Christopher Stokes

Christopher Stokes

Professor of Digital Learning and Dental Education in the School of Clinical Dentistry and Cross-Cutting Director of Digital Learning at the University of Sheffield

Location School of Clinical Dentistry, University of Sheffield, UK


  • @RezwanaKhan Hi Rezwana - Yes, check out Prof Boissonade's video in Week 6 for some of the work being done in Sheffield (which will give you some pointers for researching dental neuroscience).

  • @PaigeRaymond Hi Paige - Welcome to the course. Ues, I believe this will be a good overview of the profession and will give you an idea if you would like to join it. I hope you enjoy it!

  • Hi - welcome to the course. We've designed this to be a really good basis for anyone wanting to enter the dental professions, and it should help you in preparing for admissions to dental education programmes. I hope you enjoy the course.

  • I'm very pleased to be able to welcome you to Discover Dentistry. I'll be visiting this course regularly to read the discussions and to help where I can, and if you have specific questions please reply to this post and @ me and I'll do my best to help.

  • At the moment, do anything (ideally evidencable) that shows that you are exploring the profession, and others that are related so you can answer the question "Yes, but why dentistry specifically? Why not [other health profession]?" Reading journals and books, engage online with dental professionals if you can (Youtube, Twitter etc), and as you mention courses...

  • FROM JILL: There are a few apps to help that link to some electric toothbrushes (or add-ons for brushes) for this, so it may get more popular.

  • FROM JILL: Soft to medium is recommended, but people still insist in having a harder brush as it feels like it is working better. As explained in the video it is not really getting into the gaps. While people buy them, the toothbrush manufacturers will sell them...

  • FROM JILL: Evidence says electric overall (and there is a paper linked on the toothbrushing step if you want to read more).

  • FROM JILL: I'd use a TEPE brush (you may need to tray different sizes, perhaps a yellow to start) - find something that fits in the spaces, but that is not too small to be effective.

  • FROM JILL: An electric toothbrush with a soft head and on reduced power (if possible) and TEPE brushes.

  • @RebeccaAkinrinade Definitely yes. Things like this course, reading up on the subject (e.g. blogs, dental journals, trade news) and looking at stuff on Youtube will all show engagement with the subject. Dental Schools will be very aware how difficult getting work experience will be in this admissions cycles, so will look for how you have shown initiative and...

  • @Hannah. If there is any specific I can help with Hannah, please let me know and I'll do my best to help

  • Thanks for your kind words Olga. Very glad to hear you enjoyed it.

  • You are not alone! Imagining you are sat on the patient's lap can help.

  • Hi John - the main regulator of the quality of care is the CQC who regularly visit dental practices:

  • It is indeed a tricky debate in dentistry (or public health), and one we'll come back to in Week 5.

  • We'll come back to this later in the course, but (spoiler alert!) 3D printing is being very disruptive to dental prosthesis manufacture in particular. The Dental School at Sheffield now has many 3D printers (all printing face visors for local hospitals at the moment) and also 3D simulators for training. We print many of the models for teaching students,...

  • I have to agree - the digital revolution is massive at the moment. I admit when I talk to our junior students I now have to say 'but when you graduate this will probably all be digital' more and more (especially with impressions, models, production of crowns etc)

  • Hi Anna - yes, well worth reading up on her career. An amazing woman with so many 'firsts' to her name in dentistry.

  • Hello! - I'll be following along with this run of the course over the next weeks, and will try and help out where I can. I see lots of dental professionals have joined, and I really hope that you can help others with their questions as we work through this together.

  • Hi - It's definitely a reason that people go into the job. You need to be able to visualise and then form complex three-dimensional shapes, and then sometimes also being able to factor in possible shrinkage on firing etc, so the job does attract a person that enjoys the blend of both the artistic and scientific/healthcare.

  • Hi Noor - He is charting from the upper left using Palmer notation so "Eight, absent. Seven, six, sound." (from the transcript) means:
    Upper left 8 (third molar) is missing, the upper left 7 (second molar) and 6 (first molar) are present and 'sound' means 'in good condition'.

  • Hi Manahil - Brilliant to hear you are taking this course as you are interested in a dental career. Not knowing much about your situation, I think the best advice is to spend some time observing dental care professionals to ensure you have a good understanding of the profession. Of course this should include dental hygienists, but any of the roles (including...

  • Welcome to the course. I'll be dipping in to the comments throughout this run if there are any specific questions - on the content of the course, about applying to study dentistry or anything else. Happy New Year!

  • Brilliant! Many thanks for taking part.

