Today’s dental students were raised on digital technologies, so today’s dental schools are responding by equipping themselves with the latest gear. For example, the University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine has completed the first phase of a $25 million renovation of its preclinical simulation center and patient clinics.
The first phase, a portion of the $11 million remodel of the preclinical simulation center, is the school’s first major renovation in more than 30 years and begins the transformation of the school’s Squire Hall into a state-of-the-art educational and clinical treatment facility.
“Dentistry has entered the digital age, and our job as an educational institution is to prepare our students for practice 5 years from now and 20 years from now,” said Joseph Zambon, PhD, DDS, dean of the School of Dental Medicine.
The facility, which Zambon called a “quantum leap” from the school’s previous laboratory, includes 110 individual student workstations that feature simulators designed to mimic patient care and ease the transition to the school’s patient clinics.
The center is designed to help first- and second-year dental students develop psychomotor skills, perform intraoral scanning, and digitally design and mill restorations. Computers at each workstation will have the same electronic health record software used at the school’s dental clinics.
“The practice of dentistry is going toward digital at lightning speed, and this generation of students is primed for this because they’re so tech-savvy,” said Jane D. Brewer, DDS, chair of the Department of Restorative Dentistry.
“Our laboratory techniques for anything that is made indirectly—from crowns and bridges to dentures and implants—many of these are planned and executed digitally through scanning, design, and milling,” said Brewer.
The second phase of the remodel will add 33 more student stations to the pre-clinic, as well as a faculty conference room, student small-group learning room, and a facility for computer-aided design and manufacturing. When complete this December, the pre-clinical simulation center will be twice the size of the previous facility.
In 2018, the School of Dental Medicine will begin construction of the Joseph and Stephanie Mucha Patient Welcome Center, funded by a $1 million donation from Stephanie Mucha. The center will serve as an information hub and first point of contact for new and existing patients.
Also in 2018, the school will begin a $12 million renovation of its Squire Hall dental clinics. Each year, the school provides nearly 150,000 patient care visits in its Squire Hall and Erie County Health Mall dental clinics and from its Mobile Dental Unit located in the Southern Tier.