Moving Dentistry Forward with Virtual Reality Promethean Dental Systems’ Futuristic Technology Brings a Lifelike Experience to the Handpiece

by Lou Shuman, DMD, CAGS, CEO and Founder of Cellerant Consulting

It feels real. Virtual reality and haptic technologies are providing more lifelike experiences in niches from sports training to video games to surgical procedures. Promethean Dental Systems customized the game-changing technology for the dental space with the virtual reality-haptic simulator called the Simodont Dental Trainer. The device promotes skill building, repetition boosting and end-to-end workflow simulation. Chief Executive Officer Scot Armstrong and Executive Vice President of North America Dr. MJ Hanlon are the trailblazers who have brought the technology to dental school pre-admissions, simulation labs, licensure exams, remediation and training for dental organizations and practices.

Simodont far outpaces manikins or even human patients to promote skill building and objective assessments. The Simodont can replicate the operator experience of any handheld dental instrument, producing a real-time 3D rendering of the procedure while getting crisp and precise tactical feedback from the instrument.

This technology is so realistic that users doing crown prep procedures can distinguish between different dental tissues as they interact with handpieces from individual manufacturers when used in combination with specific burs. And they can repeat the process to start over as many times as needed by pressing a button, just like with a video game. This promotes proficiency, speed and efficiency.

Simodont is perfect for testing or educational situations due to its repeatability, accuracy and ability to gather objective data without the recurring osts of typodonts and manikins. Armstrong notes, “The Simodont’s capability for many repetitions leads to effective development of muscle memory.” The hand skills that can be developed will benefit dentists throughout their whole career. Simodont’s capabilities are also being expanded to full hygiene and specialization work.

This fall, Promethean is opening the Performance Institute at Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) in Knoxville, Tennessee where opportunities will range from simulated individual procedures to entire dental workflows. Like a Center of Excellence, the Institute will feature end-to-end, full mouth reconstruction in virtual reality, without touching a live patient.

At the Institute, the workflow will involve virtually working through an entire treatment plan using artificial intelligence and digital workflow tools. Non-Simodont technologies are also being incorporated: radiography, CBCT, patient management, performance dashboards, typodonts, hand pieces, burrs, instruments, intraoral scanners, design software, mills, printers and implants that are currently being used by dental schools and dental practices. Other concepts covered that are integral to dental practices are treatment design and planning, patient scheduling, and billing.

While teaching all of these skills, the Simodont units are constantly capturing analytics. Simodont data from across the globe will be compiled in a cloud repository that will incorporate data from all the technologies used in a practice, including but not limited to, what comes from the Simodont units. As this repository grows, the performance metrics that have been obtained will help to identify objective performance metrics for trending and comparison.

Dr. Hanlon explains Promethean’s vision of the future. She says, “We expect to have a major impact on recruiting and hiring the next generation of dentists, working with DSOs, multi-dentist practices, and manufacturer-sponsored training centres.”

About the Author

Lou Shuman is the CEO of Cellerant Consulting Group, dentistry’s leading corporate incubator and accelerator. He is a venturer in-residence at Harvard’s i-Lab, co-founder of LightForce Orthodontics, a member of the Oral Health advisory board and founder of the Cellerant Best of Class Technology Awards. He was selected in 2021 by Global Summits Institute one of the World’s Top 100 Doctors.