  • Thanks Imaan. I'll pass it on to the team.

  • Thanks Shyamal! I'll pass it on.

  • Thanks Samuel - best of luck with pursuing a dental career.

  • Great to hear Libby. Best of luck with the EPQ!

  • This process is now becoming mainstream with SLA printing (have a look into FormLabs printers for an example of the type). The dentures and teeth are 3D printed from liquid resin, then joined together and polished ready for the mouth by a dental technician. Have a look at:

  • Hi Frances - you can turn the captions off by pressing the button bottom left next to '1x'. Hope this helps.

  • Indeed it is. Dental technology is moving to the point where digital design (and manufacturing) skills are now becoming a core skill set for dental technicians. It is still important for someone to design, monitor the process, and finish the restorations, but a lot of the work can now be done digitally. We are transitioning from a point where CADCAM...

  • Thanks Ethel - it is nice you hear when people have enjoyed it!

  • Many thanks Jean!

  • Thanks Ananya. It is indeed a foundation - this is an adaptation from some first year teaching!

  • Christopher Stokes replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    Many thanks for this Mary. I'll pass on your thanks to the team!

  • Welcome to the course everyone! I'll be dipping into the comments throughout this run in case there is anything else I can help with - and popping in with Jill (the hygienist) on 22nd October to answer specific questions around tooth brushing.

  • Hi Moneebah - We have some Public Health content a little later in the course, so through any specific questions my way.

  • Hi everyone - Sorry I'm a bit late, but I hope to be able to dip into the comments though out this run and help out.

  • Welcome to the course everyone - I'll be here following along and answering any questions that arise. I look forward to learning with you all!

  • Thanks Carol!

  • Thank you Yahyaa - best of luck for the future

  • Thanks for this!

  • Hi Penny - Yes. You are up to date with the developments! Coming up a bit later in the course we look at the new technology.

  • Welcome @MeltemAkcam - you experience as a dentist will be of benefit to others here I am sure

  • Welcome on board @mariadelosangeleszilitecelis - it will be great to have your perspective to add to the discussions

  • Thanks for the replies @MichaelTowsey @AliceT - always good to get different perspectives and experiences.

  • Welcome to the course everyone - I'll be here following along and answering any questions that arise. I look forward to learning with you all!

  • Hi Douglas - the amalgam is always silver (but looks darker in the mouth due to a lack of reflecting light), and the white tooth-coloured fillings are a different, plastic-based, material. More on this later in the course.

  • Hi Kay - it is a tricky (but satisfying) job. The broken parts of the denture are reassembled and held together with wax, then placed onto Plaster of Paris to make a mould. The broken edges of the denture are then trimmed back a little to allow room for the repair material. The repair is then made using a liquid acrylic resin that sets hard, is trimmed to...

  • Welcome to the course everyone - I'll be here following along and answering any questions that arise. I look forward to learning with you all!

  • Hi John - Thanks for the questions.
    Additive Manufacturing refers to the process of building up an object from a feedstock (a filament, powder or liquid) - and usually gets thrown around interchangeably with 3D printing. Subtractive manufacturing is the opposite, grinding and milling a block (or blank) down to the required shape.
    The Advanced Manufacturing...

  • Jill has been a little delayed - but will be back to answer your questions so please continue to leave any you have

  • That would be great - I'm working on dental 'puzzles' using 3D printing and in my teaching I play a variation of the old Mastermind coloured peg guessing game with teeth as a way of getting students to really study the detail and commit it to memory. Regarding the chewing, there was a good animation doing the rounds a few months back:...

  • Talking to Dr Zijlstra-Shaw (who you see in the Dental History video) and who is a qualified dental sedationist, there could be a number of reasons including the personal choice of the dentist, the cost of the additional training required at the practice, or a change in guidelines or the service is no longer commissioned by the local NHS.

  • Yes they do (although it is as you would imagine really quite specialist). I'm aware of dentists who work with dogs (mostly for competing in competitions like Crufts, providing treatment and orthodontics), and also for horses.

  • Welcome to the course Kathy!

  • Hello everyone. I'll be here following the course over the next 6 weeks. If you have any specific questions I'll try and help if I can.

  • Thanks for the feedback Alvin, and the best of luck to you in pursuing a dental career!

  • Welcome to the course Sandra!

  • @PariaF @MaryGilstad Hi - Mercury is used to alloy silver, tin and copper (in a roughly 40/30/30 ratio), and during the setting (condensing) process the mercury is 'used up' by the tin and silver. The material has proven popular as it is cost effective, easy to carve into shape, is strong and (reasonably) resistant to chemical attack. Only relatively recently...

