KU Leuven has expanded its preclinical training centre to optimise the instruction of future dentists. "This investment constitutes an absolute added value for our dentistry programme. Only through practical training that is as close to clinical practice as possible can we guarantee a high-quality dentistry education. We also see that the centre boosts students' motivation," says Professor Dominique Declerck, chair of the Department of Oral Health Sciences.
Aspiring dentists must augment a solid theoretical basis with a range of practical skills. Professor Paul Lambrechts, Programme Director for the dentistry programme: "This obviously occurs best in an environment that simulates a real clinic as closely as possible."
Students have been perfecting their skills at the Dentistry Training Centre for three years now, with the help of the centre's 42 simulation units and lab. Professor Declerck: "In order to give students access to a state-of-the-art dentistry education, KU Leuven has invested in 28 additional operational units, which brings the total number to 70. A budget of 400,000 euro was made available for this."
The simulation units are arranged in a semicircle facing a front podium and a master unit. Each unit consists of a fully equipped and fully functional dental chair, custom lighting, an ergonomic chair and a phantom patient awaiting treatment.
Professor Els Wierinck coordinates the Dental Skills Centre: "Students can practice just about every dental treatment using these units: drilling, tooth filling, root canal operations, crown and bridge work, implants, tartar removal, radiographs, etc."
The centre also utilises a multimedia demonstration system. Els Wierinck: "Each simulation unit is equipped with a flat screen which is linked via a network to the master unit at the front of the room. The professor can thus give a live audiovisual demonstration and stream images to the individual stations so that each student can see how a given procedure is performed. When it's their turn to practice the procedure, they can view the demonstration again when needed. In this case, pictures speak so much louder than words."