Friday, December 11, 2009

Day in the Life of an Orthodonist

I'm actually a dentist, not a doctor. I practice orthodontics in the hospital and am a mother to a 20 month old girl. and I'm in Singapore, half a globe away from you gals in America. but hey, life are surprisingly similar between mothers in US and mothers here! 

Me – 32 year-old hospital based orthodontist in Singapore, who just finished her residency not too long ago.
Husband – 34 year-old general dentist who has his own clinic and works full time.
Daughter – 20 month-old toddler who spends her days playing, eating and sleeping.

7:30am IPhone vibrates under pillow, telling me it’s 7:30 and time to wake up.  No alarm clock allowed in the bedroom because daughter co-sleeps with us. (Can you tell that I am a fan of Dr Sears?) Shower and get ready for work while husband and daughter are still sleeping.
8:00am Tell the nanny what to cook for lunch. Daughter wakes up and wants to play with me. Tell her mommy needs to work. Daughter cries when I leave the house. Serious mommy guilt.
8:15am Reach the hospital. Change into scrub. First patient is already waiting for me.  We usually schedule the long cases in the morning – first consultation, surgical consult, setting up the braces, taking out the braces. In between patients, I check my email, review some xrays, and prepare the powerpoint presentation for my orthognathic surgical case.
10:00am Coffee break. On the way to the 7-11, see a toddler crying and shouting in the patient waiting area  – “No dentist! Want go home!” (I am sure at least half of the grown-up patients there feel the same way too.)
10:15am See more patients.
11:30am Case conference where the orthodontists, oral maxillo facial surgeons, plastic surgeons and sometimes speech therapists, social workers meet to discuss and treatment plan complex dentofacial deformity cases like cleft or syndromic cases. Usually the residents will present their cases first – to allow ample time for pimping.  Ah, those were the days. I present my case near the end of the conference when everyone just want to finish up and go for lunch.
12:30am Lunch time.  Drive home to have lunch with daughter. (I live very near to the hospital – 3 minutes drive to be exact.) Play with her, breastfeed her (Attachment parenting, remember?) and put her down for her nap.
1:30pm Back to work.  Afternoon are reserved for short reviews for routine cases. Most teenagers prefer to come around this time (after school and before dinner) to have their braces adjusted.  Each patient is only allocated a 15 minutes slot so I have to work really fast.
4:30pm Leave the hospital for husband’s clinic. I moonlight there three times a week to earn some extra moola – we have a mortgage to think of and the hospital does not pay me very well. 
6:00pm Dinner with husband at some cafĂ© near his clinic. Catch up on each other’s day. Call home to make sure daughter is eating her dinner.  (Don’t worry – we still have family dinner altogether on those days when we don’t have evening clinics. I read this article. )
8:30pm Finally home. Shower with daughter and read her bedtime story.  One fish two fish by Dr Seuss. Put daughter to bed with more breastfeeding. I fall asleep next to her (the beauty of co-sleeping) with my iphone under my pillow – so it will wake me up again the next day.



  1. I really enjoyed this post. It never occurred to me (don't know why not) that orthodontia was a part of hospital based dentofacial interventions...anyway, that said: (and I am making this point only because it was drummed into my head for practically an entire lifetime) Dentists, Physicians, Professors, Theologians....we are all "doctors". If we all worked very hard at advanced degrees, we all deserve the honorific. So I guess my point is, Maybe first sentence should read "I am a dentist, not a physician..."
    Years and years of my Dad saying (somewhat bitterly) "I am too a "real" doctor"

  2. I am very impressed by your breastfeeding! Awesome job momma!

  3. Amazing post! Ortho, M.D., whatever. We are all doctor moms just trying to survive. Looks like you are doing a decent job.

  4. What a small world. Love your post. I'm a Malaysian in the US working as a Pathologist. I also love Dr. Sears, co-sleep, do extended breast-feeding. We have 3 kids.


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