCQ and/or EMQ), and you should take these seriously. These percentages will really help you towards your final exams. In Pharmacology this year there is a prize for the best mark – see the Dr. Anne Wilson Award in the awards section. Typically only a small number (1 or 2) students will get a 70 in Pharmacology this year.

There are 3 modules in the dental subjects:

  • RD3002: OTL and Prosthetics Lab
  • RD3005: Oral and written exam
  • RD3006: Restorative clinic & OSCE

The marking scheme for some of these modules will be new to students. In OTL, Prosthetics Lab & Clinic, you will be scored as follows:

Score Equivalent % Notes
4+  70 These rarely happen!
4  65 If you are excellent!
4-  60 The odd time
3+  55 Most of the time
3  50 Most of the time

Considering the way the marking scheme works, you can expect that in general your score for the RD3002 module will fall between 50-60% if you have got 3s, 3+s and 4s during the year. So don’t get a shock on results day!

In the oral, you will present all of your OTL and Prosthetics lab things from the whole year. You will be allocated examiners before the exam and make sure you know their topics in detail. You can’t expect though that you won’t be asked on other topics, so make sure you also know everything about Caries, Dentures, Composite vs Amalgam etc.

In the OSCE anything can happen! You normally have around 13 stations, with one of these being a rest station. You typically are given 2 role plays which can include Behavioural Science (Rapid relaxation and/or Patient scenario), Law (even though it is not part of this module, we got a bullying situation), Patient advice (smoking, diet, OHI etc). You are given a reading station before a case scenario, so use this time to formulate what you will say. Each station lasts 5 minutes and a buzzer will ring to tell you to move on. Other topics that have been asked in the past are denture cleansers, toothpaste ingredients, putting on a matrix band & wedge, putting on rubber dam, uses of rubber dam, cross-infection control video (what is wrong with it), clean or setup chair, sharps disposal (what goes in there), special tray (what are the features or what is wrong with it), draw a survey line and clasp on a specific tooth image, root canal access cavities and so on. You will be given a sample list a few weeks before but this list is definitely not everything!

You are required to score 60% or more in the RD OSCE and Oral at the end of the year to pass.

In OTL and Prosthetics Lab you will sit 7 exams in total. If you fail more than 3 you will be called back to repeat practical sessions in August.

Student 2:

Pathology: (10 credits) This module is taken with the med students, and on the whole was more interesting and easier to learn than the 2nd year module, as you were learning the pathology of the different systems (cardiovascular, git, respiratory, neurology, oral pathology etc). Sometimes it did feel like it was geared towards the medical students but we (thankfullly) don’t have to do renal, reproduction and the systems that don’t involve us! There is an MCQ exam in October, and thankfully the end of year paper was in December. It was sweet to get this done and dusted in the first semester and really eased the pressure for the summer exams.

Pharmacology: (5 credits) Again, this module was a lot more dentally relevant this year, which many students found easier to learn and more interesting too. The module co-ordinator is Dr. Orla Barry, who is absolutely fantastic at what she does. She really loves her subject and will bend over backwards to help you out if you are having trouble. She gave our class an extra tutorial before the MCQ in February and covered subjects we had already done in lectures that some students were finding difficult. The module is quite broad, and like pathology, is taught by many different lecturers. Unfortunately, the lectures take place at 8.30 in the morning – before your day even starts! The module finishes early enough, at the end of January. You also have a written summer exam, which was quite fair. Dr. Barry also gave a tutorial before this exam where she goes through how the paper is marked, what she is looking for to pass, get honours, and a first.

RD RD is split between several modules:RD3002 Practical Restorative Dentistry (20 credits) RD3006 Development of Clinical Skills (10 credits) RD3007 Theoretical Basis for Clinical Dentistry (10 credits) RD3008 Behavioural and Ethical Dental Practice (5 credits)

RD3007- Theoretical Basis for Clinical Dentistry Lectures were held from August to December, and was very broad – including Periodontics, a series of lectures from Dr. Frank Burke including caries, non-carious loss of tooth structure and contemporary cavity design, Materials, Local Anaesthetic, Prosthodontics, to name a few. They changed the format for us this year, to MCQ and SAQ. We sat this exam in the first semester. The module covered the theory of what we need to know for upstairs on clinics.

