Dentistry and dental technology- how well do our future specialists prepare?

Digitization in the education of Dentistry and Dental Technology

“The world is becoming more and more digital”. Therefore this is one of the phrases circulating around us on “digital social media”. In fact it is on the forums we read on “our digital devices”. And maybe somewhere there, a friend or colleague who has read one of the many dedicated articles on his tablet or smartphone, mentions it in your chat as well. Digitalization is an indisputable fact indeed. Although some people refuse to accept this completely and still prefer to work with the old methods, our future specialists in dentistry and dental technology sometimes can not choose when it comes to their method of education in universities and colleges. According to Marcus Lensing, who publishes at zmt- aktuell.de (https://www.ztm-aktuell.de/technik/kronenbruecken/story/digital-…-ist-die-welt–wird-die-zahntechnik- -muss-die-ausbildung-sein__2001.html), a “modern dental technician” must combine classic dexterity skills with modern digital ones. Collaboration between dental practices and laboratories is also becoming more “digital”.

To what extent does the education meet the current requirements?

So to what extent do used methods and technologies meet the current requirements for knowledge and skills in universities, regarding the study of dentistry and dental technology? What difficulties do students face? Are students satisfied?

In order to find the answers to these questions, we conducted a survey and asked several students for their opinion, drawing a parallel between the education in Bulgaria and Germany. After the United States and China, according to the 2019 Atlas Dental study, the results of which were published by Annette Kieschnik in dentaldialogue.de (https://www.dentaldialogue.de/zahntechnik-zukunft-digitalisierung-globalisierung-dental-atlas-zahlen- daten-prognosen / ), to clarify, Germany is the third largest producer of medical technology in the world (including the dental industry).

Bulgaria or Germany? Do both countries have their pros and cons in education?

 At what level is the education? Is it difficult to apply? How affordable is it? What are the similarities between Bulgaria and Germany? What is different? Are Higher Education Institutions modernized?

The main impression is that in Germany education is at a higher level than in Bulgaria in terms of technology, The common opinion is that more Bulgarians go to study abroad than foreign students come to Bulgaria. Conversely it turns out that this is not quite the case and that the coin has two sides. However, one thing is certainly completely true – both in Bulgaria and in Germany, to successfully complete a medical degree, including dentistry and dental technology, is extremely challenging.

The impressions of the Bulgarian student in Germany

Tanya Kuzmova, who graduated from the Language High School “Ak. Lyudmil Stoyanov ”in Blagoegrad stops at the University of Berlin because of her participation in an exchange in a foster family in Berlin during her studies at  high school. In front of the AMOSYS team, she shared her experience as a dental student at the Charité Faculty in Berlin. (full interview at: https://amosys.eu/blog/2021/10/19/interview-student-germaniq/).

She shares about her studies, and says that the base has been modernized and practically focused. There are also many opportunities in the clinical semester. The university offers CAD / CAM technology: Students scan the tooth. They make the crown digitally. Afterwards which the students print the crown. However, the exchange of information between colleagues takes place over the telephone or with paper notes. Tanya Kuzmova shares about her case when it was forgotten to send her tooth prints. She believes that despite all the modern equipment, it would be good for the method of information exchange to happen digitally through a software so that the whole process runs smoothly.

The other view – the German student in Bulgaria

Marcel, from a small town in the state of Baden-Württemberg, decided to study dentistry at the Medical University in Sofia. (http://marcel-in-bulgarien.de/medizinstudium-in-bulgarien). Why does Marcel start studying in Bulgaria? A problem in Germany is the limited number of places and the necessary high score for entering this specialty (1.3 points, equivalent to 5.70 in Bulgaria, or an A or 8 in the UK).

The positive thing in Bulgaria is that there are more places. In addition to the assessment of secondary education, most universities take the assessments in chemistry and biology also into account. Furthermore an entrance exam is held at the university itself. Those two factors make Marcel’s study in Bulgaria possible. Among the things Marcel found to be extremely important during his studies were colloquia and teaching in small groups. Colloquia, special exams for testing students’ knowledge two to four times per subject and per semester, are intermediate exams that are unknown in Germany, but these intermediate “knowledge tests” ensure that students also study during the semester.

What technologies are used at the two universities?

At what level are the technologies used in Bulgaria? From the conversation with Tanya Kuzmova we understand that she keeps in touch with dental students at the Medical University in Plovdiv, comparing her teaching methods and technologies with her colleagues’. “In Bulgaria, education is also at an extremely high level. Perhaps the only drawback compared to Germany is the purely financial aspect “, but the University of Plovdiv can also boast of CAD and CAM technologies, which, as Tanya Kuzmova mentions, makes scanning and printing as a 3D model possible.

In addition, universities in Bulgaria continue to strive for improvement. An article on puls.bg (https://bit.ly/3jI1eiQ) comments on the new halls for simulation training of dental students. In essence, the halls are equipped with 50 modern dental simulators. They offer great opportunities for modern preclinical training of students and specialists in dental medicine at full capacity in most clinical dental specialties: prosthetic dentistry medicine, pediatric dentistry, surgical dentistry and endodontics, periodontology, dental implantology and oral surgery.

Cons in Germany?

In Germany, despite the availability of new technologies, Marcus Lensing criticized education in his publication, due to the unsystematic handling of CAD and CAM during some of the courses and the need to improve the very structure of lecture courses. When the “classical” collides with the “modern”, the need for restructuring in order for the technologies to be fully used and actually studied as  it will be necessary in future practice arises. The realization of ideas from the Faculty of Medicine in Plovdiv, such as that of Dr. Anelia Vlahova in co-authorship with Dr. Stefan Zlatev, MD, Head of the CAD / CAM Center of the Faculty of Dental Medicine in Plovdiv to create and print the monograph “CAD / CAM TECHNOLOGIES IN PROSTHETICS DENTAL MEDICINE ”(published in the CAD / CAM Center for Dental Medicine) turned out to be something extremely necessary.

What is actually important?

Universities are working in the right direction, but adapting new methods takes time. The modern base provides a good foundation, but practical skills remain at the forefront. The knowledge gained during the study, whether in Bulgaria or Germany, is at a very good level and without them, new technologies would be meaningless. Each university has its advantages and disadvantages. However, the fact that students are open to innovations, the risks of studying in foreign countries and the motivation to study medical specialties in a foreign language is a sign that our specialists are up to standard and dedicate themselves to their profession willingly.

Sources:

  1. Lensing Markus. 07.04. „Digital … ist die Welt … wird die Zahntechnik … muss die Ausbildung sein!“; https://bit.ly/3jIdrnC
  2. Kieschnick Annett. “Zukunft Zahntechnik.Wie gut sind Sie vorbereitet?”; https://bit.ly/3rto6H0
  3. “Marcel in Bulgaria”. Personal Blog; https://bit.ly/3vmqtMN
  4. Tanya Kuzmova. Interview with TEACS Ltd; https://amosys.eu/blog/2021/10/19/interview-student-germaniq/
  5. Deutsche Welle for Bulgaria. 02/13/2019 “Why Germans study dentistry in Bulgaria”; https://bit.ly/3OeNlq9
  6. MU Varna. September 19, 2019. “Modern simulation training in dental medicine in Varna.”; https://bit.ly/3jI1eiQ
  7. Dr. Anelia Vlahova and Dr. Stefan Zlatev. CAD / CAM Center for Dental Medicine; https://bit.ly/3uJDD7B