• 25 JAN 22

    VR / robotics the future of training dental professionals?

    When asked, a lot of dental professionals will say that the hardest part of their professional journey was training. After all, while written information has its own difficulties, the practical side of dentistry requires patience, precision and a number of other talents to be at a very high level in order to provide the best patient care.

    However, the main problem is that it’s difficult to practise these skills regularly unless you have someone to practise them on. We also need to take into account that training often does not give us the opportunity to understand the patient perspective.

    In the UK, we are increasingly treating an ageing population who are keeping their teeth for longer. In fact, there are now almost 12 million people in the UK aged 65 or over, making up almost 20% of our population. This figure has been projected to increase significantly over the next 50 years as medical research continues to improve, estimating that there will be an additional 8.6 million people in this age bracket – equivalent to the total population of London.[i]

    Understandably, with age comes a number of complex challenges to oral health. Older patients are not only more prone to decay, but are also more likely to experience gum disease, receding gums, dry mouth and other problems that can fast impact their quality of living.[ii] We also need to take into account that these patients may have numerous other problems stemming from their advanced age, such as hearing loss, less dexterity and lack of mobility, all of which can impact how we as professionals provide dental care for them.

    So how can dental professionals be trained to cope with the demands of a growing demographic? Traditional training rarely takes into account that patients could be elderly and frail, which is why my interest was piqued when I came across an article describing the use of virtual reality (VR) to train dentists for these situations.

    According to the article, a specific VR training simulation tool has been created for dentists which convincingly mimics the physical, visual and auditory experience of an elderly, frail patient with complex needs.[iii] When tested on qualified dental professionals and those still learning the trade, the VR system was found to help improve confidence in treating elderly patients with complex needs among both students and qualified dental professionals.

    This is an interesting find as it really does show that VR is a viable way to enhance understanding of patient needs.

    Of course, this is just one example of potential VR use in dentistry, and as the technology for this software continues to improve, it’s likely that VR training will become something that all dental professionals and students of the profession can benefit from.

    An article I came across discussing the subject offers a brief insight into the further potential of this technology. The piece states that due to the endless versatility of VR, it could easily be adapted to train dental professionals in a number of areas, whether this is helping to sharpen our skills or aiding us to better understand patients with different conditions such as ADHD or anxiety – all without putting real life patients at risk of harm.[iv] If this comes to fruition, the future applications of VR are considerable – not only as a clinical educational tool but one that can really help us gain a better emotional understanding of different patients. This means that we would be far better prepared to connect with patients who have complex needs or conditions that traditionally have raised challenges.

    In a similar vein, I also want to take a closer look at robotics and the development of dental androids for use in training. Some may remember that around ten years ago a number of dental androids were created – there was even a viral video of one hilariously malfunctioning that was widely shared on social media. But where are we now? It seems that unlike VR, development into dental training robots is taking a slower, more measured route in order to help professionals train in a new way.

    The original android from over a decade ago has experienced a number of upgrades, and with the help of developers from the “love doll” industry, now has a number of interesting new features such as much more realistic skin, and sensors in parts of its body that alert professionals when they accidentally lean on them during treatment.[v]

    While these upgrades are arguably smaller in scope than the vast interest taken in VR, I would venture to say that robotics could still have their place in dental training, especially if these androids continue to become more sophisticated.

    In the end, both VR and robotics are exciting innovations that could change the face of dentistry as we know it, particularly with regards to training. Who knows, in ten years or so we may see universities full of androids and VR training systems – only time will tell!

     

     

     

    For further information please call EndoCare on 020 7224 0999

    [i] Age UK. Later Life in the United Kingdom 2019. Link:  http://www.ageuk.org.uk/globalassets/age-uk/documents/reports-and-publications/later_life_uk_factsheet.pdf [Last accessed March 21].

