In preclinical dental education, plastic and extracted teeth have been broadly used for skills training without specific focus on the patient behind the procedure. A patient-centered approach remains challenging in traditional simulation, which does not resemble realistic clinical situations.
This article describes the development and first experiences with a patient-centered virtual reality training module (PC-VR) that allows dental care providers to prepare, beforehand and in virtual reality (VR), specific procedures required by their patients. Experiences with this patient-centered practice are described to reflect on its value for clinical training in dentistry.
Using an intraoral scanner, digital impressions of 10 patients were made; these served as stereolithography (STL) digital files, which were converted into volumetric haptic models for display in a VR dental simulator. In this study, students’ experiences were investigated through a short open-answer survey in 2018. Atlas.ti was used for qualitative analysis of the answers through the inductive methodology of the grounded theory approach.
Drillable virtual models of real patients were made available for training using VR. Inductive analysis of the experiences identified 5 dimensions describing the main features of PC-VR: added value, competence development, self-efficacy, outcomes, and room for development.
This article provides a general overview of the possibilities and challenges of the implementation PC-VR in dental education. Although concrete effects on trainees’ self-confidence and performance are yet to be determined, all participants appreciated the opportunity to explore clinical situations before experiencing them in the context of a real patient.

© 2020 The Authors. Journal of Dental Education published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of American Dental Education Association.