Technological advances have allowed simulation to become high-fidelity with an immersive virtual environment that may provide experiential learning. Studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of this teaching modality for procedures. Local injections are critical to providing dental care with minimal pain. Learning this skill is an essential component in all dental curricula and most dental schools require student-to-student practice injections. Unfortunately, there are risks associated. Many dental and medical curricula are incorporating simulation tools that assist in skills/task training and knowledge assessment that allow for repeat use, limit risks, and bypass the ethical issue of performing procedures with no obvious health benefits. We propose and describe a simulation method that may enhance the training of local injections.
Method: We developed a dental injection simulator of the inferior alveolar nerve, lingual nerve, and long buccal nerve blocks that incorporated the most cutting edge technology for 3D simulation and graphics with haptic feedback (SensAble Technologies Omni unit) in an immersive learning environment that is safe. Dental students learning the dental injections were asked to assess the educational tool with a survey (Likert scale). The results were compared to the surveys after the traditional training method (lecture, hands-on experience) which we established as baseline.
Fifty-seven combined responses were obtained. In 4/6 questions related to setup, knowledge base/understanding, and anatomy, the participants agreed that the educational tool was effective (60-93%) compared to the traditional method (effective by >90% participants). The participants rated adaptation skills and problem-identification less effective with the educational tool (20-33%) compared to the traditional method (60-70%).
Dental injection simulation provides a safe training tool that is an alternative for teaching injections. However, areas of improvement would include a more realistic haptic component. Further studies are necessary to assess the competency and confidence levels using this new educational tool.
Keywords: Anesthetics, Education research and Effectiveness
See more of: Education Research