Second-year students at the University of Mississippi School of Dentistry are now crafting dentures. David Felton, DDS, professor of care planning and restorative dentistry sciences and dean of the school, designed the pilot program to give students more hands-on experience in learning how to make dentures by treating a patient in the clinical setting.
“We can go from the classroom to the bench lab to the chairside, and they get to learn firsthand,” said Felton.
Felton began screening potential patients earlier in 2017. Patients were first recruited from the University of Mississippi Medical Center community. Of the 30 selected, 18 were chosen and paired with two dental students each. Both students crafted a set of dentures, and the patient picked the pair that fit best.
For example, students Brandie White and Nikki Morel worked with patient Dyanne Sellers, who had lost her teeth in an automobile crash in 1985. Sellers has had several pairs of dentures since then, but none of them have fit correctly.
“With my old dentures, there was no room for my tongue. The bottom ones had recently broken two different times,” said Sellers. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a set of teeth that fit like this. It’s a perfect fit.”
“She cried and told us that we were really changing lives,” said Morel of her patient, who received her dentures after treatment that required eight visits to the school. “It made me feel like we are here for a purpose and that what we are doing is important.”
“What we’re given in class is stone models of ‘the ideal patient,’ and that’s not really ever the case,” said student Mary Linda Remley. “We were able to work with our patient but also talk with others and see their patients and their ridges and what they were having to do.”
Plans are underway for next year’s course, scheduled for fall 2018 but possibly starting in the summer. The school is now looking for patients, who cannot have any natural teeth nor any excess bone that would interfere with the fitting of the dentures.
“We need to find patients who do not have a severely compromised mouth but one that gives our students a good potential for a valuable learning experience,” said Felton.