Year : 2015 | Volume
: 2 | Issue : 2 | Page : 53--54
Education in the era of digitalization: The role of the dental school in the promotion of digital dentistry
Abdullah R AlShammery
Riyadh Colleges of Dentistry and Pharmacy, P. O. Box 84891, Riyadh 11681, Saudi Arabia
Abdullah R AlShammery
Riyadh Colleges of Dentistry and Pharmacy, P. O. Box 84891, Riyadh 11681
|How to cite this article:|
AlShammery AR. Education in the era of digitalization: The role of the dental school in the promotion of digital dentistry.Saudi J Oral Sci 2015;2:53-54
|How to cite this URL:|
AlShammery AR. Education in the era of digitalization: The role of the dental school in the promotion of digital dentistry. Saudi J Oral Sci [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Sep 18 ];2:53-54
Available from: http://www.saudijos.org/text.asp?2015/2/2/53/160755
The role of the dental educator is an important one because in addition to teaching students in; he also prepares them to provide dental care to the society into which they will graduate. While the past two decades have seen the revolutions in the fields of nanotechnology and genetics making their impact on dental materials and biological research, an equally important revolution has gone largely unnoticed-digital revolution. While this digital revolution in dentistry is often spoken about in terms of technological advances such as computer-aided design computer-aided manufacturing or digital three-dimensional scanning; the impact that this digital revolution has had on practice management is a fact that receives little attention in the ongoing scientific dental debate.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been a pioneer in ushering digital connectivity in the Middle East. Vast geographic distances and a scattered dispersion of population have made the internet an important tool in connecting the population. The Ministry of Health, the largest healthcare provider in Saudi Arabia has recognized this and developed a national e-health strategy which aims at the digitalization of patient records to enable better connectivity among health care professionals, improve evaluation of healthcare delivery and overall care given to patients.  Pilot programs for complete digitalization of patient records and communication between healthcare professionals have already been initiated in certain tertiary referral centers like the King Faisal Specialist Hospital. 
Saudi Arabia has approximately 6000 registered dentists  who have to provide dental services for a population of about 30 million citizens and residents. Currently, much of this dental workforce is concentrated in certain urban centers making the dentist population ratio even more skewed. The e-health strategy aims to completely digitalize all Ministry of Health records which should facilitate the spread of specialist knowledge across the length and breadth of the Kingdom.
In such an era of digitalization, the question dental educators need to ask is "are we doing enough to train our students to enter the digital dental workforce?" While the digitalization of dentistry in the form of digital radiographs has entered most dental schools, challenges still remain. There remains a lack of integration of digital dentistry into formal dental education curricula. Faculty members who are trained in the conventional methods of dental education need to be flexible to adapt themselves to newer technology. As with most things digital, more experienced faculty find themselves in the face of students who are perhaps more adept at operating software; and the challenge of preventing digital cheating.
These challenges, while real, cannot serve as an excuse for dental schools and educators to shy away from promoting digital education. In this context, we are proud to be associated with the digital education model of the Riyadh Colleges of Dentistry and Pharmacy. What began in 2010 as digital patient management software has now morphed into DentoPlus® a complete patient management software for dental education. Over the past 5 years, the Riyadh Colleges has invested countless man hours in putting together software that not only looks at patient management but also allows the student to monitor his or her own progress. The incorporation of several tools that allows monitoring of students, as well as their instructors, has resulted in a more objective measurement of performance for both instructors and the management. The greatest benefit of this system has been the creation of students and faculty who embrace technology and are ready to face the future. Keeping in mind, the importance of minor details in education, the system allows for detailed recording and charting and is every bit as thorough as the previous paper documentation system.
The dental school is the training ground for the practitioners of tomorrow. Dental educators, therefore, cannot step away from the responsibility of training dentists for the practice of tomorrow. Our experience here at Riyadh Colleges has shown us that we must "be the change we wish to see." Digitalization of dental practice in the near future is inevitable, and dental educators today have two choices. We can embrace the digitalization of dentistry and use our experience and wisdom toward developing a thorough and comprehensive digital dental system, or we can play catch-up, chasing whatever system industry throws at us. Dental education today must realize that the question of the hour in not "if" we should incorporate digital dentistry into our curricula and our schools, but rather one of "how soon" and "how."
|1||National eHealth Strategy and 5 Year Roadmap: Ministry of Health, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; 2011. Available from: . [Last accessed on 2014 Apr 20].|
|2||Alsanea N. The future of health care delivery and the experience of a tertiary care center in Saudi Arabia. Ann Saudi Med 2012;32:117-20.|