  • Hi Mary - Great to hear that you have been able to get stuck in with learning the terminology and some of the morphology. The vampire look is typically canines that are much longer and thinner. I remember talking to a dental technician who was asked to make some for a patient, and although the shape of the tooth is not so tricky to make by crowning or...

  • Thanks for this Sarah - I'll have to track this one down.

  • Thanks Andrea! See you next week.

  • Thanks Alex - that's one I've not seen so I will seek out. Always good to see a more positive or balanced portrayal.

  • Hi Tahira - I hope can we help as we have some interviews with different specialists coming up in the course

  • Thanks Rosalind!

  • Many thanks Grace!

  • Hi Liz - listening back to this - it is "incisal wear" indicating damage on the tooth from abrasion of the opposing teeth.

  • Hi Liz - Look at the palatal (inside) of the upper 6 - it looks like an extra little cusp.

  • I've not heard of this system - I'll have to research it as it sounds interesting. Thanks!

  • Welcome to the course Rosalind - I hope we can show you the role from the dentist's perspective and give you a little insight into how they approach treating patients.

  • Hi Emma - Welcome to the course!

  • Hi Marwa - Welcome to the course. It is for anyone: aspiring dentists, interested patients, dental professionals. It is a way of us all having a conversation about the subject from a diversity of views and experiences.

  • There is indeed - don't worry about memorising it all, but just get a feel for the language and you can always refer back here or to the glossary as we go on.

  • Welcome Sim!

  • Hi Andy - Welcome to the course, and I hope we can help.

  • Hi Tarek - this is something we are interested in too. There is work at Sheffield investigating bioprinting for the repair of cleft palate.

  • Thanks Dona - good luck with the dental career!

  • Many thanks for the kind words Susan. Glad we were able to make it interesting to follow.

  • Hi Umara - this course will certainly help with your overall knowledge. Most important for an application is to get some work experience (it is used as a yes/no for interview by many dental schools), ideally in a range of types of dental practice. If you can't get a foot in the door, try a dental laboratory - you'll learn a lot and might be able to build up...

  • In this system a 1 is always the central incisor, and we refer to the patient's sides (so an upper left 1, would be the patient's upper left side central incisor).

  • Hi- labial is used for the anterior (1-3) teeth, with buccal (cheek side) being used for posterior teeth (4-8). Palatal for the uppers, and lingual for the lowers is used for all teeth.

  • That's great - enjoy the work experience!

  • Hi - 'tubules' - I'll get the subtitles fixed. Thanks!

  • Thanks Cynthia - less technical next week (but no less interesting!)

  • Fantastic!

  • Hi Susan - yes exactly. Nothing is 'pre-made' except little bits for implant work and special attachments for really complicated restorations.

  • Hi Cynthia - for *way* more detail we have a sequence of videos on YouTube:

  • Christopher Stokes replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    Hi @MS - Yes, dental technology steals from all over! Lost wax casting is slowly being replaced with 3D printing, but for a long time it has used the same equipment as jewellers too.

  • Hi Susan - Yes. It is now possible to digitally design and 'print' a denture. We have just got a 3D printer that can do this at Sheffield and are exploring the possibilities.

  • Hi Cynthia - You can turn off the subtitles if needed using the button next to the '1x' in the video controls. I also have an older video that shows some of the process here:

  • Hi David - I checked! Yes - it is using the medical definition of insult that is an "event which causes damage to a tissue or organ." (OED) I might look at changing this for future course runs...

  • Thanks! Didn't know this and this is why this course is so much fun.

  • Christopher Stokes replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    Good point - while dental fabrication is swiftly moving to CAD-CAM milled materials (ceramics and metals), spark-erosion (titatium) and also 3D printing for polymers, the 'gold standard' of casting in the dental lab (and my old boss's favourite machine) was a pressure, vacuum and gravity casting machine. It was excellent for the casting of the thin edges of...

  • Many thanks for your kind words and feedback! I personally really like the subject of dentistry for the reasons you mention - the mix of disciplines means there is always something new.

  • Christopher Stokes replied to [Learner left FutureLearn]

    @MS Great thread this - regarding early years intervention on toothbrushing, the Childsmile programme in Scotland was seen as being a success and a model for wider adoption:

  • Thanks for this Cynthia - we are always keen to learn the variations in how the responsibilities are distributed in different countries.

  • Thanks Cythia - see you next week

  • Welcome!