The University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry has opened 3D Solutions @ OU Dentistry, a digital lab founded to enhance workflows and technology services on the Health Sciences Center (HSC) campus with virtual designs and planning, scanning, 3-D printing, and computer-controlled milling. It can produce dental crowns, splints, and dentures for the dental school as well as various educational and surgical projects for other departments.
With the most advanced technology, 3-D prints can take as little as 45 to 60 minutes, depending on size. Also, costs at 3D Solutions @ OU Dentistry are significantly cheaper than outside companies because the lab is housed on campus, the school reports. Clients can meet face to face with the team of prosthodontists who supervise the lab as well.
Residents and graduate students in the postdoctoral programs have access to the lab and use it daily, reducing chair time for their patients. Faculty members also have access to the lab and are using the 3-D materials for courses, giving students a unique hands-on experience they wouldn’t get at other dental schools, according to the school.
“The digital lab not only gives us the opportunity to provide our faculty with modern teaching materials for our students, but provides our students with the knowledge and resources to treat their patients more efficiently,” said Raymond A. Cohlmia, DDS, dean of the College of Dentistry.
Eventually, the college would like to incorporate the use of the machines permanently into the curriculum, creating digital dental technology courses where students would be trained extensively to use all types of dental technology. The combination of the digital lab and digital dental technology courses will mark the college as one of the first dental schools in the United States to teach technology at this level, the college says.
The lab is the result of months of extensive research, meetings, and brainstorming sessions, the college reports. Months before it opened, Cohlmia formed the Digital Dentistry Task Force to begin the conversation of integrating technology into the curriculum. The task force was developed to evaluate, design, and aid in the implementation of the digital technologies throughout the college for the benefit of the profession, the curriculum, academia, research, and other business opportunities.
“Across the HSC campus, several departments have shown interest in our lab and several others have started using 3D Solutions @ OU Dentistry for collaborative research projects and patient treatments,” said Yacoub Al Sakka, DDS, assistant professor in the Division of Prosthodontics, chair of the task force, and director of digital dental technologies. “Our vision is to become a leader both on campus and across Oklahoma. We want the lab to be utilized by all dental and medical professionals across the state.”