On Tuesday 28 June 2022, King’s welcomed several Parliamentarians from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Dentistry and Oral Health, providing them with a tour of the award winning simulation, clinical and training facilities used at the Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences (FoDOCS).
Established in 2008 to act as a cross-party forum for dental and oral health issues in Parliament, the APPG for Dentistry and Oral Health works to raise the profile of dentistry, highlighting the views of both patients and the profession.
On their visit, APPG members learned more about the blended learning curriculum at FoDOCS, where students integrate simulation and the delivery of clinical care throughout their time here in a holistic way which supports and develops their clinical competency and skills.
The tour began with a showcase of our simulation laboratory: 18 modern workstations using a combination of Augmented Reality and haptics - mechanical feedback systems to simulate real-world physical touch interaction. APPG members were show how innovative technology is being used and were given the opportunity to try it themselves.
Dentistry has been a big conversation of late in the House of Commons, so we were pleased to be afforded the opportunity to tour the state-of-the-art facilities at the Faculty. MPs don’t always have a full understanding of the intricacies of training dentists and the resources needed – today’s visit provided an invaluable insight into what is involved.– Sir Paul Beresford MP, Chair of APPG for Dentistry & Oral Health
The APPG actively contributes to informing and shaping government policy around dental care and oral health so we were delighted to host them today and share how embracing innovation is key to developing the next generation of dental graduates and enable their timely progression into the healthcare workforce.– Professor Michael Escudier, FoDOCS Executive Dean
Attendees were then shown four newly installed dental simulation labs, with 90 advanced ‘phantom-head’ dental simulators which can utilise both plastic, 3D printed simulating for example dental decay and root canal treatments and extracted teeth. The simulators are supported by state-of-the-art online learning technology platforms, including accurate intra-oral scanners, which are used to scan the oral anatomy of patients who are being treated in our partner hospitals or indeed plastic or donated human teeth.
The key advantage of this curriculum innovation is to allow students the opportunity to move the scans into the high-fidelity system to practice the clinical procedure in the haptically enabled learning environment, before carrying it out on a real-live patient.
Finally, the tour concluded with APPG members touring a recently refurbished clinical area meeting with several Postgraduate students.
Trying my hand at drilling in virtual reality has certainly given me a newfound appreciation of the knowledge and dexterity needed to treat patients’ teeth... As the country faces a dental access crisis and growing health inequalities, for the sake of communities up and down the country we must ensure these talented young dentists will feel they can put their skills to good use in our National Health Service.– Yasmin Qureshi MP, Vice-Chair of the APPG for Dentistry and Oral Health
Throughout the visit, APPG members heard how through the use of these advanced ‘phantom-head’ dental simulators and virtual haptic machines, FoDOCS became the first in the world to integrate clinical digital learning across all its facilities. During the COVID-19 pandemic this enabled King’s to graduate fully qualified dentists on time.
The innovations also enabled King’s and its partner NHS trusts to continue providing essential oral care across south London, and future-proofed its training of oral care clinicians. The initiative is informing practice at other dental training institutions and trusts.
Attending from the APPG were Sir Paul Beresford MP, Sir Peter Bottomley MP (Father of the House of Commons), Judith Cummins MP, Yasmin Qureshi MP & Jerome Mayhew MP, as well as staff from the British Dental Association, who provide secretariat to the APPG.