In which I go to the AAPD in Boston (Part II)

After a lobster-roll induced nap, the residents went to catch a game at Fenway. I knew we’d be back later in the week for the AAPD party, but there would not be a game that evening and while I’m no big fan of baseball, I am a big fan of drinking a beer outside in an iconic stadium.

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Sometimes you just have to Instagram..

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Kat, Bri and I

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They played (and sadly ended up losing to) the Toronto Blue Jays, which was appropriate because we had Janice as our token Canadian among a bunch of Americans. David, Jane, Jim, Kari, Janice, Christine and myself.

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We could not have gotten luckier with the weather. The only other game that week, the next night, was almost rained out!

We could not have gotten luckier with the weather. The only other game that week, the next night, was almost rained out!

The next day I wandered down to the Boston Public Library. It had free wifi while our hotel did not, but mostly I wanted to study in a pretty place.

The next day I wandered down to the Boston Public Library. It had free wifi while our hotel did not, but mostly I wanted to study in a pretty place. I was not disappointed

Its reading room reminded me of studying at Duke. I spent a few hours here listening to the most enjoyable biostatistics lecture of the year.

Its reading room reminded me of studying at Duke. I spent a few hours here listening to the most enjoyable biostatistics lecture of the year.

Since I had skipped a few MPH classes to make the trip, I needed to catch up to take the online quiz due during the conference. Fortunately Thursday was rather rainy and most other people were slowly making their way into the conference, so I didn't miss much.

Since I had skipped a few MPH classes to make the trip, I needed to catch up to take the online quiz due during the conference. Fortunately Thursday was rather rainy and most other people were slowly making their way into the conference, so I didn’t miss much.

The next day I was able to catch up with all the UNC kids who I graduated with and went into pedo. Most of them are finishing up: just Kevin and I are in three year programs, his at UNC. Rebecca is finishing up at Pittsburgh Children's, Taylor is finishing at Baylor and Chance is finishing at UF-Naples. Not pictured here because her flight was delay: Allie who is finishing at UAB and Logan who missed the conference for a cousin's wedding is finishing up at MUSC. So proud of them all!

The next day I was able to catch up with all the UNC kids who I graduated with and went into pedo. Most of them are finishing up: just Kevin and I are in three year programs, his at UNC. Rebecca is finishing up at Pittsburgh Children’s, Taylor is finishing at Baylor and Chance is finishing at UF-Naples. Not pictured here because her flight was delay: Allie who is finishing at UAB and Logan who missed the conference for a cousin’s wedding is finishing up at MUSC. So proud of them all!

UNC reunited

UNC reunited

Meeting up with Allie and Kevin

Meeting up with Allie and Kevin

Pediatric Dentistry is a small group - it was so fun to know so many people and keep running into them again and again - like here with Chance and Allie at the AAPD Reception at Fenway on Friday.

Pediatric Dentistry is a small group – it was so fun to know so many people and keep running into them again and again – like here with Chance and Allie at the AAPD Reception at Fenway on Friday.

One of my favorite professors/Master's committee member Johann Aps and I at the Fenway party. He is from Belgium, so I tried to explain baseball briefly to him, but I think it's better if we try to catch a Mariner's game at some point.

One of my favorite professors/Master’s committee member Johann Aps and I at the Fenway party. He is from Belgium, so I tried to explain baseball briefly to him, but I think it’s better if we try to catch a Mariner’s game at some point. At this time in the evening I was so happy I had brought a coat – it got chilly once the sun went down!

The next day was filled with poster presentations by the graduating residents. I'm so proud of these people!

The next day was filled with poster presentations by the graduating residents. I’m so proud of these people!

The conference nights ended (for us anyway) with the school-specific receptions. I am fortunate enough to be welcomed to both the UW and UNC parties. At the UNC one I was able to catch us with my wonderful mentor Dr. Martha Ann Keels and her associate Kerry Dove. Kerry, Tayler, Martha Ann and I make up one of my favorite groups of women: undergrad at Duke and UNC dental. Despite our rivaled pedigree, it's no secret who we cheer for: GTHC, GTH!

