Students' perception of three-dimensionally printed teeth in endodontic training

Eur J Dent Educ. 2022 Nov;26(4):653-661. doi: 10.1111/eje.12743. Epub 2021 Dec 26.


Introduction: In endodontic education, there is a need for thorough training prior to students embarking on clinical treatment. The aim of this study was to use three-dimensional printing technology to create a new model and to compare its suitability for training purposes with resin blocks and extracted teeth.

Materials and methods: Multi-jet-modelling (MJM) produced the 3D model replicating a common difficulty in root-canal morphology. An evaluation study comprising 88 students was run in the sixth semester (summer 2018 and winter 2018/2019). A new questionnaire assessed students' perception of training models and educational environment. Welch's t-test analysed significant differences.

Results: The most pronounced differences between models were noted when rating material hardness, radiopacity, root-canal configuration and suitability for practising. Students estimated their learning outcome as greater with 3D-printed teeth compared to resin blocks. Three-dimensionally printed teeth received significantly lower ratings with regard to enthusiasm, the learning of fine motor skills and spatial awareness, when compared to human teeth (p ≤ .001). However, 3D-printed teeth were appreciated for additional benefits, such as their cleanliness, availability and standardisation of training opportunities with complex root-canal configurations.

Conclusion: Students preferred extracted human teeth to 3D-printed teeth with respect to their physical characteristics and training experience. However, educational advantages may compensate for the shortcomings. The new questionnaire proved both adequate and accurate to assess the models and educational environment in endodontic training. The new 3D-printed teeth enhanced the learning opportunities.

Keywords: 3D-printed tooth; dental education; endodontics; root-canal treatment; teaching materials; three-dimensional printing.

MeSH terms

  • Education, Dental*
  • Humans
  • Perception
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional
  • Students
  • Tooth*