Endodontics deals with the morphology, physiology and pathology of the human dental pulp and peri-radicular tissues. Second-year undergraduates are taught the biology of the normal pulp as well as the aetiology, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of various conditions of the pulp and peri-radicular tissues. Third and final-year students then get supervised hands-on practise in providing endodontic treatment for patients.
Operative Dentistry deals with the restoration of the diseased or damaged tooth. Students are introduced to the basics of cavity preparation and restoration in their first year. During the two-year pre-clinical course, students practise simple filling procedures in the phantom head room where they develop their psychomotor skills and learn to manipulate restorative materials. They will then bring these skills to the clinic when they treat patients.
Prosthodontics restores oral structures through the use of crowns, bridges, dentures and implants. The undergraduate prosthodontic programme stretches over three years, beginning with removable partial denture technique in the second year. Fixed prosthodontics is introduced at the end of the second year. Simple prosthodontic work is carried out in third-year clinics and more complex cases in final-year clinics.
Another important focus of the department is research. Major areas of research include the development of biomaterials for dental use, alternatives to dental amalgam, and the development of IT-related and multimedia applications in teaching and learning.
The efforts in research have paid off with a recent patent on the invention and development of a carbon dental post. The concept of a functionally graded material was employed in the development of a dental post. This was to help reduce the stress concentration at the tip of the dental post which is cemented in the endodontically treated tooth. A graded stiffness, where the apical end is of lower stiffness than the coronal end, allows more even dissipation of stresses in root dentine. Finite element analysis and photoelastic stress analysis were performed to test the efficacy of this new material.