The conference nights ended (for us anyway) with the school-specific receptions. I am fortunate enough to be welcomed to both the UW and UNC parties. At the UNC one I was able to catch us with my wonderful mentor Dr. Martha Ann Keels and her associate Kerry Dove. Kerry, Tayler, Martha Ann and I make up one of my favorite groups of women: undergrad at Duke and UNC for dental. Despite our rivaled pedigree, it’s no secret who we cheer for: GTHC, GTH!

The next day I split from the rest of the group to swing by the Boston Commons once more on the way to the airport. When my little brother was serving in Afghanistan, one of the members of his group, LCpl Matthew Rodriguez was killed in action. He was from Boston and his family has done a lot of the area in Matthew’s name, including contributing to the Memorial Day flag tribute on the Commons.

I stopped by to pay my respects, both to him and all those who have given their lives. Standing, arms crossed, next to my bags packed for the plane, in the last of my clean clothes, I was thankful for my sunglasses to hide some of my sobbing. Cities pool a large number of mentally ill people who do weird things in public, so I hoped I blended in, or at least didn’t attack too much attention. So many flags, standing for so young men and women. Too many flags. The juxtaposition of all that loss with families playing in the sunshine on a that Sunday afternoon was all at once beautiful and crushingly unfair. With Graham safely home I was awash with fresh survivor’s guilt and overwhelmingly thankful at the same time. Memorial Day to me, had never meant so much.

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In which I go to the AAPD in Boston (Part I)

Whew! It has been a busy two months! Every time I feel like I sit down to write, I’ve either felt a) overwhelmed at the amount I need to catch up on or b) like there were much more important things I needed to do (like a data analysis projects for biostats). Now that a lot of traveling, finals, graduation and a major conference are finally wrapping up I feel like I can catch up and start to enjoy our 18-hour summer days.

First things first: I’m a horrible blog parent again. I missed the blog-oversary on May 21st.

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We’ve been viewed by 81 different countries – 9,660 views total! This is completely insane. Also, if you know one of the 56,370 people in Greenland, please send this blog to them.. it’s such a large blank space on the map.

To be fair the reason I didn’t write about it was that I was on a red-eye to Boston for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists’s annual meeting. It was my first large dental conference (besides the North Carolina and Washington state ones) and I had so much fun catching up with old friends from across the country. Dentistry itself is a small community, and pediatric dentistry is even smaller and I’m so privileged to be colleagues with all these wonderful people.

Since we braved the red-eye, it meant we had a whole day to explore Boston before everyone else descended. I hadn’t been in such a long time (road trip to Canada in 2005 with Jeff and a church choir tour sometime circa 1997), but I remembered enough to get my west coast friends around.

I miss a good set of public transportation (though DC remains my favorite). Seattle is building a light rail, but 2016 is too long to wait for it!

I miss a good set of public transportation (though DC remains my favorite). Seattle is building a light rail, but 2016 is too long to wait for it!

Obligatory Boston Public Gardens shot

Obligatory Boston Public Gardens shot

We did not ride the popular duck boats in the Garden, but they were fun to watch

We did not ride the popular duck boats in the Garden, but they were fun to watch

After several cups of coffee (when did I become so dependent on the stuff? Oh wait.. living in Seattle will do that to you, plus, the red-eye), Bri, Kat and I conquered the Freedom Trail:

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Sometimes it's a little hard to trace.. but you just have to spot a group of tourists looking down to find your way back.

Sometimes it’s a little hard to trace.. but you just have to spot a group of tourists looking down to find your way back.

Quincey Market is Boston's version of Pike Place.

Quincy Market is Boston’s version of Pike Place.

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Walking by the harbor on the North End.

Walking by the harbor on the North End.

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I swear the Atlantic smells different than the Pacific, though Bri and Kat said I was crazy. It smells richer, muddier, and more well-worn than the bright Pacific, but there is something so homey in its salty breeze.