    [ii] Daily Caring. Top 5 Dental Problems In Older Adults: Symptoms and Treatment. Link: https://dailycaring.com/5-top-dental-problems-in-older-adults-symptoms-treatments/ [Last accessed March 21].

    [iii] BMC. Using Virtual Reality to Train Dental Professionals. Link: https://blogs.biomedcentral.com/on-medicine/2021/03/11/virtual-reality-train-dental-professionals-isrctn/ [Last accessed March 21].

    [iv] Dentistry IG. Virtual Reality’s Potential as an Education Tool in Dentistry. Link: https://www.dentistryiq.com/dentistry/article/14180624/virtual-realitys-potential-as-an-educational-tool-in-dentistry [Last accessed March 21].

    [v] Dentist.net. New Robotic Patient Helps Train Future Dentists. Link: https://www.dentist.net/pages/dn-article144 [Last accessed March 21].

Endocare Root Canal Specialist London - Embarrassing Bodies

Click on the link above to see what happened when we were invited by Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies to treat a patient who was suffering from an extreme case of  teeth grinding.

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Patient Testimonials

Thank you very much for the wonderful work you did for me. I can smile again!

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Zita Drew
This is just to thank you for the root-canal treatment which you carried out on my tooth last Tuesday afternoon. All has now settled down and I can chew on the tooth as normal. I think that we both had a tough ninety minutes last Tuesday but for me it ...

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David Thomson
Thank you so much for looking after our nanny Noelia! Thank you also for offering her such a generous discount for your excellent treatment. She asked me to pass on her thanks also. With best wishes.

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Quentin McCoach
Thankyou so much for once again saving a difficult tooth!!  Another thankyou is due to you for your gift to my daughter of the recipe book written by your aunt. Noelle returned to Dubai with the book firmly tucked under her arm. She returns in July for the summer and ...

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Sheila Ferris
Just a quick but BIG thank you all for making what was a frightening and miserable procedure into an experience I could hanle. If there had been more people like you all, I would have a much healthier mouth. It was a pleasure meeting you and your kindness is much ...

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Georgia F
I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you and Mr. Sultan for the excellent patient care I received last week. My reluctance to proceed with the surgical treatment was apparent, but with your advice and reassurance, I am sure that I made the right decision. The procedure, though ...

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Anne
Thank you for treating my dental pain, it was a great relief! Thank you also for the care I received while visiting your practice.

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Fraser Gray
Just to say thanks for the coffees & friendly, supportive chats. You certainly helped to take the edge off a stressful time for us.

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Rod & Sue Witheridge

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Harley Street Root Canal Clinic
99 Harley Street
London
W1G 6AQ

Contact this Clinic:
Call us: 0207 224 0999
Email us: CLICK HERE

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Richmond Root Canal Clinic
4-6 George Street
Richmond
Surrey TW9 1JY

Contact this Clinic:
Call us: 0208 912 1340
Email us: CLICK HERE

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EndoCare - Root Canal Specialist London - Post

  • Root Canal Treatment

    You may require root canal treatment if you have pain or swelling associalted with your teeth.

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  • Endodontic Microsurgery

    Using the latest surgical techniques we help save teeth even if root canal treatment is not possible.

    • 25 JAN 22

    VR / robotics the future of training dental professionals?

    When asked, a lot of dental professionals will say that the hardest part of their professional journey was training. After all, while written information has its own difficulties, the practical side of dentistry requires patience, precision and a number of other talents to be at a very high level in order to provide the best patient care.

    However, the main problem is that it’s difficult to practise these skills regularly unless you have someone to practise them on. We also need to take into account that training often does not give us the opportunity to understand the patient perspective.

