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Sim lab vs real patients


Full Member
May 14, 2020
  1. Pre-Medical
    Hi guys, hope all is well. I’ve been reconsidering doing medicine for a while, and have been learning about dentistry. My question is, how similar is working in the sim lab to real patients? If you like sim lab, is that a sure sign you will like dentistry? I ask because when watching procedures done in sim lab, everything seems much more controlled and less difficult, at least from my outsider perspective. If not, do you get used to the transition to real patients?
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    Adam White, DDS
    10+ Year Member
    5+ Year Member
    Feb 28, 2006
    1. Dentist
      Real patients are a lot harder to work on because of movement, their tongue and saliva. If you work with a rubber dam, it's much more similar to sim lab. It also depends a lot on the patient and how easy going they are.

      But ya, working on people is its own thing. I will say that in general the people that were the best in sim lab also did the best work on live patients fwiw.
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      Full Member
      7+ Year Member
      Oct 28, 2014
      1. Dentist
        It’s weird at first because the patient’s breath fogs up the mirror, there’s saliva, older patients can’t be leaned back all the way which impacts your visibility at times, so yeah, it’s interesting. There’s a tongue that’s in the way when you’re prepping a tooth for a crown, and sometimes patients have a very limited opening!

        You get used to it. Our school eases you into clinic by allowing you to clean teeth, complete recall exams, and do one simple filling at the beginning of second year.

        Don’t worry. Just take it one day at a time. Dental school is four long years to develop hand skills and clinical knowledge.

        Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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        Full Member
        5+ Year Member
        Jun 24, 2015
        1. Dentist
          Depends on the person I think. I know some people that thought working on the plastic teeth was easier, but I and others that I have talked to from my class actually found it easier to work on patients (in terms of creating a quality result). I think this is for two reasons: 1) it’s easy to damage the plastic teeth, but less so on real teeth and 2) by the time you get to work on real patients, your hand skills have improved a lot. In terms of standouts from our class in preclinic going into clinic, I saw a major leveling out of ability across the entire class over time. You figure this is because the people that It didn’t “click” for in preclinic put more hours into simlab projects to catch up with their classmates or made a larger effort to learn the ins and outs of dentistry in the clinic, which of course is entirely different.
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