I wish I had had more time for refreshing my Revolutionary War knowledge prior to the trip. I had to settle for watching AMC's new series TURN about George Washington's spies.

I wish I had had more time for refreshing my Revolutionary War knowledge prior to the trip. I had to settle for watching AMC’s new series TURN about George Washington’s spies.

The Old North Church - of One if by Land, Two if By Sea fame.

The Old North Church – of One if by Land, Two if By Sea fame.

Inside the church. I could actual remember the first couple of lines from Longfellow's poem, "Listen my children and you shall hear..."

Inside the church. I could actual remember the first couple of lines from Longfellow’s poem, “Listen my children and you shall hear…”

Always a Delta Gamma.. I can't resist a good anchor.

Always a Delta Gamma.. I can’t resist a good anchor.

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US Constitution - the oldest ship still commissioned. It was used in the War of 1812.

USS Constitution – the oldest commissioned navel vessel still afloat. It was used in the War of 1812.

My mom immediately guessed where I was when I sent her this. I think her love of Boston infected me as well.

My mom immediately guessed where I was when I sent her this. I think her love of Boston infected me as well.

Atop Bunker Hill

Atop Bunker Hill

After walking the entire Trail from the Back Bay neighborhood where we were staying, we decided to take the T back.

After walking the entire Trail from the Back Bay neighborhood where we were staying, we decided to take the T back.

Lobster rolls were in order for lunch - we were in Boston after all! And for all the delicious seafood out in Seattle, we don't have lobsters.

Lobster rolls were in order for lunch – we were in Boston after all! And for all the delicious seafood out in Seattle, we don’t have lobsters.

Eating a lobster roll in my lobster dress!

Eating a lobster roll in my lobster dress!

I found this at a clothing exchange a few weeks ago that some girls from the MPH school hosted, and I was so lucky it fit! It was the perfect  dress to play Boston tourist in.

I found this at a “Naked Lady” party a few weeks ago hosted by some girls from the MPH school, and I was so lucky it fit! It was the perfect dress to play Boston tourist in. These parties sound a lot dirtier than they are: it’s really just a bring your clothes that you’re tired of and exchange them for new ones event. They’ve promised to do another one before school starts and I can’t wait.

In which I know they’re going to do great

My co-residents are taking the AAPD written boards tomorrow and checking off one giant item from the graduation to-do list. I’m sad I won’t be in the trenches with them, but I know they’ve been studying hard and will do beyond awesome. Good luck y’all!!!

CPD faculty and staff helped us wish them good luck :)

CPD faculty and staff helped us wish them good luck 🙂

In which I’m back in the lab

I spent a little over a year after college working for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, one of the National Institutes of Health. There are 27 Institutes and Centers, mostly located in Bethesda, MD – I however was at one of the outliers (sometimes I joke that it was the “reject”) located in Research Triangle Park, NC. I look back at that time fondly, where I lived in a tiny apartment in south Durham and visited Jeff on the weekends when he was a 1L at Wake. It was a good gap year, filled with the moderate stress of applying to dental school and the milder stress of learning to be an independent adult.

My lab photo. I know this file is slightly corrupted - it was salvaged from my very old computer.

My lab photo. I know this file is slightly corrupted – it was salvaged from my very old computer and a lot of those pictures were sadly damaged.

Under my Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) I had several different projects in the Darryl Zeldin lab, the main one being a randomized control trial to look at reducing dust mite allergens in the homes of allergic children. This required spending hours driving all over eastern NC pre-GPS, vacuuming up dust from peoples’ homes and administering lengthy surveys whose questions I asked so often, I almost had them memorized.

2008 Elise carrying the very large vacuuming equipment bag.

2008 Elise carrying the very large vacuuming equipment bag.

Melanie (who visited us last summer) was my trusted companion during these sometimes long trips (and sometimes stalkerish ones – we had to wait outside a lot of houses until the participants finally showed up). We were a perfect match: I was applying to dental school at the time and she was applying to physician assisting school, we both had a love of public health, we both were in long term relationships (and ultimately end up marrying those boys), we could spend hours in the car lost in rural North Carolina and not panic and we both loved to detour to Krispy Kreme whenever it was close by.

