Computerized Virtual Reality Simulation in Preclinical Dentistry: Can a Computerized Simulator Replace the Conventional Phantom Heads and Human Instruction?

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Summary Statement

In preclinical dental education, the acquisition of clinical, technical skills, and the transfer of these skills to the clinic are paramount. Phantom heads provide an efficient way to teach preclinical students dental procedures safely while increasing their dexterity skills considerably. Modern computerized phantom head training units incorporate features of virtual reality technology and the ability to offer concurrent augmented feedback. The aims of this review were to examine and evaluate the dental literature for evidence supporting their use and to discuss the role of augmented feedback versus the facilitator's instruction. Adjunctive training in these units seems to enhance student's learning and skill acquisition and reduce the required faculty supervision time. However, the virtual augmented feedback cannot be used as the sole method of feedback, and the facilitator's input is still critical. Well-powered longitudinal randomized trials exploring the impact of these units on student's clinical performance and issues of cost-effectiveness are warranted.

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