Evaluation of dental students’ knowledge and opinion about learning with virtual reality
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AIM: Virtual reality (VR) based technologies have been used in dentistry for almost two decades. Dental simulators, treatment planning software, and CAD/CAM systems have evolved significantly over the years, changing both dental education and clinical practice. The purpose of this survey study is to learn the knowledge, opinions, and thoughts of dental students in our country on the use of VR-based dental simulators in education, and to raise awareness on this issue. METHODS: Questions testing participants’ knowledge were based on the data from peer-reviewed dental journals. The survey questions consisting of a total of 25 questions were delivered online via Google Forms (Google Inc., USA) to students who had preclinical training in the dental faculty before the Covid-19 pandemic. The data obtained were evaluated using the descriptive statistics and Pearson chi-square test. RESULTS: 422 of the 662 students in the study were female and 240 were male students. 82.3% of the study participants were studying at a state university. 74.6% of the participants in the study stated that they needed more preclinical education. While 89.9% of the students participating in the survey stated that they do not have information about preclinical education with virtual reality, 97.4% stated that they have not used a VR-based dental simulator before. 85.5% of them stated that they feel positive about training in virtual environment with VR-based dental simulator and 86% of them prefer using both VR-based training and phantom models in preclinical training. CONCLUSION: Dental students had overall positive attitudes towards VR-based dental simulator but very few used VR-based dental simulators in education and practice. While using VR-based dental simulators as part of undergraduate and continuing education programs is rapidly advancing in the world, in our country having knowledge about VR-based dental simulators will increase awareness for the development of such technologies and their inclusion in dentistry education.