Teaching Anatomical Sciences to Dental Students

  • Stephen McHanwellEmail author


Dentistry is a surgical science and dental students as well as some other members of the dental team require foundation in relevant anatomical subjects. Students need to study gross anatomy, oral anatomy including tooth morphology, neuroanatomy, histology and embryology. Courses in dental gross anatomy inevitably focus on the anatomy of the head and neck but courses in thoracic and, to a limited extent, abdominal anatomy also need to be included along with the gross anatomy of intravenous therapy. Basic foundations in histology provide a necessary introduction to the histology of the specialised dental tissues. Similarly an introductory embryology course will be needed to inform the basis for a detailed study of pre- and postnatal development of the head and neck. Neuroanatomy is required not simply for the understanding of pain and jaw movements but of somatic sensation more generally, the neuroanatomy of the cranial nerves and cranial interior. Most dental anatomical sciences are taught in the early years of a dental programme but given the clear links with a number of clinical courses there is a requirement for much stronger vertical integration and a need to revisit, from a clinical perspective, anatomy taught in the early years. At the same time clinical exemplification when anatomy is first taught will stress to dental students the importance of what they are studying providing an important motivation to learn. This chapter will review what can be considered appropriate to teach in a dental anatomy course, the possible ways in which dental anatomy can be taught, how anatomy can be horizontally and vertically integrated into the whole programme, the resources available to support anatomy teaching and the place of embryology and neuroanatomy in a dental gross anatomy course. It concludes with some practical advice for those setting out to teach dental anatomy.


Dental Student Dental School Interprofessional Education Neck Anatomy Tooth Morphology 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Medical Sciences Education Development and School of Dental SciencesNewcastle UniversityNewcastle upon TyneUK

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