Students' perspectives on the use of digital versus conventional dental impression techniques in orthodontics.BMC Med Educ. 2019 Mar 12; 19(1):81.BM
Despite the increasing use of digital impressions in orthodontics, this technique does not usually form part of the learning objectives in dental training. The aim of this study was to determine how students assess the user-friendliness of intraoral scanners compared to a conventional impression technique after a theoretical and practical teaching module.
Thirty-one dental students in their seventh semester (4th year) received and conducted digital (3 M, St. Paul, NM) and conventional (alginate) impressions from: (i) the dentist's perspective, and (ii) the patient's perspective. Each student completed four questionnaires to evaluate: (i) the user-friendliness of intraoral scanning, and (ii) intraoral scanning compared to the conventional method.
Thirty (97%) students had not previously performed digital impressions. Twenty-four (77%) students were overall "very" or "rather" satisfied with the handling of the intraoral scanning method, and 18 (58%) preferred digital to alginate impressions from the dentist's perspective. From the "patient's" perspective, the students did not report any significant differences between the two methods. However, the impression tray in conventional impressions reduced "patient" comfort significantly more than the camera in digital impressions (Z = - 3.496, p < 0.001).
Dental students were able to practice both conventional alginate and modern digital impressions without prior knowledge of intraoral impression techniques after basic training and an introduction from dentists. Students reported a preference for the digital technique. Implementing digital intraoral impressions into undergraduate training is recommended to familiarise students with this rapidly developing digital technique at an early stage.