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3D head and neck dental training becomes a reality

An innovative 3D device will simulate dental procedures and could become a valuable tool in teaching new dentists.

Researchers in Scotland have produced the first anatomically correct head to be used in training to provide a more accurate experience for dental students.

Commissioned by NHS Education for Scotland and created by Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio (DDS), the head allows practitioners to manipulate and interact with it in real-time.

First Minister Alex Salmond unveiled the innovative product, stating, “I am delighted to be launching this hugely exciting venture that could transform medical and dental training by giving students an opportunity to learn about human anatomy using virtual reality tools.”

Reassuringly, dentists who tested the device said that despite years of practice they felt more comfortable administering injections having used the simulator. This is excellent news for those with little experience who can build up a bank of procedures without setting foot in a surgery.

Minor operations can take place on the head to test they are being performed successfully and safely. Dentists and patients should be more confident as the 3D training kicks off at universities in the near future.

Mr Salmond went on to highlight the importance of Scottish research, saying the country is “leading the way when it comes to 3D visualisation”. The life sized model includes fully accurate visualisations of the skeleton, nervous system, blood supply, muscles, supporting tissues and lymphatic drainage.

Professor Paul Anderson, director of the DDS, said the scheme was “one of the most important multidisciplinary research projects undertaken by the Digital Design Studio to date”. The device is groundbreaking for universities who can allow their students to get the most out of their dental training experience and overcome uncertainties before entering the field.

Such technology could also revolutionise training in other disciplines outside of dentistry. NES dean for Dental Education, Dr David Felix, said that the “user friendly resources” could also lead the way in other healthcare professions.

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