Ask The Staff – Dr Laurna Lambert

Current Year 3 student and brand new UBDSS President Sina Gilannejad (congrats Sina!) recently interviewed one of the Dental School’s newer members of staff, Dr Laurna Lambert.

1. What is your history in the dental field?
“It’s not been a long pathway because I’ve relatively only newly qualified. I graduated in Trinity Collage Dublin in 2012, which was great and I loved it, then after that I did my DFT in Bristol. The plan had been to go back to Trinity and specialise in paediatrics because I had an amazing supervisor in paeds who really inspired me but then I met my husband and life took a significantly different path for the better but delayed. Now I’m in a position again where I can look again at what I’m going to do again with my career.“

2. What is it about dentistry that gets you out of bed every morning?
“I think it really is the science which might be a nerdy answer, but it really is. I really like learning about the cellular aspect about the teeth. I really like learning about the cellular aspect of dentistry.”

3. Did you think you made the right choice when you first started dental school?
“Definitely. It really was, from the very beginning. For me the only choices for dentistry was Dublin or Cork and Dublin was easier to get to from where my family home was. I’m so glad I chose Trinity, it was amazing!”

4. Unsurprisingly, I found it hard to have a life outside of dentistry when I first started, did you ever find this to be an issue for yourself?
“I didn’t, and that feels wrong to say that but maybe it was because it was Dublin which was like a mini London in that it’s busy, career driven and everyone is working hard so you didn’t feel like you were missing out much and with the uni being right in the centre, everything was on your doorstep so you felt a part of the city even though you were a student. We also had a really small class, there were only 35 of us so we did everything together! We were all really close and would study and go out together. We were all on a similar level and wanted the same thing so we enjoyed being good friends without competitiveness.”

5. If practising dentistry became illegal, was there ever another career that would’ve caught your interest?
“Yes, if I hadn’t of done dentistry I would of been a French and chemistry teacher! I loved French and chemistry in secondary school, they were my favourite subjects and I was going to actually do that until I realised that you couldn’t have done them as a joint degree. It actually was quicker to be a dentist than do a French degree and then chemistry on top of that.”

6. What was one of your least favourite moments in dentistry to date?
“Not only was a bad moment, but it was also on Christmas eve AND it was my first year as an associate in practise! So I had done my VT… I was a dentist… this was my first real job. I was alone in the practise and a patient needed their UR6 taken out. So, everything’s going fine and then I was elevating and I hear *SNAP* and I just thought, oh dear… So i had managed to get the two buccal roots out attached to the crown, fine, great, fantastic I thought to myself… now just to flick this palatal root out and we’ll all be fine, job’s a good’un. Then I’m putting the elevator into the PDL space just by the palatal root… and it disappears.”

Sina – “the elevator disappears?”

“Nope, the root.. it was gone. Straight into the sinus. That was it, what could I do! Never seen that patient since.”

Disclaimer: Dr. Lambert would like to emphasise this is NOT the correct way to manage an antrally displaced root. The patient should be urgently referred to the nearest Oral Surgeon/Oral Surgery department for surgical root removal with appropriate verbal and written advice. Luckily for Dr. Lambert, her friend was working on-call Oral Surgery when this occurred, so she had someone to emergency phone that fateful Christmas eve, and learn from her mistakes!

7. Reflecting on it now, what would you tell past you to make that moment easier?
“For that particular incident, my coping mechanism was pretty poor. I just cried and got upset, panicked. Looking back now, I wish I had just had the confidence to step outside for a minute. In the heat of the moment, I let my emotions get the better of me and I should have just realised; right, this has happened, you have time, you don’t need to fix this straight away. It’s not an emergency, the root is in the sinus, you have time to collect yourself, your thoughts and be professional to handle this properly.”

8. Where would you like to see yourself 20 years down the line?
“So 20 years down the line, I’ll be 50. In my head now, that feels like the second part of my life. A second go or part two of my century. I’ve got big plans!”

9. As a lecturer, you make it easy to stay awake during an 8am lecture. Is teaching something you enjoy?
“I hadn’t really appreciated that dentistry would have covered the teaching I wanted to do when I applied. I thought to myself that actually this is going to be what I always wanted to do my whole life when I couldn’t decide, how incredible! But, because I’m so new to it, I’m definitely still a novice at teaching, I’ve a lot to learn but already since August 2019, I’ve learned so much. I definitely hit the ground running when it comes to teaching but it helps that everybody is so nice. When there is a good atmosphere, it makes you want to be more helpful and there is a lot of responsibility to make sure that we are giving you the most up to date evidence based practise, which is great because that motivates students to be their best selves. So in that aspect, we are helping each other. I am going to go to a teaching course, TLHP, because if I’m going to commit to this, then I’m going to do it properly.”

10. If you were a tooth, which tooth would you be?
“I have a few different options but if I have to be brutally honest, if I was a tooth I would be a cheeky little maxillary lateral incisor because it is a very insignificant tooth in that you could very easily function without it inside your mouth but, it’s tucked nicely behind the central and not showing off as if to say look at me I’m all dominant in the smile line! yet without it, the smile line doesn’t work. I had a supervisor at uni and he was very cool and charming, I just wanted to be him. He was in his 70’s and he had a partial gold veneer in the distal aspect of his UR2 and I thought it looked so cool and I just wanted it!”

11. Who would be your favourite person to sit in your dental chair?
“Oh, in any scenario, the Queen! Not because I’d love to treat her, just because I’m curious and would like to meet her. But realistically, my husband. He is just so easy to treat and he never complains!”

12. Is there a patient that you will remember for the rest of your life?
“Yes. My first single root endo case. She was the chattiest person I’ve ever encountered. I think it took 12 hours total to complete one single root RCT (3-hour clinical sessions over 4 different appointments). Every time I tried to fit the rubber dam she say “oh just one more thing I have to tell you before you put that on” and she’d tell me a really long detailed story about something that had happened to her that week. She was an English lit student and the nicest, friendliest person. I really struggled to like her at the beginning but by the end of her treatment she was one of my favourite patients! Our Endo Lead at Trinity specifically came to me to see if I wanted to take on one of his patients-I was so proud, “he must think I’m great!!” turns out he just couldn’t get her to shut up so pawned her off on a student with significantly more time to spend chatting than he did!!”

14. What is a sure way to make you happy, even when having to supervise me on a Monday morning?
“A smile! Enthusiasm and gratefulness for the privileged position we’re in treating patients on ADH. Not many people get this opportunity and we’re lucky to get to help & educate our patients and each other, together as a team.”

Sina – I would like to thank Dr Lambert for being so welcoming and engaging with all the questions!

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