OBJECTIVE: This pilot study aimed to investigate the perceptions of dental students and their tutors of a deliberate simulated practice using patient-specific virtual and three-dimensional (3D) printed teeth models. This is before they perform their first indirect posterior tooth restoration on their patients.
METHODS: Seventy-eight fourth-year dental students from the 2021 Comprehensive Clinic I course at the University of the Andes, Chile, were invited to participate in a deliberate practice protocol. This consisted of digitally scanning their patients' teeth, printing the files three-dimensionally, and loading them into a virtual reality (VR) dental simulator to create patient-specific models. Subsequently, they practiced the same indirect posterior restorations on these models before performing them on their actual patients. Perceptions about students' preparedness to perform tooth preparations before and after the protocol were collected from students and their tutors through surveys.
RESULTS: Sixty-three students (43 female) and six clinical tutors (all male) participated in the study. Before practicing with their patient-specific models, most students believed they had the knowledge, practical skills, and self-confidence to perform indirect restorations on their patients. However, after the protocol, most students thought their self-confidence increased and felt better prepared to treat their patients. Most students preferred the 3D-printed models over the VR models to practice but mentioned that it did not feel like drilling dental enamel. Tutors believed that participating students had higher self-confidence when treating their patients and were more autonomous.
CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrated that students and clinical tutors had positive perceptions of practicing with patient-specific virtual and 3D-printed teeth models before students performed their first indirect restorations on their patients.
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© 2022 American Dental Education Association
- 3D printing
- clinical training
- dental education
- virtual reality