Principal Investigator:Judith Chin, Associate Professor, Department of Pediatric Dentistry, School of Dentistry

Co-investigators:Ahmed Ghoneima, Visiting Assistant Professor, School of Dentistry; LaQuia Walker, Clinical Assistant Professor, School of Dentistry; Eric Wernert, Director, Advanced IT Core, University Information Technology Services; and Michael Boyles, Manager, Research Technology, University Information Technology Services

Project Title:Development and Enhancement of a Haptic Training Program for the Dental School Curriculum

Funding Level:$15,000

Abstract:Providing dental care in the 21st century is dependent upon the appropriate use of dental technology. Dental students practice all techniques on mannequins or simulated mouths prior to treating live patients. The more real the practice, the better students will be prepared prior to treating their first real human patients.
Two new simulation systems create opportunities that are dramatically more real than mannequins for pre-patient practice by students. One system involves the use of a haptic device. This device makes it possible to feel real-life tactile sensation on a computer monitor as it guides a student through a specific procedure such as giving an injection, surgical techniques, etc. This provides users the ability to touch, feel and modify virtual objects by providing force feedback in the virtual environment. Another system involves creation of new virtual reality software that superimposes human soft tissue over bone or teeth in the head and neck area. Utilization should increase effective learning. These systems will allow students to practice more without any fear of making mistakes on patients’, allow for repeating dental operations, enhance quantitative evaluation, and provide training for many.
We propose to improve dentistry education by acquiring both types of systems and integrating them with the IU dentistry program. This equipment will be used in the undergraduate, predoctoral and Masters of Science dental curricula. Faculty and students will be asked to rate these systems via a confidential survey and focus groups. The effectiveness of the systems will be measured with a one-way ANOVA.