A new tooth drilling simulator improves teaching for dentist students, by making it possible to practise on the same 'virtual tooth' multiple times.

The HapTEL simulator, developed by the TLRP-TEL (Technology Enhanced Learning) research programme, has been incorporated as part of the Year 1 dental curriculum at King's College London and is being trialled with Year 2 and postgraduate students.

The tool enables improved teaching, as the students now can practise at length with the same 'tooth'. The 'haptic' (ie touch) technology makes it possible to feel the difference between hard enamel and softer decayed tooth. Using 3D glasses the students see the jaw on a computer screen, and a head-tracking camera makes it possible to examine the teeth from different angles.

The next step in the research project will be to simulate other dental procedures, such as filling, cutting and needle-injections.