Background: Most simulation models used at university dental clinics are typodonts. Usually, models show idealized eugnathic situations, which are rarely encountered in everyday practice. The aim of this study was to use 3D printing technology to manufacture individualized surgical training models for root tip resection (apicoectomy) on the basis of real patient data and to compare their suitability for dental education against a commercial typodont model. Methods: The training model was designed using CAD/CAM (computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing) technology. The printer used to manufacture the models employed the PolyJet technique. Dental students, about one year before their final examinations, acted as test persons and evaluated the simulation models on a visual analogue scale (VAS) with four questions (Q1-Q4). Results: A training model for root tip resection was constructed and printed employing two different materials (hard and soft) to differentiate anatomical structures within the model. The exercise was rated by 35 participants for the typodont model and 33 students for the 3D-printed model. Wilcoxon rank sum tests were carried out to identify differences in the assessments of the two model types. The alternative hypothesis for each test was: "The rating for the typodont model is higher than that for the 3D-printed model". As the p-values reveal, the alternative hypothesis has to be rejected in all cases. For both models, the gingiva mask was criticized. Conclusions: Individual 3D-printed surgical training models based on real patient data offer a realistic alternative to industrially manufactured typodont models. However, there is still room for improvement with respect to the gingiva mask for learning surgical incision and flap formation.
Keywords: 3D printing; 3D rapid prototyping; CAD/CAM; dental education; root resection; surgical training model.