Despite the increasing demand for implant-based treatments, removable partial dentures (RPDs) are frequently used in the oral rehabilitation of partially dentate patients. Furthermore, the Bologna Declaration Agreement (1999) promotes the freedom of movement both of students among dental schools and of graduates across the European Union (EU). Given that inconsistency in teaching among dental schools may lead to confusion, this study aimed to evaluate the status of teaching and clinical experience reached by undergraduate dental students in Spanish dental schools in relation to RPDs.
A questionnaire seeking information on the preclinical and clinical teaching of RPDs was emailed to all Spanish dental schools (11 public, 4 private) with complete undergraduate degree dental programmes in November 2009. Descriptive statistical data analysis was performed.
A 100% response rate was obtained. The average duration of the preclinical course in Spain was 44 hours (38 hours in the public schools and 60.5 hours in the private schools). However, public schools reported a greater number of RPDs made per student prior to graduation, with an average of 3.4 acrylic (range: 1-20) and 3.4 cobaltchromium (range: 1-20) RPDs. The corresponding means for private schools were 1 acrylic (range: 0-2) and 2.3 cobalt-chromium (range: 1-4). One public school (9%) stated that they were teaching RPDs using Problem-Based- Learning.
Similar to that noted in previously surveyed countries, variations in teaching programmes and clinical experience concerning RPDs achieved by Spanish dental students were evident. While diversity of teaching is often considered to be of benefit, dental students must be adequately trained to ensure that they meet the needs of the patients they will serve during their careers.