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Study outlines the emerging, innovative & most effective training methods in implant dentistry.

By Dental Tribune South Asia
November 16, 2019

LISBON, Portugal: Technological progress is not only helping the development of newer implant treatment techniques but also creating a need to update the education methods and models in implant dentistry. Recent research from Portugal, the UK and the US on the trends in implant dentistry education has summarised the most effective training methods in implantology. The publication discusses innovative, non-traditional methods and encourages dentists to seek professional education after their university training has ended.

Nowadays, traditional teaching methods are being replaced by modern techniques that involve awe-inspiring images, dynamic videos and interactive exercises in lectures, and quizzes or anonymous question sessions, for on-site learning, to engage participants who would usually be too shy to ask questions.

The researchers of this study evaluated two main learning models: action learning and blended learning, and also reviewed - augmented reality, artificial intelligence, haptics and mixed reality and also analyzed the experiences and opinions of expert authors. They stated: “One challenge in implant dentistry education is that professional learners who wish to learn are still, too often, taught in traditional ways of knowledge sharing rather than involving students directly in the application of knowledge to solve, or better still prevent, clinical problems.”

Action learning is a learning approach where people are committed to solving real-life problems through action. Research highlights hands-on exercises as an essential tool in implant dentistry training. Standardised plastic models which mimic patients’ real situations are a good way of simulating implant placement. Digital planning, customised 3D-printed models, animal and human cadaver models, and dynamic navigation systems simulate real-life situations and allow surgeons to practise in an interactive way.

Different studies have shown how hands-on exercises promote students’ learning by building on their intrinsic motivation. A survey conducted among 372 undergraduate students who experienced both passive and active learning showed that active instruction had more positive effects on their psychological and behavioural outcomes.

However, this method has limitations too. Action learning models are expensive as they require more resources - facilitators, equipment and space, which are not needed in the case of a single instructor giving a lecture in a lecture hall. An action learning environment, owing to unfamiliarity, can create a sense of discomfort among participants, who are taking on new processes. Not all learners are comfortable revealing what they do not know to other participants, who may be strangers.

The publication also covers blended learning - a term that has caused much confusion. However, a popular definition states that this learning model blends online and face-to-face interaction to enhance meaningful interaction between students, teachers, and resources. Many studies have demonstrated that the blended learning model provides superior outcomes when compared with more traditional teaching methods. However, even with all the evidence and all the technological advancements that can help us overcome the obstacles of different time zones and geographical location, the process of integration of blended learning programmes within mainstream dental implant education has been slow.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are two significant technological contributors to blended learning, as they incorporate significant advances in computing power. Furthermore, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are considered innovative advances in implant dentistry education. AR allows the user to feel as though he or she is connected to an enhanced environment. VR brings together a combination of multiple technologies, allowing users to interact with virtual entities in real-time.

Blended learning has its own challenges and limitations. The construction of sufficiently “real” environments requires expensive and sometimes technically challenging interface design. Another critical issue is data and user privacy.

The researchers recommended online interactive learning in small working groups via social media as this method allows dentists to share their clinical cases and also the day-to-day clinical challenges that they face in their daily practice. Webinars, due to their flexibility of location and their ability to promote interaction via Q & A, are also considered to be a good learning method.

“Education in implant dentistry will evolve quickly over the next decade as technologies already being used in other industries are incorporated into new and innovative learning models. […] Going forward, instead of traditional models of education being used to achieve all educational objectives, now traditional formats that will be ineffective with today’s learner will be replaced, where appropriate, with online education, AR, ML, VR, and MR [mixed reality],” stated the authors.

The study, titled “Innovative trends in implant dentistry training and education: A narrative review”, was published in the October 2019 issue of the Journal of Clinical Medicine.

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