Rana Wali


Head and Neck anatomy (HNA) is an intense module taught and examined in the early years of dental school. It is the expectation that a safe beginner will have the relevant knowledge and understanding of oro-facial anatomy. The aims of this study were:

  • to identify the perceived confidence that UK dental graduates in OMFS roles have in their knowledge of HNA
  • to explore the main methods of teaching HNA at undergraduate level, and
  • to compare these methods against student preferences.

A questionnaire was developed for dental trainees on OMFS jobs across the UK. Participants were from all UK undergraduate dental schools; there was no bias for age or gender. Those with previous experience of HNA were excluded from the analysis. The questionnaire explored:

  • demographic details - methods of HNA teaching experienced at university,
  • preferred methods of learning HNA A Likert scale was included to evaluate the participants’ perceived confidence in their own knowledge of HNA.

The data were analysed using non-parametric tests.


52 dental graduates on OMFS posts were involved in the study.

  • Perceived level of confidence: Only 22% felt that their knowledge of HNA was adequate for competence in their OMFS roles.
  • Undergraduate teaching methods: The main teaching method across 11 UK dental schools was lectures (73%). Dissection of cadavers was used as an adjunctive method in 54% of the universities.
  • Preferred teaching methods: Cadaveric dissection was the most popular method (68%), followed by multimedia (55%) and tutorials (48%). PBL and lectures were the least popular methods.

Many newly qualified dentists consider their knowledge of anatomy to be inadequate for their OMFS jobs. The outcomes of this study may help in guiding dental schools to deliver HNA via more preferred methods. Additionally, further HNA training should be provided for new graduates during their OMFS roles.


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