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Skill of Drill

According to the Star Tribune the University of Minnesota dental school is opening a $9.5 million simulation clinic for students.

The clinic will allow for students in their first two years of the four-year program to work with mannequins that are outfitted with virtual-reality-based technology. This way they will be able to practice their skills on an advanced machine that will give them feedback before they actually practice on live patients.

The new clinic is a vast upgrade from the old "teeth-on-a-stick" system that lacked movable cheeks and lips.

There, the student can see how this drill work compares with an ideal cut, both in shape and in depth. And instead of having to wait to be graded by a faculty member, the students get instant feedback from the computer. (Star Tribune)

"It's the closest you can get to a real patient," Fourth-year dental student Mohit Sharda said. "And the good thing is that if you mess up, you can take the tooth out and put a new one in."

Beeps alert the students in they have done something wrong such as drilling too deep or leaning too much on the mannequin.

Dental school dean Dr. Patrick Lloyd said that some dental schools that already have simulation units in place find that students learn more quickly."They will have refined their drilling proficiency," Lloyd said, "and they can spend more time focusing on the peripheral needs of the patient and they'll have more confidence." (Star Tribune)