RD3002: OTL and Pros. Prosthetics is taught by Mr Hallisey, with tutorials and complementary lectures given by Prof Allen. You have three exams in this module in the year which involve making a wax rim, surveying a cast and doing out a prescription sheet and another completing a upper and lower wax arrangement. There is a nice atmosphere in the Prosthetics lab, and had to remind you of art class sometimes, with colouring pencils and melting wax creating the denture shape of your choice. You also have different assignments/tasks to do throughout the year and these get graded and go towards your end of year mark. OTL is split into three main sections, in the first semester you are learning to do resin composite fillings, after Christmas is amalgam and root canals. You have a competency exam at the end of every section, which- once passed allows you perform these on actual patients. Many people found this part of the course stressful as it isn’t always easy picking up manual skills. Tooth morphology is important for this module and the demonstrators have such high standards. At the time it can be really stressful but once you come out of OTL and go upstairs to do real fillings you realise it was actually a brilliant thing as they turn you into perfectionists without realising! It’s also important to remember the reason they are being so specific with instructions of what they are looking for is because we are learning dexterity skills. It is easy to look around and feel like you are falling behind your group, but everyone ends up at more or less the same standard at the end of the day! Also, just because you find composites difficult does not mean you will find the same for the other sections as they are all completely different to each other.

RD3006- Development of Clinical Skills: You have one weekly session where you are paired up and you take turns bringing in patients. In the first semester you are doing gingivitis cases, and the second semester is a mix of completing fillings and gingivitis cases. You need to have 3 maintenance cases (gingivitis patients who have been brought back a second time, more than 6 weeks later) and 3 fillings done to pass the module before a certain date at the start of June to pass this module. This module is examined by an OSCE in May/June. There are 15 different stations (1 or 2 rest stations) and they ask you a wide variety of things you will have learned throughout the year on clinics. The pass mark is 60%. In 2015 some of the stations included: rubber dam, setting up and giving local anaesthetic, breaking bad news, tooth brushing, 2 x pros stations, BPE, charting, X-ray -diagnosis. There wasn’t anything we hadn’t come across before but it was a stressful exam. There are great notes made out by students on Google Drive so make sure to look at these as they cover many stations. Also, the list of stations given out by Dr. Allen a few weeks before more or less covers everything asked.

RD3008- Behavioural and Ethical Dental Practice: This module started in the second term and had four main sections- Behavioural Science, Law and Ethics, Oral Health Development and Endodontics. Behavioural Science lectures and tutorials are given by Dr. Sharon Curtin and is really interesting. She covers subjects like anorexia, phobias and anxiety, mood disorders, breaking bad news and rapid relaxation. You get to put these into practice with your group, which is definitely a new experience! Endodontics is taught by Dr. Graham Quilligan in a few short lectures. Many students found the BDJ articles really, really useful in giving an in-depth explanation of everything. Dr. Kieran Doran covers subjects like Health and Safety Law- including workplace bullying in his few lectures and his exam question is very fair, as usual. Dr. Mairead Harding teaches the last section which includes Dental Disease and lectures on Diet and Fissure Sealants. There is quite a bit of information in some of her lectures but there is some cross over from previous modules, so some of the material is familiar. It is examined in April /May after the Easter break and study week, and was a very fair paper, 4 questions one from each topic, the only issue here was getting everything done in the assigned time.


– Make sure you get EVERYTHING signed off after your clinic session, it will all add up

– You will be required to have 3 maintenance cases and 3 fillings complete by a specified date (usually early June).

– Maintenance cases are patients who have been seen twice (or more), who have had gingivitis and shown to improve (want < 25% plaque). The first time you see the patient it is coded as “S&P” and if improved on the 2nd visit it is coded as “Maint”.

– Fillings cases are 3 separate fillings. The number of surfaces doesn’t matter for this year but they will contribute to 4th & 5th year so get as many as you can.


Brought to you by Anna Stuckenberg, Aisling Whitaker, Anand Iyer & Máiréad Hennigan