Bulletin of Dental Education

Innovation and Transformation of Dental Education

 Permanent link   All Posts

The University of British Columbia Faculty of Dentistry (UBC Dentistry) continually looks for opportunities to enhance its educational programs and clinical enterprise to enrich the learning experiences of students. Dentistry as a profession has always embraced and incorporated emerging advanced technologies for the facilitation of patient care. An example is the field of digital dentistry and how it is truly transforming numerous aspects of professional oral care. It is becoming more essential today to adopt and integrate this technology into practice to improve the quality of care and clinical outcomes. 

Historically, dental academic institutions such as UBC Dentistry have been limited in their ability to include these new technologies in their curricula and clinics because of limited operational budgets and the high initial investment costs. However, more recently, this hesitancy has lessened due to lowering overall costs, improving clinical outcomes and growing demand from dental practitioners who desire experience using complex software and hardware. Clinical training with new software and digital technologies, through proactive educational partnerships with suppliers, will allow UBC Dentistry’s students to graduate as emerging clinicians who have desirable qualifications and expertise that is advantageous to the future of the profession. 

As a major focus of its strategic plan, IMPACT 2020–2025, under the education pillar, UBC Dentistry has outlined its pledges to:

  1. Invest in practices and technologies that advance excellence in teaching and learning, and
  2. Enhance the learning environment to promote student success.

One of the overarching strategic ventures for the UBC Dentistry is the addition of digital dentistry instruction and technologies into its undergraduate and graduate programs. To accomplish this, UBC Denistry began developing a graduate digital dentistry facility, followed by a simulation and digital dentistry laboratory for DHDP and D.M.D. students. Plans are to incorporate instruction in new digital software and technology early in the curriculum, so students will feel knowledgeable about this technology and will be able to confidently apply these tools in a clinical setting—maximizing the benefits for patient care.

UBC 3D Rendering

The graduate digital dentistry facility was made possible through a Provost Academic Excellence Award of $490,000 and the planning of the Graduate Digital Dentistry Task Force under the leadership of Anthony McCullagh, B.D.S., M.Phil., MFDRSire, MRD(Pros), RCSEdin, Clinical Professor. Straumann has provided additional support through a gift of $233,000, bringing the total support to $723,000 for the endeavor. UBC Dentistry provided resources to renovate JBM 242, located in the John B. Macdonald (JBM) building, to house the state-of-the-art learning facility that opened in September 2021. 

“The digital dentistry facility has been a fabulous addition to the dental clinic and integrated patient care. Not only will the facility further the educational mission of the Faculty in exposing our graduate students to the latest digital technologies, it will enhance the overall ability of the faculty and students to provide the very best standard of interdisciplinary care to our patients. The graduate students are quickly gaining experience in the treatment says software and printers and are pushing hard to use the facility to its fullest potential,” says Dr. McCullagh. 

Creating a simulation and digital dentistry laboratory is a larger, seminal core initiative of UBC Dentistry’s strategic plan for transformative learning related to its educational mission. This new laboratory will enhance the student experience and incorporate state-of-the-art technologies and learning methodologies. Planning for this learning laboratory began in 2020 with the leadership team, in partnership with a special 16-member task force committee under the leadership of Vincent Lee, D.D.S., M.Sc./Dip Pros. UBC Dentistry is fortunate to be working with Project Manager Hilde Schepens from UBC Infrastructure Development’s Project Services team on the oversight of this complex project. The new laboratory will occupy the space that holds the current computer learning laboratory in the JBM building—with some additional expansions. The simulation facility will feature 72 student workstations with one instructor hub. The adjacent digital laboratory will house 10 workstations and workspace for a staff digital technician. This new technology will support the migration of a traditional (analog) model of dentistry to a digital workflow.

Finished Graduate Digital
Dentistry facility (above).

This new laboratory will not only help prepare students for the challenges of practice but will also provide space for increasing the capacity of learners within UBC Dentistry. Currently, the Nobel Biocare Oral Health Centre serves nearly 40,000 patient visits annually and supports the educational training of over 400 undergraduate and graduate students in various clinical programs. With the addition of this new laboratory, UBC Dentistry will be able to accommodate an increase in the number of international students, as well as release valuable clinic space to allow increased and expanded patient care for the community.

UBC Dentistry’s strategic vision could not have been realized without the incredible support of a number of transformative gifts: an initial gift from 123Dentist of $1 million, and a more recent donation in excess of $2.8 million from Planmeca, who will be providing the simulation units. This innovative revamping of our academic programs will allow UBC Dentistry to begin transformation into the digital space and to support its students for years to come while providing them valued clinical knowledge and desired skillsets.

Renovations for the new simulation and digital dentistry laboratory are currently underway, with a scheduled unveiling and launch of this novel learning laboratory in fall 2022. It will be a true culmination of strategic vision and cooperation, as UBC Dentistry and its learners are propelled into the future of dentistry.

Courtesy of Kathryn Booth, Communications Coordinator, University of British Columbia Faculty of Dentistry

Published on Feb. 9, 2022

Duggan ad 2013