Although the current method for border molding is very popular, the practical environment varies among countries and dental schools. According to the previous studies in the United Kingdom [3, 10, 11], students have limited opportunities to fabricate complete dentures due to decreasing lecture times and declining numbers of edentulous patients. Instead, they are forced to make copy or repair dentures [12, 13]. Although this is also required knowledge, it is not fundamental knowledge. In the United States, many dental schools and postgraduate curricula continue to use custom tray impressions with silicone after border molding with dental compound [14,15,16]. While some studies suggest that using dental compounds requires advanced skills, others suggest that adequate training can be achieved through the treatment of several cases [9, 16]. It is true that patients exhibit different denture shapes and muscle activation patterns, and dentists should familiarize themselves with these differences through clinical experience. However, as was mentioned by Swenson , complete dentures do have a basic form, and skills cannot be applied without mastery of the fundamentals. As the number of patients continues to decline, practice with models can provide a proper foundation for students’ clinical skills.
Many studies have investigated the effect of denture impression method. As discussed in a review , a few studies with high-quality evidence indicated that the simplified impression method (single alginate impression) showed better results than the conventional impression method (preliminary and final impression), primarily in cost and time [18,19,20,21,22]. However, the high-quality papers such as those mentioned above came from only four research groups. There are a few who advocate the necessity of the two-step impression method . Whichever method is chosen, additional research is needed. In many countries, dentists take impressions using border molding, which alludes to the fact that border molding is valuable for the treatment of edentulous patients.
This study did have some limitations. The response rate for plaster models was quite low, at 48.3%, and it was likely influenced by the time of collection. In addition, the reliability of the results is low, since the questionnaire was only conducted with students from one dental school. However, the histograms of the three student groups showed the same frequency distribution and had the same median with the highest frequency; therefore, the samples were considered valid for statistical analysis. However, the results of this study should not be over-generalized, since high external validity is not likely with just one study. Therefore, the external validity of this field will increase as many researchers complement each other.
The three factors extracted in this study were matched with the factors in the planning phase. Cronbach’s alpha coefficients were greater than 0.8, indicating the high credibility of the results. Moreover, intermediate correlations were observed between two of the three factors, indicating the adequacy of the exploratory factor analysis.
Students’ self-evaluations for “knowledge of border molding” were higher for silicone than for plaster models, and for mannequins than for plaster models. In silicone models, the edges are pressed to form the border indirectly, whereas in mannequins, the structures on the model resembling the lips or buccal mucosa hinder border molding. However, this is not the case with plaster models. Therefore, silicone models and mannequins are more suitable than plaster models for border molding practice. Furthermore, the change from silicone models to mannequins did not affect the students’ self-evaluations, indicating that the limitations created by mannequins did not have a drastic effect on evaluations compared with the change from plaster to silicone models. In addition, the evaluations for the silicone models and mannequins might have been too high to allow any differences to be seen.
The “contents of practical training” was also significantly affected by the change in models, especially from plaster models to mannequins. Many dental schools in the Unites States have used mannequins for more than 10 years, but their specifications and the effects of their use remain unclear . Mannequins have been used to take 73.7% and 57.9% of all primary and final impressions, respectively, in Spain and Portugal . It therefore seems that the use of mannequins has not achieved a high degree of legitimacy. Mannequins are effective for bridging the gap between the laboratory and clinical setting, which, in addition to the learning effects, helps students develop a clearer understanding of actual treatment procedures. The use of different models might contribute to an improvement in the overall evaluation of practical training.
No significant differences were observed in “personal learning attitude” in this study, but mean scores were highest with the mannequin, followed by the silicone and plaster models in descending order. This result indicates the possibility that practice with models had a positive effect. Each student worked with and assessed only one training model, and this should be kept in mind when considering the validity of the results.
The purpose of using silicone models is to help students comprehend the characteristics of modeling compounds and develop skills in border molding. Silicone models are already used in postgraduate training courses and objective structured clinical examinations. In the future, it is expected to expand the use of the silicone models for general improvement in treatment, and border molding training should include movable and immovable mucosa and free lingual movement to make it more consistent with actual clinical conditions. Considering the limited time and number of cases included in the dental curriculum, silicone models are expected to allow an adequate mimicking of clinical conditions and to foster better impression-taking skills.