Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago's colleges of dentistry and engineering have developed a life-like training simulator called PerioSim, which uses haptic virtual reality that allows users to 'feel' what is pictured on a computer screen.
With the PerioSim, students guide a stylus on-screen that resembles an explorer - a sharp, pointed instrument used by dentists during an examination. They can feel life-like tactile sensations as they navigate through various procedures.
'We can enhance the learning and training of a wide variety of tasks or procedures using this system,' said Dr. Arnold Steinberg, professor of periodontics at UIC. 'The need to practice on mannequins, animals and patients can be significantly reduced, and in some cases, eliminated entirely.'
Students can access PerioSim via the internet. A realistic 3D human mouth is shown in real-time, and the user can adjust the model position, viewpoint and transparency level.
The haptic device allows the student to feel the sensations in the virtual mouth, and a control panel lets the user choose different procedures to practice and instruments to use, Steinberg said.
The system also allows instructors to create short scenarios of periodontal procedures, which can be saved and replayed at any time. Students can replay scenes from any angle, so they can observe different views of the placement of the instrument and gingival relationships during a procedure.
A video of the simulator in action can be seen here.