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The teaching of occlusion in undergraduate dental schools in the UK and Ireland


Aim This study investigated and evaluated the teaching of occlusion in undergraduate dental schools in the UK and Ireland, the thorough understanding of which would facilitate young graduates to become competent practitioners.

Material and methods A mixed-methods approach was employed, with primary data generated and collected by using a cross-sectional, questionnaire-based survey which was followed-up by semi-structured interviews. The hard copy questionnaires enquired about: i) whether occlusion was taught; ii) how long was spent by schools teaching occlusion; iii) what teaching resources were employed; iv) tutors' perceptions of how well prepared for general practice new graduates were; and v) how was knowledge/skill assessed. Follow-up interviews were undertaken with volunteering respondents to triangulate responses. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics and qualitative data were stored using the Framework Method and analysis using a thematic approach.

Results One hundred percent (n = 18) of schools responded to the questionnaire and 66.67% (n = 12) of the schools participated in follow-up interviews. All schools reported that they taught occlusion in their curriculum. Total hours reported teaching occlusion varied from 11 to 310 hours. Twenty-eight percent (n = 5) of respondents reported insufficient time for the teaching of occlusion in the curriculum. There was a marked variation in: i) teaching methods; ii) resources employed; iii) assessment strategies to evaluate competency in occlusion; and iv) how well prepared students were. Thematic analysis of the qualitative data identified several themes: i) variations in teaching pedagogy; ii) use of different resources; iii) variable assessment techniques; iv) evaluation of teaching; and v) barriers to teaching occlusion.

Conclusion Recommendations for a coordinated teaching strategy with dedicated oversight to facilitate better student exposure to occlusion and promote student understanding of this topic is suggested.

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We are extremely grateful to all individuals from all undergraduate dental schools in the UK and Ireland, who volunteered their time and expertise to complete the questionnaire and to participate in the interviews. Without their encouragement and assistance this study would not have been possible.

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Correspondence to Peter D. Fine.

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O’Carroll, E., Leung, A., Fine, P. et al. The teaching of occlusion in undergraduate dental schools in the UK and Ireland. Br Dent J 227, 512–517 (2019).

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