Oral Health Group

Higher Learning Goes High-Tech

March 1, 2004
by Lyndon Smith, Sandra Aldebert & Dr. Ken Glick

In today’s environment, staying at the forefront of our profession requires commitment to lifelong learning. As a practice develops, so must a dentist’s diagnostic and clinical skills, as well as the technical competency of the team. For a practice to really reach its fullest potential, these must also be supported by effective administrative and business skills; and a highly developed ability to communicate with patients.

Providing such a resource is the mission of The Dental Learning Centre, the new, all-Canadian teaching facility. Uniquely created for the dental profession, the TDLC is designed to afford all aspects of clinical, technical and academic learning for dentists, hygienists, dentals assistants and administrative staff as well as dental lab technicians and dental industry personnel.


A collaborative venture supported by Ivoclar Vivadent, Modular and Custom Cabinets, SciCan, Scotiabank, Straumann Canada and Ultra Laboratory Group, The Dental Learning Centre (TDLC) is located in Oakville, a suburb of Toronto.

To facilitate as many learning styles as possible, designers allowed for great flexibility in their approach to guiding participants through the incremental stages of learning. Programs flow from theatre style lectures to skill enhancing exercises to live patient treatment where class sizes are limited to 20.

The “Theatre in the Round” lecture facility on the first level allows participants to eavesdrop from the toe of the dental chair in one of the largest operatories in the world. Directly adjacent is a consultation/treatment presentation area where simulated patient interactions utilize technology to increase patient awareness and enhance patient learning. These consultative “playlets” can be interactive between the clinician and the audience while the over the shoulder video camera/microscope and a widescreen LCD monitor provide ease of viewing for course participants.

The third level Clinical Skills Facility supplies 15 fully serviced workstations where new clinical/technical skills can be readily developed and enhanced. Initially through the use of typodont models to phantom heads, a dentist is hands-on through the entire procedure while the instructor demonstrates from a glass-enclosed HI-TECH operatory with sophisticated audio-visual for clear viewing. The TDLC is Internet enabled to provide international outreach for distance education programs.

The final stages of the clinical/technical journey are centred in the Live Patient Facility on the main floor. An 11 operatory, natural dental practice, this area is fully equipped for dentist, dental assistant and hygienist to gain hands-on practical skills on a participant’s own patients. All phases of dentistry will be offered from esthetics, implants and restorative to wide-ranging team activities that include radiography, photography, case presentation, patient communications, soft tissue management and more.

Across the board, our Founding Members echo that this unique venue is perfect to support their learning-based, client service focused outline.

“We enthusiastically sought the opportunity to become part of a training/learning Centre unsurpassed in the industry and utilizing the latest technologies available in teaching its specialized audience. We found The Dental Learning Centre to be enhanced by being fully equipped with superior audio visual capabilities, numerous technologies including microscopes and the new KaVo laser, live operatory, practical hands-on stations and the latest addition–patient phantom units. These extraordinary training tools combined with comprehensive course content allow TDLC participants to walk away knowledgeable and enlightened by their experience”. Being able to collaborate in this dream project has truly allowed us to “build something special together that dentistry will come to”.

There is nothing magical about lifelong learning; it is about asking yourself: “What are the things I do every day I would like to do better?” “What else can I offer my patients to enhance their dental health and appearance, and their quality of life?” “What can my team and I learn to enrich our patient relationships, ourselves as professionals and our entire practice?”

There is nothing similar to TDLC in the Canadian marketplace. The positive energy of current course participants confirms that it is among the most revolutionary venues in the field.

More photos are available at http://www.tdlc.ca

Lyndon Smith and Sandra Aldebert are members of the Professional Development Faculty of TDLC. Dr. Glick is clinical director for TDLC and past president of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.

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