March 2020 saw the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with this, we all inherited a new way of life. This new life had a profound effect on the dental field.
In this blog post, I want to share my personal experiences of the technological changes I have witnessed as a final year dental student at King’s College London as a result.
Initially, when we went into a nationwide lockdown, the dental curriculum adapted and moved online within a week to Microsoft Teams where clinical sessions turned into case-based discussions centred around diagnoses, literature discussion and treatment planning.
This platform provided a group visual learning environment, with features such as sharing screens, webcam and online whiteboards making it relatively interactive.
As the lockdown eased, students could return to campus for phantom head simulation clinics to keep up our manual dexterity skills.
The clinics I met when I returned were not limited to practicing on plastic teeth but newly purchased enhanced 3D printed carious teeth.
The induction of this technology made caries removal on the simulation clinic incredibly more realistic.
You may also have heard about King’s brand-new haptic suite, a robotic project focusing on students learning practical procedures in virtual reality.
I can confirm the tactile feedback is very realistic, and I think this will be a great introduction to clinics for fresh dental students eager to perfect their manual dexterity, especially in this day and age where due to social distancing and guidelines, clinical time can sometimes be reduced across the board.
I have also seen the recent installation of micromotors that we are operating below 60,000 rpm onto our clinical floors to allow King’s dental students to carry out SGP procedures on open clinics.
This technology operating below 60,000 rpm increases droplet size and eliminates aerosol. I look forward to using this new handpiece whilst continuing to advance my clinical knowledge base this year.
Alongside all these technological changes in clinics, it has become evident how important it is to have online computer systems like Salud that allows you to adapt to the changing environment.
For example, being able to go paperless in a short amount of time or efficiently adding additional information regarding the type of procedure performed like AGP or SGP.
Technology has been fast-changing this year at King’s to keep up with the rapidly changing environment we have all been thrown into.
These advances, in my opinion, have complimented my learning perfectly during this time, and I am looking forward to seeing what will come next.
By Kiri Paul 5th year Dental Student at King’s College London
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