This chapter describes the haptic dental simulator developed at the University of Illinois at Chicago. It explores its use and advantages as an educational tool in dentistry and examines the structure of the simulator, its hardware and software components, the simulator’s functionality, reality assessment, and the users’ experiences with this technology. The authors hope that the dental haptic simulation program should provide significant benefits over traditional dental training techniques. It should facilitate students’ development of necessary tactile skills, provide unlimited practice time and require less student/instructor interaction while helping students learn basic clinical skills more quickly and effectively.
The simulator system consists of a high-end computer workstation with appropriate software (listed below), a haptic device, and a stereoscopic computer monitor with stereo glasses. The computer renders three-dimensional (3D) graphics that can be viewed with the stereo glasses, and operates the haptic device that provides a realistic tactile sensation. Onscreen VR instruments can be manipulated on this monitor by operating the haptic device stylus for sensing life-like contact and interaction with teeth and associated periodontal structures.