    In the UK, we are increasingly treating an ageing population who are keeping their teeth for longer. In fact, there are now almost 12 million people in the UK aged 65 or over, making up almost 20% of our population. This figure has been projected to increase significantly over the next 50 years as medical research continues to improve, estimating that there will be an additional 8.6 million people in this age bracket – equivalent to the total population of London.[i]

    Understandably, with age comes a number of complex challenges to oral health. Older patients are not only more prone to decay, but are also more likely to experience gum disease, receding gums, dry mouth and other problems that can fast impact their quality of living.[ii] We also need to take into account that these patients may have numerous other problems stemming from their advanced age, such as hearing loss, less dexterity and lack of mobility, all of which can impact how we as professionals provide dental care for them.

    So how can dental professionals be trained to cope with the demands of a growing demographic? Traditional training rarely takes into account that patients could be elderly and frail, which is why my interest was piqued when I came across an article describing the use of virtual reality (VR) to train dentists for these situations.

    According to the article, a specific VR training simulation tool has been created for dentists which convincingly mimics the physical, visual and auditory experience of an elderly, frail patient with complex needs.[iii] When tested on qualified dental professionals and those still learning the trade, the VR system was found to help improve confidence in treating elderly patients with complex needs among both students and qualified dental professionals.

    This is an interesting find as it really does show that VR is a viable way to enhance understanding of patient needs.

    Of course, this is just one example of potential VR use in dentistry, and as the technology for this software continues to improve, it’s likely that VR training will become something that all dental professionals and students of the profession can benefit from.

    An article I came across discussing the subject offers a brief insight into the further potential of this technology. The piece states that due to the endless versatility of VR, it could easily be adapted to train dental professionals in a number of areas, whether this is helping to sharpen our skills or aiding us to better understand patients with different conditions such as ADHD or anxiety – all without putting real life patients at risk of harm.[iv] If this comes to fruition, the future applications of VR are considerable – not only as a clinical educational tool but one that can really help us gain a better emotional understanding of different patients. This means that we would be far better prepared to connect with patients who have complex needs or conditions that traditionally have raised challenges.

    In a similar vein, I also want to take a closer look at robotics and the development of dental androids for use in training. Some may remember that around ten years ago a number of dental androids were created – there was even a viral video of one hilariously malfunctioning that was widely shared on social media. But where are we now? It seems that unlike VR, development into dental training robots is taking a slower, more measured route in order to help professionals train in a new way.

    The original android from over a decade ago has experienced a number of upgrades, and with the help of developers from the “love doll” industry, now has a number of interesting new features such as much more realistic skin, and sensors in parts of its body that alert professionals when they accidentally lean on them during treatment.[v]

    While these upgrades are arguably smaller in scope than the vast interest taken in VR, I would venture to say that robotics could still have their place in dental training, especially if these androids continue to become more sophisticated.

    In the end, both VR and robotics are exciting innovations that could change the face of dentistry as we know it, particularly with regards to training. Who knows, in ten years or so we may see universities full of androids and VR training systems – only time will tell!

     

     

     

    For further information please call EndoCare on 020 7224 0999

    [i] Age UK. Later Life in the United Kingdom 2019. Link:  http://www.ageuk.org.uk/globalassets/age-uk/documents/reports-and-publications/later_life_uk_factsheet.pdf [Last accessed March 21].

    [ii] Daily Caring. Top 5 Dental Problems In Older Adults: Symptoms and Treatment. Link: https://dailycaring.com/5-top-dental-problems-in-older-adults-symptoms-treatments/ [Last accessed March 21].

    [iii] BMC. Using Virtual Reality to Train Dental Professionals. Link: https://blogs.biomedcentral.com/on-medicine/2021/03/11/virtual-reality-train-dental-professionals-isrctn/ [Last accessed March 21].

    [iv] Dentistry IG. Virtual Reality’s Potential as an Education Tool in Dentistry. Link: https://www.dentistryiq.com/dentistry/article/14180624/virtual-realitys-potential-as-an-educational-tool-in-dentistry [Last accessed March 21].

    [v] Dentist.net. New Robotic Patient Helps Train Future Dentists. Link: https://www.dentist.net/pages/dn-article144 [Last accessed March 21].