Life-like model teeth to help students

La Trobe University’s physicists, electronic engineers and oral health staff have joined forces with industry to create large life-like teeth that will help dentistry and oral health students at the Bendigo campus understand the tissue structure and anatomy of teeth in a new interactive way.

Life-like model teeth!Dr Bendicta Arhatari, Post-Doctoral Fellow from the Physics Department, x-rayed real teeth to create the larger than life plastic models using 3D printers in La Trobe’s Electronic Engineering Department and at RMIT.  Unlike other models which show tooth surfaces as smooth, these were created to realistically show grooves and fault lines which are often hard to see with the naked eye.

The project was carried out with Dr Maurice White from the Supertooth NDK company who collaborated with La Trobe’s Kathy Andrewartha from Research Development and  Dr Arhatari.

Ms Andrewartha first saw the potential for the three departments to work together across campuses resulting in a very innovative project.

Colleen McCarthy, Dentistry and Oral Health Lecturer, says that ‘the life-like teeth will be used as learning and teaching resources in Oral Health at Bendigo. The models were produced from real teeth samples and show pits and fissures where bacteria and plaque collect and often cause cavities in molars and wisdom teeth.  

‘This will enable students to be aware of what pits and fissure look like as they are difficult to see on real teeth.

‘Students will also become aware of what the tooth surface looks like and also what is occurring within the tooth which is often hard to see even with a microscope,’ says Ms McCarthy.

‘With over eleven million Australians affected by tooth decay each year, it is becoming Australia’s most prevalent health problem. Initiatives like this will create competent oral health professionals who have a better working knowledge of teeth anatomy.’

Ms McCarthy hopes that the cross disciplinary collaboration continues its innovative projects. ‘In the future we are looking to create other types of teeth, both healthy and diseased specimens,’ says Ms McCarthy.

She says, ‘the Supertooth NDK Company and Ms Andrewartha approached La Trobe, with ideas on tooth decay prevention and it was from here the idea to create the life-like tooth models emerged and the program could not be possible without all their help.’


Media Enquires:

Zerin Knight, Media Liaison, Bendigo Campus, T + 61 3 5444 7375 M + 61 4 2846 3161 E