The nerve block anesthesia is a fundamental anesthesiological procedure in clinical dentistry. The technique still most widely used and taught remains the so-called inferior alveolar block. This procedure is often a source of frustration for clinicians, as it is affected by high failure rates, which according to some authors are as high as 20-25%. This is due, at least in part, to conditions that depend on the operator, such as, for example, the difficulty in identifying anatomical findings, failure to comply with waiting times and, in general, incorrect application of the operational protocol.
These problems are also reported by experienced operators. Even more so, in the case of clinicians undergraduate training, knowledge of the theoretical bases of the procedure is essential, and the adoption of a cautious approach to the practical phase is equally necessary. Before dealing with the anatomical reality of the patient, the student has the opportunity to practice on mannequins, used in the practical teaching of all areas of dentistry.
In recent years, in the medical-surgical field, there has been a significant development in the field of digital programming and, with regard to education, positive experiences with virtual and AR technologies have been reported. An interesting article by Gimenez Correa and colleagues, published in mid-2017 in the Journal of Applied Oral Science, validated such a system in dental training and, in particular, regarding the inferior alveolar block procedure.
The simulator used is a haptic interface: in general, the term identifies a robotic device that interacts directly with the human operator, who receives in response tactile sensations (the term comes from the Greek word hapto, “touch”), for example the forces related to the object with which the contact is taking place. A joystick with force feedback or a mouse, whose wheel locks at the point where the user reaches the edge of the screen, are two very simple examples of haptic interfaces.
The device has been coupled to the syringe model cartridge, while at the visual level have been modeled the local anatomical pictures of patients of 7 and 12 years.
The validation protocol involved a total of 26 beginners and more experienced professionals. The system is already efficient in simulating the location of the dosing point – both position and depth – and the perception of the penetrated tissues (this element is indicated as perceptible). It is therefore desirable to spread the systematic training in dentistry, perhaps optimized for the simulation of the anatomy of the adult, situations of pathology, and possibly further anesthetic procedures.