offering dental students new materials to learn about

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“Highly educated dental students mean lifelong tooth preservation”

Future dental students have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience working with cutting-edge materials as part of an education roadshow being presented by GC and Prof. Falk Schwendicke. (Image: GC)

Mon. 10. July 2023


Prof. Falk Schwendicke, head of the Department of Oral Diagnostics, Digital Health and Health Services Research at Charité—Universitätsmedizin Berlin in Germany, has taken to the road to offer educational talks across Europe in conjunction with GC. Speaking with audiences at universities during his roadshow, Prof. Schwendicke is introducing dental students to new alternatives in dental restoration, a hot topic as dentistry faces the impact of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

Prof. Falk Schwendicke providing instruction on the uses of various materials that are viable alternatives to amalgam. (Image: GC)

Prof. Schwendicke, what exactly does your roadshow entail?
The roadshow is an educational programme with theoretical and hands-on activities for fourth- and fifth-year undergraduate students and their lecturers at various European universities, reaching approximately 60 students per session. Because of new materials available, the future of dentistry looks different. With the Minamata agreement leading to a phase-down or, more likely, a phase-out of dental amalgam, the question of alternative materials is more pressing than ever. The roadshow is presenting different restorative options to the universities and future dentists to replace amalgam and offer advanced solutions in several clinical situations.

How is the information being presented?
Students are first presented with different materials during a theoretical lesson. Afterwards, during the hands-on session, they have the opportunity to manipulate the materials and form their own opinions on handling properties, ease of use and features like efficiency and inventory.

Are there any facets of the programme that you have noticed particularly garner student attention?
Besides being introduced to different materials, the students learn about the various features of products that are available on the market. Glass ionomers, for example, are particularly interesting. Although dental professionals continue to be under the impression that glass ionomers are a temporary solution, I am able to present evidence suggesting that glass ionomers may be a permanent restorative option for a number of indications. I’ve noticed that being presented with different restorative options and offered knowledge that dispels old ideas is appealing to students!

What do you hope the outcome of this project will be?
The Minamata agreement has led us to seek restorative alternatives. Throughout the years, a range of amalgam alternatives have been introduced, and dentists will need to decide which material fits which indication best. Resin composites are excellent materials but challenges in the daily practice remain: not all situations can be solved with composites! Glass ionomers have a range of advantages, but abrasion and flexural strength are potential drawbacks. The modern glass ionomer, glass hybrids, is an interesting option when used according to the correct indications.

Introducing students to various restorative options that can replace amalgam and preserve tooth structure may help them in making the correct material selection and consequently providing high-quality treatment to their patients. Highly educated dental students mean lifelong tooth preservation and improved overall health for patients.

Alternative materials Amalgam Mercury Minamata Convention on Mercury

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