From classroom teaching to clinical practice: experiences of senior dental students regarding the shortened dental arch concept
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This study explored the barriers to a meaningful translation of didactic classroom instruction to clinical practice, using the shortened dental arch (SDA) concept as a case study. A combination of survey and individual and group interviews (a mixed- methods approach) was used to collect data related to the SDA. The cohort consisted of senior dental students and their clinical teachers at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. The response rates were 100 percent for the students (n=73) and 78 percent for the clinical teachers (n=16). Triangulation was employed to eliminate bias and strengthen the reliability of the re- search. In the quantitative analysis, most students (81 percent) reported having heard about the SDA concept at the university, but their responses revealed an absence of clinical implementation. The students agreed that patients can function adequately with an SDA and agreed with presenting it as a treatment option to patients. In the qualitative analysis, a “change in the clinical require- ments,” “being empowered by exposing them to SDA literature,” and “change in health policies” were recommended measures to increase implementation of the SDA approach clinically. The students were positive about the SDA as a treatment option, but the lack of adequate knowledge and encouragement in clinical implementation was a hindrance to its use.