On the trail for dust mites.

On the trail for dust mites.

Celebrating the end of our dust mite chasing career in Costa Rica before heading off to our respective schools.

Celebrating the end of our dust mite chasing career in Costa Rica before heading off to our respective schools.

Also, it was fun to have another girl to escape the lab with. When I wasn’t out sucking up dust from beds and carpets, I was analyzing it in the lab (using ELISA mostly). My fellow IRTAs were two guys: Will who is now a orthopedic resident and Chad who is a laboratory equipment rep (and for a time sold the brand of pipettes I use the most, so I think of him every time I pick one up).

End of the year picnic with Will on the left and Chad on the right.

End of the year picnic with Will on the left and Chad on the right.

I learned some great lab skills while there – skills I honestly thought I’d never use again. Sure, in dental school we had a microbiology lab, but that was only one quarter and it was pretty easy and as far as lab skills go, it was amateur stuff. Now that my research here at UW and SCH is picking up finally, I’m in the lab once more, processing samples to analyze them later for bacterial DNA, saliva pH and buffering capacity and little proteins called antimicrobial peptides which fight cavities. It’s appropriate that I’m once again working with spit because that was my other main project at NIEHS: collecting saliva samples and seeing if kids who had more cavity causing bacteria had lower rates of asthma and allergy.

Maybe I've been out too long, but there's something kind of beautiful about well placed lab equipment.

Maybe I’ve been out too long, but there’s something kind of beautiful about lab equipment.

Tiny labels make me happy.

Tiny labels make me happy.

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There's something soothing to lab work. Follow the recipe. Be precise. Don't mess up.

There’s something soothing to lab work. Follow the recipe. Be precise. Don’t mess up. Repeat.

Balancing the centrifuge is the tiny scale version of trying to balance the washer during the sheets and towels load.

Balancing the centrifuge is the tiny scale version of trying to balance the washer during the sheets and towels load.

I'm glad to be back in the lab again, I just need my pipetting thumb to regain it's old callous soon.

I’m glad to be back in the lab again, I just need my pipetting thumb to regain it’s old callous soon.

I’m a little slow right now, but things should start to pick up soon as I get more used to the new process and new environs. It’s good to be back.

In which March has been busy

The quarter system, in addition to being an arduous sprint, also means that finals happen the week in March of our anniversary/my birthday. No fun! That week used to be called Spring Break and it was an awesome oasis in the middle of a long, rambling semester. Now it’s a week where I have finals and then take a break in which I do residency and not just classes-plus-residency. This all is just really an excuse for why I haven’t updated in any substantial amount lately. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Kindergarten Class Visit

Kindergarten Class Visit

February was National Children’s Dental Health Month and I got to go speak to our dear friend Andrea’s Kindergarten class on choosing healthy snacks for teeth and the important of oral health. Along with the requisite toothbrushes and toothpaste I packed up some healthy kid snacks and some animal models to practice brushing.

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This picture of my animal models is either adorable or terrifying depending on who you ask.

The kids were amazingly sweet and knew a lot of answers to my questions from having completed the Weekly Reader in the morning (I was so excited that they still have those!! but they don’t smell funny like like I remember. They’re also not on the old recycled paper with the smudgy ink).

I handed out carrots, popcorn, grapes and cheese to demonstrate healthy snacks for teeth

I handed out carrots, popcorn, grapes and cheese to demonstrate healthy snacks for teeth

I got the sweetest thank you note from the class - definitely going to go on the fridge at home.

I got the sweetest thank you note from the class – definitely going to go on the fridge at home.

My visit made me very thankful that there are kindergarten teachers in the world - I can handle one child for a few minutes, but they are seriously miraculous on teaching 25 kids for a whole day!

