Quality of root canal treatment performed by undergraduate students at the Wits Oral Health Centre
Keywords:Quality, root canal treatment, undergraduate student.
In 2012, the School of Oral Health Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand modified its undergraduate
endodontic curriculum which led to a need to assess the impact of curriculum changes on root canal treatment
outcomes. This study was an audit of root canal treatment performed by undergraduate BDS students using
postoperative radiographs, and compared the results between different undergraduate clinical years of study.
Postoperative periapical radiographs of patients treated by undergraduate students were examined to assess
length, density and taper. Two independent investigators were first calibrated, and thereafter assessed 299
endodontic cases that were performed by third, fourth and fifth year students during the 2013-2015 period at
the Wits Oral Health Centre. 68.9%, 73.6% and 70.9% were found for adequate length, acceptable density and acceptable taper of root filling respectively. The most acceptable length, density and taper results were seen in patients treated by final year students, while the lowest results were observed in the fourth year student cohort. There was a tendency for third year students to overfill due to over-instrumentation of anterior teeth.
The change in the curriculum has been justified, though room for improvement exists. The superior result found in the 5th year student cohort was most likely due to their relative experience, and the use of rotary instrumentation and dental operating microscopes. Endodontic teaching should further emphasize the importance of length control during endodontic treatment and more stringent steps may be necessary during patient allocation and clinical supervision of fourth year dental students.
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