Researchers at the schools of dentistry and engineering are collaborating to develop a 3D computer training system -- PerioSim -- using haptic virtual reality technology.
"Haptics is the science of applying touch sensation and control to computer applications. It allows the user to 'feel' what is pictured on a computer screen," states a UIC press release.
What does that mean for dental education?
Dental students will be able to feel sensations as they perform various periodontal procedures using a stylus connected to the system that resembles a dental instrument.
"We can enhance the learning and training of a wide variety of tasks or procedures using this system," said Dr. Arnold Steinberg, a professor of periodontics at UIC and project leader, in a press release. "The need to practice on mannequins, animals, and patients can be significantly reduced, and in some cases, eliminated entirely."
A recent study in the Journal of Dental Education found the PerioSim to be a potentially useful devise for dental education."Faculty/practitionersfound the images very realistic for teeth and instruments, but less so for gingival," notes the study abstract. "Tactile sensation was realistic for teeth but not so for gingival."
The system allows students to choose different procedures to practice, and instruments to use. Instructors can also create short scenarios of periodontal procedures, which can be saved and replayed.
"Today's dental schools are faced with rising costs, faculty shortages and an overloaded curriculum," said Dr. Steinberg in the press release. "Haptic-based simulators such as the PerioSim require less initial investment, maintenance, and replacement of parts than earlier generation mannequin-based simulators and are more versatile."
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