My visit made me very thankful that there are kindergarten teachers in the world – I can handle one child for a few minutes, but they are seriously miraculous on teaching 25 kids for a whole day!

This is shaping up to be one of the wettest Marches on record in Seattle. As of today we’ve have 8.02″, almost at the 8.40″ record set in 1950. Every now and then we get some sun breaks:

A rare sunny afternoon between classes.

A rare sunny afternoon between classes.

The key to surviving the winter here is to soak up any sun where you can find it. This is me shedding my heavy coat for some vitamin D.

The key to surviving the winter here is to soak up any sun where you can find it. This is me shedding my heavy coat and cardigan for some vitamin D.

Anytime there is some sun I try to stand for a little bit outside in it. This day found me near the Montlake Cut between Lake Union and Lake Washington

Anytime there is some sun I try to stand for a little bit outside in it. This day found me near the Montlake Cut between Lake Union and Lake Washington

March has also been the month of finishing up my provisional year requirements with the Junior League of Seattle. I can’t say enough good things about the women in my small group and I’ve enjoyed getting to know more about the community. My main project with the League this year has been with the Kids in the Kitchen committee where we teach elementary school kids at the Boys & Girls Club about cooking healthy meals. Our March event was a success and I’m excited to tackle the April one with the rest of the provisionals on the committee:

My greatest challenge each time is not the actual cooking, it's setting boundaries so we can all take turns helping prep.

My greatest challenge each time is not the actual cooking, it’s setting boundaries so we can all take turns helping prep.

March in the Sarvas household is full of celebrations: We celebrated the Cotton Anniversary on the 10th and my 29th birthday on the 14th.

I know having a themed anniversary is probably some commercialized gimmick, but it sure makes giving gifts easier. Fancy wrapped paper and sparkler from Flourish in Greenwood.

I know having a themed anniversary is probably some commercialized gimmick, but it sure makes giving gifts easier. Fancy wrapped paper and #2 sparkler from Flourish in Greenwood.

In keeping with theme I got Jeff (and I) a hammock and I made him some pocket squares. He gave me a luxurious set of cardigans.

In keeping with theme I got Jeff (and I) a hammock and I made him some cotton pocket squares. He gave me a luxurious set of cardigans.

We had the traditional celebratory cupcakes from Trophy: Red velvet, PB&J, Salted caramel and Guinness stout chocolate.

We had the traditional celebratory cupcakes from Trophy: Red velvet, PB&J, Salted caramel and Guinness stout chocolate.

For my birthday Jeff gave me truffles as we had already had too much sugar from the cupcakes. Also, we forgot to put the sparkler in the cupcakes, so it only looks like I'm celebrating my second birthday.

For my birthday Jeff gave me truffles as we had already had too much sugar from the cupcakes. Also, we forgot to put the sparkler in the cupcakes, so it only looks like I’m celebrating my second birthday.

I’m not sure why I have such an obsession with maps or with National Parks, but Jeff found the perfect present to meld these two: a map where we can check off the National Parks as we visit them! It speaks to my love of geography, of traveling and of checking things off lists – it’s perfect.

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I’ve already started planning how we’re going to fill it it: Next time we’re in Nashville, Mammoth Caves is only 2 hours away and we could check off Cuyahoga when we’re in Pittsburgh. Else wise I think a major road trip should be in the works!

That about rounds out where I’ve been instead of writing on this blog. Hopefully this next quarter will allow for some more time to explore and report back. Especially now that I’m officially done with call and won’t have to park here anymore (though I always kind of felt like a badass when I pulled in):

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In which I felt the need to respond

I saw this on my twitter feed today:

I tried to embed it here: Tenn. reporter gives parents good tips to protect their kids' teeth from decay http://t.co/nMBgzmIoWF #Dentalisfundamental @karennazorhill— CDHP (@Teeth_Matter) February 5, 2014

..and got excited. A paper from my home state was highlighting children’s oral health – particularly applicable since February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. But then I read the article, linked here, and was sadly disappointed.

