Objectives: This study investigated the perception that dental students have regarding the relevance of oral biology (OB) to dental education and dentistry in general. Moreover, this study analysed students’ attitude towards OB learning approaches and resources.
Methods: A questionnaire based on a Likert scale was used to survey pre-clinical/second (BDS2)- and final/fifth (BDS5)-year dental students at the School of Dentistry of the University of Birmingham (United Kingdom). In comparison, a small group of postgraduate specialist registrars were surveyed to evaluate the attitudes of practising dentists.
Results: The results show that all study groups expressed a high level of perceived relevance of OB to dentistry. Students’ perception of OB for dental education, clinical training and practice also scored high. More than 40% of undergraduate students and about 55% of the postgraduates indicated a perceived change in their attitude towards OB with time characterised by increased appreciation of the subject. Lectures were considered as the most important teaching approach, whereas ‘group poster projects’ ranked lowest. Of the different study resources, lecture handouts received the overall highest importance score.
Conclusions: The results indicate that dental students considered OB relevant for dental education and dentistry and suggest a positive attitude towards the subject. This study also suggested that dental students prefer teacher-centred/led teaching rather than student-directed learning of OB. The article addresses the role of OB and science-related research projects within the dental curriculum and discusses that close integration of basic sciences with dental education may enrich dental education and overall learning experience.