The Dentist Magazine.

Training dentists of the future

Published: 10/04/2017

Sherwood Forest Hospitals and Health Education England unveil virtual reality training for dentists of the future.

Dentists of the future will be able to practice their drilling and filling using virtual reality patients at Nottinghamshire's King's Mill Hospital. The postgraduate dental training suite at the hospital, run by Sherwood Forest Hospitals (SFH) NHS Foundation Trust, is the first post-graduate institute in the country to use the Moog Simodont dental trainer.

The Simodont offers a high-resolution, three-dimensional image combined with a dentist’s drill handpiece that has highly realistic computer controlled feedback, so that students get a realistic sensation and an exact feeling of the objects and materials they are working on.

Trainees can now improve skills and techniques before they move on to the real thing. Sherwood Forest Hospital, in partnership with Health Education England – East Midlands, is investing £120,000 in three simulators as part of plans to establish the East Midlands as a centre of excellence for simulated dental training. Up to 70 post-graduate dentists a year are expected to practice their basic techniques using the technology, along with up to 30 more experienced dentists wishing to refresh individual skills or dentists returning to practise after a career break.

Andrew Dickenson, postgraduate dental dean, said the range of procedures and treatments available will increase as the simulator technology grows. "This is a first for postgraduate training in the country and only a few university undergraduates will have had access to anything similar,” he said. "Drilling away decay, filling cavities, root canal work and building up chipped and broken teeth will build into more complex cases as training modules are added.”

The company behind the technology, Moog, will develop more and more scenarios in conjunction with SFH that will be shared around the world.

"And it's not just for beginners – many post-graduates spend the first part of their careers in hospitals working on quite complex cases, such as reconstruction work for cancer patients and people who have suffered serious injuries. They might then need to refresh their basic skills before moving to dental surgeries on the high street. We now have the flexibility to build skills and refresh techniques at all levels."

The three simulators will add to the existing skills lab at King's Mill Hospital.

Lee Radford, deputy director for training, education and organisational development at SFH, said, “As a trust we already have a well established reputation for having some of the best multi-professional training and education facilities and training provision in the region. “We are extremely proud to be chosen to host this state-of-the-art dental simulation training facility and look forward to continuing our successful partnership with Health Education England – East Midlands Dental School, working together to take dental education and training to the next level by equipping our dental workforce with new skills and knowledge to deliver high quality patient care.”