Dentistry student Logan Henriksen performs a procedure on a mixed reality simulator. (Photo: USask College of Dentistry)
Dentistry student Logan Henriksen performs a procedure on a mixed reality simulator. (Photo: USask College of Dentistry)

High-tech simulators at USask create new reality for dental training

SASKATOON – The University of Saskatchewan’s (USask) College of Dentistry is the first Canadian dental college to acquire a leading-edge technology allowing students to develop and refine their skills as they drill, fill or clean the teeth of virtual patients.

Ten simulators have been purchased to provide students with a unique, hands-on learning experience in the college’s Mixed Reality Patient Simulation Learning Space.

Dr. Walter Siqueira (DDS, PhD), dean of the College of Dentistry, said the simulators illustrate the college’s commitment to providing dental training that is among the best in Canada.

“The college is doing important work in educating and training the next generations of oral health providers,” Siqueira said. “These simulators will expand the student experience. We are opening the door to new learning opportunities in our preclinical labs to better prepare students for their transition into direct patient care, first in the college’s Dental Education Clinic and later in professional practice.”

The simulator combines reality — an adjustable phantom head along with a high-tech handpiece and dental mirror — with virtual reality objects. Once a tool is activated and touched to the surface of the virtual tooth, students hear the whir and sense the vibration in their fingers. They feel the tool move across the tooth, they can track the progress of the work through the eyepiece, and they can even see small showers of virtual debris coming from the area of the work.

Providing an accurate depiction of the forces and feel involved in dental procedures contributes to an immersive learning experience. Users say the integration of high-level haptic (touch) technology into an augmented reality interface provides an experience that is close to an in-person patient procedure.

The way in which haptic technology is being applied to dental simulation is drawn directly from the aviation world. Mixed reality simulators are a significant advance from existing simulation methods that help prepare students to perform procedures on actual patients. Currently, dental manikins with acrylic teeth are used primarily by first and second-year students to learn skills in a preclinic setting.

Media opportunity

Members of the media are invited to learn more about how the simulators will benefit oral health and dental training. An opportunity to speak with college representatives and students and try your hand at virtual dentistry will be available:

Date: Friday, February 17, 2023
Time: 10:45 am to 11:30 am
Place: Dental Education Clinic, USask Campus

Media are asked to RSVP by Wednesday, Feb. 15, 4:30 pm, to Rod Drabble (contact below).


For media inquiries, contact:

Rod Drabble
Communications Officer
USask College of Dentistry

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