College of Dentistry implements digital dentistry technology, clinical experiences

Many dental schools have incorporated a digital dentistry exercise or component in their curriculum to remain up to date with the available technology. At Ohio State, a new faculty member in the College of Dentistry was the first to implement the instruction of digital dentistry technology into the DDS curriculum in autumn of 2022. 

In Operative Dentistry 4 (DENT 6534), Dr. Leonardi Nassani, in partnership with the Prior Health Sciences Library, has second-year dental students using 3D printers to print dental laboratory work. 

What makes this exercise at Ohio State unique is its multidisciplinary approach and comprehensive aspect. First, these efforts are reflected by the collaboration between the Health Science Library, the College of Engineering, and the College of Dentistry, who contributed to providing the space, expertise and science. This is unique approach provides students opportunities to learn not only dental and clinical skills, but also fosters their understanding of the technology and science behind computer-aided restorations. 

In addition, this learning activity is a simulation of a clinical scenario designed to offer students a hands-on experience of the process — from tooth preparation, scanning, designing, printing, washing, curing, adjusting and seating the onlay. Students can then relate the importance of preparation design to the quality of the seated restoration. These two aspects make this experience tailored for the College of Dentistry.

“The objective of this learning activity is to provide the students with a comprehensive digital dentistry experience,” says Dr. Nassani. “The entirety of the exercise teaches students the skills of tooth preparation, intraoral scanning, digital design, 3D printing and restoration cementation. The didactic component aims to provide a multidisciplinary learning approach by combining dental, restorative, practice management, material and engineering sciences. I hope the students will have a better appreciation for the CAD/CAM process and its application in the medical and dental fields. More importantly, I hope that this experience will allow them to identify the clinical situations where it is possible to apply that technology and have the skill set to provide the highest level of care to their future patients.”

This work is representative of patient care and will unlock an additional treatment option in clinical settings for the students when restoring their patient’s teeth. The scenario being clinical, the students will have acquired the knowledge to identify a treatment plan and procedure and the skills to execute it in the clinical setting when they get there in their third and fourth years.

Dr. Shereen Azer is the department chair and is leading a group incorporating more digital dentistry technology into the DDS curriculum.