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CAD/CAM - international magazine of digital dentistry

_What are haptics? TheadditionofhapticstoVRtechnologycreatesa dimensionofsensoryfeedbackfortheuser.Theword itself originates from the Greek work haptikos, which means “to touch or grasp”. There are many exam- ples of haptic simulation in modern-day technology, such as in gaming and the vibration component of a mobile phone. The aim of haptics in many cases, and especiallysimulation,isto improvetherealism of the virtual experience. In dentistry, for example, when carrying out a cavity preparation on a haptic VR sim- ulator,thereisadifferenceinhardnessfeltwhencut- ting from enamel to dentine, and if the pulp is dam- aged an instant loss of resistance occurs, producing arealisticsensationofdrillingthroughtheroofofthe pulp chamber (Figs. 2 & 3). Naturally, the important question is, does the ad- dition of haptic technology really make a difference when learning using VR simulation? To answer this, we have to delve into surgical research for which a stronger evidence base exists, specifically in the area of laparoscopy. A review of the use of haptics in sur- gery suggested that the addition of haptics to simu- lationcanreducesurgicalerrorsandisespeciallyben- eficial in the early stages of learning a new skill task.1 Otherstudieshaveshownthattheadditionofhaptics may improve overall performance of surgical skills and may be beneficial when a trainee is first exposed toaclinicalsituation.Indentistry,small-scalestudies of haptic VR simulators suggest that they are at least as good as phantom heads in training undergradu- ates. _The future of VR simulation in dentistry Currently, exciting research involving the univer- sities of Hong Kong and Melbourne is looking into gaining solid evidence concerning the use of haptic VR simulation in the dental undergraduate curricu- lum. By utilising neuroimaging techniques, identifi- cation of the traits an expert usually displays can oc- cur, which in turn can be built into training pathways to enhance the effectiveness of procedural learning. Initialfindingshavesuggestedthatdistinctdiffer- encesmaybeapparentinthebrainsofdentalexperts andnovicesduringasimulatedclinicaltaskwhenus- ing a dental haptic VR simulator. Further work in this areaistobecarriedout,withadditionalinvestigation into the positioning of haptic VR simulation within a curriculum and considering its effectiveness com- pared with traditional phantom head training tech- niques. Already it can be seen that the area of VR in den- tistry and especially that of haptic VR simulation is provinganinterestingdevelopment,offeringencour- aging prospects for the future skills-based training of dentists. The evidence is limited, however, so, prior to commendingthistechnologyasthemainstayoftrain- ing in dental undergraduate curricula, there is a com- pelling need to expand the current research base._ Fig. 3_An image of a cut tooth from the Simodont haptic VR simulator. Dr Susan Bridges is an associate professor at the Faculty of Education at the Uni- versity of Hong Kong in China. She can be contacted at Suzanne Perry is a PhD candidate at the Faculty of Education at the University of Hong Kong. She can be contacted at Prof.Michael Burrow is Professor and Chair of Bio- materials at the Melbourne Dental School at the University of Melbourne inAustralia. He can be contacted at CAD/CAM_about the authors Fig. 3 I new technology _ VR in dentistry 08 I CAD/CAM 2_2015

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