School of Dentistry


Minnesota Dental Research Center for Biomaterials and Biomechanics

Virtual Dental Patient

Virtual Dental Patient (VDP)

The Virtual Dental Patient is a special software program that was developed by Dr. Ralph DeLong and supported by a NIDCR grant. The Virtual Dental Patient is an interactive 3D computer rendition of a dental patient that accurately reproduces the surface anatomy of hard and soft dental tissues, tooth contacts, and jaw motion while the teeth are in contact. Because of its numerical nature, the VDP is easily stored, enabling comparisons of sequential VDPs. Quantification of the differences between sequential VDPs provides valuable information for diagnosis, prognosis and outcome assessment of the patient's dental health. The VDP represents a paradigm shift in clinical measurement for dentistry.

The Virtual Dental Patient can be used to go beyond the traditional dental examination. The VDP provides visibility, numerical measurement (including volume and depth changes), and comparison with a previous time period. The VDP provides an environment of near photographic quality, with hard and soft tissue textural details and anatomical relations preserved under static or dynamic conditions. Finally, the VDP enables a dentist to detect subclinical change. Changes below the threshold of chairside observation are now made visible; therefore, adverse incipient dental disease can be detected before it becomes a clinical problem.


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  • Last modified on August 29, 2012