Boston University to become first seamlessly integrated Digital Dental School in the nation

Nov. 4, 2014
Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine (GSDM) announced at the 2014 American Dental Association (ADA) Annual Session in San Antonio, Texas on Oct. 11 that it has entered into an agreement with Sirona Dental Systems, Inc. that will help enable GSDM to becomethe first US dental school to transition entirely to seamlessly integrated digital dentistry.

One of the largest dental schools in the US, GSDM offers innovative educational, clinical, research, and community-based programs, including international initiatives. GSDM is committed to providing state-of-the-art technology to its students, faculty, and staff, and to fostering the understanding of advanced technology by practitioners in the community. In May 2013, an internal task force was established to determine the necessary facilities, equipment, and support required to create a seamless, all-inclusive digital patient record to facilitate comprehensive treatment planning and efficient delivery of oral health care at the highest level of quality using digital dental technologies.

The findings of that task force led GSDM to enter into an agreement with Sirona that will assist GSDM in becoming the first all-digital school of dentistry in the nation. “Digital Dentistry is the wave of the future, and we are gratified to be collaborating with Sirona to make seamless digital dentistry a reality at Boston University,” said Dean Jeffrey W. Hutter.

Once fully implemented, all patient data will feed into a comprehensive digital record. Intra-oral digital images, intra-oral exams, and digital scans of hard and soft tissues will then be accessible through a comprehensive record. Ancillary information such as photographs and CT, cone beam, cephalometric, panoramic, and facial scans will also be attached to the digital record. These data may be overlaid and interact to produce a complete digital representation of the patient, including 3-D renderings of the face. Students will then be able to engage in comprehensive treatment planning without the need for the physical presence of the patient, saving valuable patient time. Additionally, these data can be accessed remotely, allowing for consultation with experts around the globe.

This collaboration also includes digital technology that will be used in the Pre-clinical Simulation Learning Center, where dental students spend up to the first two years of their dental school education working on simulated patients. The use of digital preparation analysis software will allow the pre-clinical students to perform self-study and guided learning of tooth preparations. Pre-clinical training using CEREC and prepCheck software is an important part of the digital transition permitting students to fine tune their tooth preparation skills prior to entering the Patient Treatment Center. “We anticipate that our students will now enter the Patient Treatment Centers better prepared than in the past when this technology was not available,” said Dean Hutter, “Our vision is to be the premier academic dental institution promoting excellence in dental education, research, oral health care, and community service to improve the overall health of the global population. Transitioning to seamless digital dentistry will help us fulfill that vision.”

There will now be a sufficient number of CEREC systems so that every student will be expected to use the system routinely to develop a treatment plan and have the opportunity to deliver restorations in a single patient visit. We anticipate that incorporation of the Galileo cone beam system with CEREC intra-oral scan data (CAD/CAM) will allow for the creation of the “virtual patient” and, thus, enable comprehensive treatment planning for endodontics, implants, orthodontics, orthognathic surgery, periodontics, restorative dentistry, and TMJ and airway disorders.

Recognized as a leading research institution among dental schools, GSDM will conduct an innovative program of comparative effectiveness research on digital dentistry in both clinical and educational outcomes. Through this research, GSDM expects to play a leading role in advancing evidence-based dentistry in the US and the world.

Since digital technology is not static and will continue to rapidly advance, GSDM will also participate in a progressive program of events to educate the dental community about digital dentistry, including continuing education courses and educational forums.