To introduce virtual reality (VR) into the endodontic curriculum for teaching root canal anatomy and to evaluate the effectiveness of this new method on third-year undergraduate students.
Extracted human teeth were digitized using a CBCT scan and converted into STL files. The corresponding files were either 3D printed or imported into a VR software program. Subsequently, forty-two third-year undergraduate dental students in preclinical training were asked to respond to a questionnaire analysing their ability to detect all the anatomic features of the replica teeth and their comprehension of the underlying root canal anatomy. The investigation was based on three different methods: two-dimensional radiography, CBCT scanning and VR simulation. Data were analysed using McNemar’s and Binominal test, and the level of significance was set to 0.05 (P=0.05).
Students reported that CBCT and VR allowed them to detect all anatomic features more than radiography (p<0.001 – p=0.049). Because it allowed improved comprehension of root canal anatomy, the VR simulation was considered better than CBCT scanning and radiography. Most of the students adapted well to the VR simulation.
Dental students greatly appreciated the integration of VR simulation into the endodontic curriculum. From a didactic point of view, VR has considerable advantages over three-dimensional reconstructions and two-dimensional radiographs when teaching root canal anatomy.
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