Skip to main content
QUB InterSim Logo

Evaluation of a Virtual Reality (Simulated Clinical Treatment) program for Undergraduate (Year 2) Dental Students

Oral Presentation 4
Dr Lorna Dysart, Ms Amanda Jackson, Dr Amanda Willis, Dr Stephen Adair

Evaluation of a Virtual Reality (Simulated Clinical Treatment) program for Undergraduate (Year 2) Dental Students

Introduction: Traditional teaching in operative dentistry involves the use of phantom heads/jaws incorporating single-use plastic teeth to enable students to develop clinical skills in a Clinical Teaching Laboratory (CTL). Training on plastic teeth lacks fidelity in comparison to normal/abnormal tooth substance resulting in a potentially unpredictable transition from pre-clinical practice to clinical patient work.  CTL equipment and the phantom heads are expensive to maintain, especially when in constant use throughout the academic year. The Simodont® Dental Trainer units provide dental training in a 3D virtual reality environment (a “virtual reality phantom head”) to enable students learning of dental procedures. High fidelity haptic feedback (feeling) is provided through the drill hand piece, so students have an exact feeling of the objects and materials they are working on during the training. The Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency (NIMDTA) invested in 10 of these innovative dental simulators (Simodont®) at a cost of £35,000 each. We recently negotiated access to the Simodont® suite to run a pilot study with 55 second year dental students (2BDS).

Objectives: To assess how contemporary virtual reality (VR) technologies (Simodont) could be utilized to support clinical skills training for 2BDS students. To evaluate the perceptions of 2BDS students on this VR technology. To extrapolate any further potential applications for this technology in undergraduate clinical skills training.

Methods: A range of standardised tasks were undertaken by each student and automatically graded as a pass or fail by the Simodont trainer using set criteria. These selected tasks were analogous to those carried out by 2BDS students in the CTL. Cavity preparation dimensions and iatrogenic damage were measured and scored. To obtain student feedback on Simodont, an anonymized questionnaire was completed by 2BDS students at the end of the VR teaching sessions. The 2BDS students had no previous knowledge/ use of the Simodont Training Unit.


  • 93% (51 students) felt the training session improved their visual-motor skills.
  • 95% (52 students) felt using Simodont in the future would improve their preclinical skills.
  • 95% (52 students) thought of Simodont as a useful educational tool in UG dental training programs.

Conclusion: VR simulation provided additional ways to enhance the training within the undergraduate program. It is clear the majority of 2BDS students found Simodont helpful in preclinical dental skills training. Using this Simodont technology has shown to be beneficial and more sustainable for 2BDS students' progression from simulation to reality on patient clinics.