Journal of Surgical Simulation 2017; 4: B: 7 - 7

Published: 11 May 2017


Oral presentation

Special Issue: Developing and implementing haptic surgical rehearsal in dentistry

Andrew Keeling and Cecilie Osnes
Corresponding author: Andrew Keeling, School of Dentistry, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9LU, UK. Email:



The 5 year dental undergraduate course is designed to prepare students to become independent dental practitioners at the level of ‘safe beginner’. A combination of simulated clinical training and actual clinical practice on real patients forms the bedrock of the undergraduate programme. The clinical practice component is variable, depending on patient needs, so there is a reliance on maximising the learning experience from each clinical event. Ensuring patient safety is also paramount. One aspect of dentistry which requires high precision, and specific tailoring to the patient, is the preparation of dental crowns. This procedure involves shaping a tooth to very specific dimensions, then taking an impression of the prepared tooth in order to manufacture the new crown.

Statement of the problem

Training students to perform dental crown preparations typically involves practising on plastic teeth. Whilst this helps the student learn the manual skills required, the actual shape of the preparation will always be heavily influenced by the specific arrangement of the patients’ teeth. The plastic teeth tend to be ‘ideal’ in shape – patients’ teeth are rarely so. This can lead to over-preparation of (and unnecessary damage to) a patient’s tooth, because the student is not experienced in adapting ideal crown preparations to the specific patient anatomy.

Implementation of patient-specific surgical rehearsal

To help a student better prepare for a real clinical crown preparation, we have developed a method for uploading the real patient data onto a 3D virtual reality haptic dental trainer (Simodont, MOOG Nieuw-Vennep). This simulator gives the user the feeling that they are drilling teeth, and has a facsimile of a dental handpiece as the haptic ‘mouse’, making the users grip feel natural and realistic. The simulator allows the student unlimited practice attempts in a safe environment before the day of the real clinical procedure. A 3D interactive view of the preparation can be emailed to the clinical tutor for comment and feedback. Informal feedback on the system has been positive from both students and staff alike.  More formally, we are collecting written feedback to identify the best methods of implementation within the curriculum.


Patient-specific haptic simulation offers dental students a safe environment in which to rehearse real clinical procedures.


dentistry education; patient specific simulation; dental crown; 3D; virtual reality simulator

Additional Information

This presentation was given at the one day symposium, Current Approaches to Understanding Surgical Error, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK, on 9 December 2016.

Conflicts of interest: none declared.

Author affiliations
Andrew Keeling: School of Dentistry, University of Leeds, UK
Cecilie Osnes: Department of Restorative Dentistry, Leeds School of Dentistry, Leeds, UK