By Susan Braden
A virtual computer game has been developed to help dentists-in-training solidify their implant placement skills as they learn to replace missing teeth. This procedure is simply the surgical placement of an artificial tooth root into a patient’s jaw bone, a root which serves as the foundation for prosthetic teeth.
As reported in Medical News Today, the simulation program is designed to help dentists-in-training within everything from implant diagnostics and protocols to the actual treatment. The game was designed by the Medical College of Georgia in association with a game technology developer. Project director Dr. Roman Cibirka noted his excitement about the use of virtual programming to reinforce students’ understanding and to test their competence.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 25% of adults over 60 don’t have any of their natural teeth. In view of our aging population in need of implants, the use of this effective training program can help make the placement of implants a success for both future dentists and patients. As future patients use dental plans to save on implants, these specially trained dentistry students can become more affordable when they open their own practices.
The game uses several scenarios selected at random, with virtual patients that have different personalities resembling real people. The program allows students to interact with patients by asking them questions and examining their mouths. Dentistry students must diagnose and treat these patients according to their mental, physical and emotional needs.
If a subject is determined to be in need of implants, then the program moves into a virtual clinic where the student can choose the type of implant needed and perform its placement. Students can also choose where to use the anesthesia and what surgical tools to use. Cibirka noted that the program is so realistic that "If the student doesn’t place anesthesia in the right spot, the patient screams."
Experienced dentists anticipate that students will highly succeed with this program, gaining more confidence in a comfortable learning environment. The simulation is primarily intended to serve as a supplement to clinical training, and can be used most effectively in a dentistry student’s third and fourth years of schooling.
This video game will give dentists-in-training a better grip on the placement of implants, and having dental plans will make it affordable for future patients to visit these dentists and to discount expensive implants as much as possible.