As the practice of dentistry goes high-tech, Stony Brook University means to stay on the cutting edge. The University’s School of Dental Medicine has been selected as one of five schools nationally to pilot a Digital Dentistry Curriculum developed by the American College of Prosthodontists (ACP).
Digital dentistry has been in practice for more than 15 years. However, this is the first time a curriculum has been developed nationally to train future dentists in a uniform way on the uses of digital dentistry in practice.
The Digital Dentistry Curriculum will be incorporated into the school’s training during the fall and spring semesters of the 2017-18 academic year. Full implementation will start with the Class of 2021 with enhancements to the Classes of 2020, 2019 and 2018 curriculum to incorporate training and clinical experience prior to graduation.
The resources and technology needed to integrate digital dentistry education into the Stony Brook curriculum include intraoral digital scanners, CAD (computer-aided design) /CAM (computer-aided manufacturing), milling machines, laboratory scanners, oral cancer screening devices, CBCT and caries detection devices. ACP selected Stony Brook to pilot the curriculum due to its leadership, class size, large patient base, electronic health record capacity and location.
“The goal of this initiative is to share a model for the integration of digital dentistry into an existing dental school curriculum that will comprehensively deliver digital dentistry training,” said Mary Truhlar, DDS, MS, Dean of the School of Dental Medicine at Stony Brook University. “Incorporating this into our current curriculum will advance our program in terms of teaching and training in diagnostics, dental care and oral function, particularly for restorative, surgical and orthodontic procedures.”
The school has incorporated digital dentistry into patient practices, training and research. Cone beam technology is used for diagnosis of oral pathology, placement of implants via guided surgery and orthodontics. Digital dentistry methods have also been used to deliver restorations using CAD/CAM technology, and research is taking place using 3D printing.
Dental medicine residents will also be training under the digital dentistry curriculum. In addition, a student and faculty working group called Club CAD will meet to review in a grand rounds format the latest digital technologies and how they are used in specific patient cases.
According to the ACP, advanced digital technology is changing what is possible in oral health, function and beauty. By incorporating digital solutions into their practice, prosthodontists may find improved workflow efficiency and quicker collaboration with dental laboratories. The goal of treating patients with digital solutions is to provide them with the most accurately fitted high-strength materials and optimum aesthetics.
Clinical workflows will be developed in the areas of dental anatomy, operative, fixed prosthodontics, removable prosthodontics, and implant dentistry to allow for easy adaptation into the existing preclinical and clinical environment. Post-doctoral residents in Prosthodontics, General Practice Residency program, Orthodontic program and the Periodontal program will participate in advanced digital dentistry training.
Ann M. Nasti, DMD, Clinical Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Clinical Education at Stony Brook who will lead the curriculum initiative says the evolution of the art and science of dentistry is driven primarily by innovations and new treatment protocols.
“The recent explosion in digital technology, software, scanning and manufacturing capabilities has resulted in a major paradigm shift in all aspects of dentistry,” said Dr. Nasti. “Patients treated with digital solutions benefit from the combination of the most efficient clinical processes, accurate high-strength materials, and appealing aesthetics.”
Dental treatments enhanced by digital dentistry include same day fabrication and delivery of permanent crowns and fillings, fabrication of surgical guides for accurate placement of implants, and 3D printing of orthodontic appliances.
“All of these procedures eliminate the need for the use of impression materials resulting in a more comfortable and efficient patient-centered experience,” added Dr. Nasti.