Why CAD/CAM education is so critical

October 29, 2015

As more and more practices bring at least some part of digital dentistry into their workflows, it has become critical for those investing in technology to know how to get the most out of it.

As more and more practices bring at least some part of digital dentistry into their workflows, it has become critical for those investing in technology to know how to get the most out of it.

It’s also just as important for today’s dental students to be best prepared to work in today’s evolving CAD/CAM culture, as well as be able to adapt to a future where same-day dentistry may become the norm.

That’s why Planmeca CAD/CAM Solutions has always been big on education and is so involved in using Romexis Compare 2.0 adaptive learning technology for universities and students.

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“Too often we look at the sizzle of technology, but it all goes back to the fact that it isn’t really useful if you don’t use it properly - education is always a big part of that,” said Gary Severance, DDS, chief marketing officer for E4D Technologies. “We have always stood behind education and support. You can have the best technology, but if it’s not used correctly, it’s worthless.”

Two university professors, Drs. Walter Renne and Richard Callan, recently explained the importance of educating today’s dental students on CAD/CAM, as well as how they use Romexis Compare at their schools.

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Explain how you use Romexis Compare 2.0 while teaching at Medical University of South Carolina.

Dr. Renne: We use it starting freshman year in dental morphology as a tool to allow students to objectively evaluate their dental wax- ups. In this class, students will scan their typodonts into the software using the Planscan scanner and then scan their wax-ups. Using the 3D surface mapping technology found in the Compare software, the two will be analyzed for discrepancies. These discrepancies will be highlighted: red colors indicate undercontour and blue indicates overcontour.

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Compare is also utilized in fixed prosthodontic classes as a mechanism to help students calibrate themselves for self-assessment and as a tool for faculty to more objectively evaluate preparation errors. In these classes, the faculty will complete an ideal preparation on a typodont and then digitize it with PlanScan

I like this because it forces the faculty to sit down and prep an ideal plastic tooth, perhaps for the first time ever. By doing this, they may realize how hard it is to achieve perfection on a typodont and can better sympathize with the students. Also, it allows students to see what is realistically possible: The real ideal is not one fabricated by text on a page, but one created by the hands of their professors.

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The typical second-year dental student will have scanned hundreds of quadrants before clinics, and, as a result, they are better at scanning than many faculty. Romexis design software is also utilized to teach second-year students how to design restorations efficiently.

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What benefits does Compare provide for the students?

Dr. Renne: With Compare software, the ideal is blown up on the screen in front of you highlighting in 3D and color where your work is off from the ideal. Compare also provides a feedback mechanism for students that practice outside of class time. They can receive objective preparation feedback without faculty members being around. Therefore, the simulation lab can be utilized 24 hours a day for practicing, and students can get real-time feedback.

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There is never confusion as to what is required of them; they have the faculty’s prep on the screen blown up at 150x magnification and can directly compare it to their own work.

Secondly, and most significantly, it provides the opportunity to become efficient at scanning as they scan hundreds of times in the course of a semester. Muscle memory helps them become experts at digital impressions when they get to the clinics. 

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Explain how you use Romexis Compare 2.0 while teaching at Georgia Health Sciences University. 

Dr. Callan: The inclusion of digital dentistry into dental education is not only an exciting way to introduce modern technology to our students but is imperative. The use of CAD/CAM in the dental profession has grown exponentially over the past 10 years and in my opinion will only continue in that direction. It is imperative that we educate our students with the latest technologies to properly prepare them for their future careers.

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Our primary goal for the use of Romexis Compare is to provide our students with a means by which they can self-assess their work. Being able to superimpose the student’s preparation over the ideal and visualize the difference between the two, enlarged and in 3D, is a tremendous teaching tool. Using the slice plane feature and the measuring tools only adds to the overall impact -  this can be of particular advantage to the struggling student. 

After developing a confidence in the system, we attempted to assess its effectiveness for the intended purpose: to enhance student learning. It was quickly determined, for better or for worse, that if we were to maximize the full potential of this tremendous technology, we were going to have to find a way to incorporate it into the grading of the student’s work.

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Our goal is to expose our students to CAD/CAM dentistry as soon in the curriculum as is possible. One huge advantage of the PlanCAD Design Center and Romexis Compare is that the skills and knowledge gained through the training and implementation of the technology, once mastered, will carry them not only through their dental school experience but follow them into and throughout their entire professional career.