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Article by Virtual Worldlets Network
All forms of professional interaction can potentially benefit from practice, practice, practice. Virtual environments offer such, so it is no surprise that a long line of dentistry training simulations have existed. One of the latest, born out of teamwork between both faculty and students at Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry, together with the professional simulation developers BreakAway, attempts to virtualise the entire process.
The Virtual Dental Implant Training Simulation Program or VDITS is designed to help students in diagnostics, decision making and treatment protocols. However, its use is ultimately limited because VDITS is a fishbowl VR interface, not an immersive one - it expects participation via monitor screen, mouse and keyboard, rather than a full on virtual experience, at least at this stage.
Still, there is a large body of evidence, backing the feeling that any worker in the health care field who practices clinical skills via simulation has better patient outcomes than one who doesn't. So, any level of simulation is going to help. Already, after just 18 months of development time, the program's usage has been sought by 20 dental schools in the Nobel Biocare University Partnership Program. This summer it will be launched at 25 universities worldwide, potentially reaching 15,000 dental students.
The simulation deals with doctor-patient interaction skills, through a wide range of possible scenarios, and NPC avatars with different problems. The dentist makes the patient comfortable, reads medical notes, and embarks on general chit-chat to relax the patient. Assuming the student is successful, the next part of the procedure is to operate on the mouth. The simulation switches seamlessly to a 3D model of that individual's mouth, with the problems indicated by their notes, exhibited somewhere in the mouth. Students must select the proper tools, and diagnose, then attempt to fix the issues presented.
The simulation even includes the use of dental screws to addix prosthetic teeth. Students decide the type, location and orientation of the implants, type and location of anesthesia and tools for surgery. If the student fails to anethetise the right place before operating, the virtual patient will feel the cuts made, and responds by screaming out and howling in agony.
Simulation helps students learn dental implant procedures