If you have nothing better to do with your day, my response that I emailed to Ms. Hill is pasted below:

Ms. Hill,

First I would like to thank you for highlighting the importance of children’s oral health for the Chattanooga community. Early childhood caries (cavities) is the number one chronic disease affecting young children and establishing a healthy mouth promotes overall well-being.

I am concerned that parts of your article are inadvertently dismissive of the current recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Academy of Pediatrics that children see a dentist by age one and do not fully emphasize the importance of dental care for children:

The entire anecdotal section about Dr. Joseph Brogden’s interaction with his grandson is not applicable to many patients. Dr. Brogden is a general dentist and unfortunately is disseminating and reinforcing false, outdated information about children’s teeth (as quoted by his daughter as saying: “…it really isn’t necessary to get kids to the dentist too young. After all, baby teeth do fall out”). The reason that we currently recommend children seeing a dentist at age one is because all too often when they are seen at three, four, five years old or later, they already have cavities that need to be fixed. Sadly, emergency room visits for children because of tooth pain are on the rise and dental disease contributes to thousands of lost school days each year.

Cavities in baby teeth can quickly spread to the nerve of the tooth and then into the bone which can damage developing adult teeth and cause life threatening infections. Many times this necessitates having the baby tooth pulled, and then it no longer holds space for the permanent tooth that will come in when the child is 11 or 12, which can cause crowding. Young patients are particularly challenging as highlighted by your article. Children do not often want to sit in a dental chair and fixing even small cavities on their baby teeth before they get larger is often impossible. Without good preventative measures, it is often necessary that children have surgery under general anesthesia or sedation to fix their cavities, which comes with its own set of risks.

By seeing a child early and often, dentists can help parents prevent cavities and monitor a child’s growth and development. Dr. Charles Ankar highlighted helpful hints that are useful for parents, but I’m afraid that the consequences of not following these guidelines were not forthcoming in your article.

Quotes from parents saying that going to the dentist is both difficult and a waste of time and money is unhelpful for the general public (“I thought it was a total waste of time and money and put Shad and I in a power struggle of ‘you must sit for the dentist’ that we just didn’t need. I won’t take Knox for many years, unless, of course, there is something that needs to be checked out”). For some children, going to the dentist is difficult, but so is getting necessarily immunizations from their pediatrician. Pediatric dentists are dentists who have gone to dental school and then completed an additional two years of training afterwards, and are a good resource for scared kids. They have been trained in techniques to help familiarize children to the dental environment while providing age appropriate care. I was disappointed that you did not include any pediatric dental specialists in your article. As for early visits being a “waste of money”, it is much cheaper to see a dentist for preventative cleanings and exams than to fix cavities (especially under general anesthesia) or be seen in the emergency room for tooth pain.

Again, I am very thankful that children’s oral health is being highlighted by the media, so I do not mean for this letter to be disparaging. I am only concerned that the importance was not properly conveyed. The answer to the question posed in the title of your article should have been a clear, unequivocal “age one” in order to prevent undue morbidity, and rarely but tragically, mortality. February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, when the American Dental Association raises awareness about developing good habits for a lifetime of healthy teeth. This however this is clearly an important public health issue that needs to be addressed year round.

Sincerely,

Elise Sarvas, DDS

Pediatric Dental Resident and Master of Public Health candidate at the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital in Seattle, Washington

Native of Oak Ridge, Tennessee

In which we MATCHed new residents!

MATCH day was Monday and I’m so excited to welcome a new class of excellent residents to UW! They’re the last class I’ll get to be co-residents with, so they hold a special place in my heart (though who are we kidding, I love all my co-ressies so much and they all have special places). Between the residency interview process and the Duke Alumni interviews I’ve been conducting over the past few weeks, I’m very thankful that I’m not on that end of either application cycle. So excited to meet our new co-ressies in June!

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From us: Kari, Ian, Matt, Jane, Karin, Tiara, myself, Kat, Gloria, Karen and Bri – WELCOME! We’ll try to find some sunshine before you get up here.