Expanding Perspectives in Dental Education: with Dr. Shibani Sahni of Tufts University 

Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston, Massachusetts, is one of the premier dental schools in the United States. As the institution expands its presence through the Tufts Dental School Continuing Education, Nobel Biocare is supporting one of their upcoming courses at the Dental Experience Center in Zurich, Switzerland. 

The course, Biologically driven surgical and prosthetic protocols, brings science and daily practice together, being led by Drs. Giacomo Fabbri and Tristan Staas, authors of multiple clinical studies published in peer-reviewed journals. 

To find out more about dental education at Tufts University, we spoke with Dr. Shibani Sahni, Director of Continuing Education, Lifelong Learning and Distance Education.

Director of Continuing Education, Lifelong Learning and Distance Education

Dr. Sahni, can you tell us a little about your own professional background through dentistry?

My journey began in Adelaide, Australia, where I pursued my studies and did a postgraduate diploma in restorative dentistry, before going into private practice for about sixteen years. I also have had teaching experience at Sydney University in Australia. 

When an opportunity arose at Harvard to complete a master’s degree in dental education, it was the perfect transition for me into the academic world. During a project at Harvard, I began collaborating with Tufts University, and it came about that I and the leadership at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine had a very similar vision regarding the needs and opportunities in professional dental education. 

I combined my entrepreneurial skills and academic skills to take on this invigorating role of being the director of Lifelong Learning and distance education department.

Tells us about your current role at Tufts and how it aligns with the institution's broader goals? 

As the director of lifelong learning and distance education at Tufts, my primary responsibility is to develop and implement innovative educational programs that cater to the evolving needs of dental professionals globally. This involves curating, doing curriculum design, market analysis, needs assessments and delivering courses that integrate the latest advancements in dentistry while ensuring accessibility and flexibility for learners. Moreover, I collaborate closely with faculty members, industry partners, and regulatory bodies to uphold Tufts' commitment to excellence in dental education.

What distinguishes Tufts in the realm of dental education?

At Tufts, we pride ourselves on our holistic approach to dental education, which combines rigorous academic training with hands-on clinical experience. Our faculty members, who hail from diverse cultural and professional backgrounds, bring a wealth of expertise to the table, enriching the learning experience for our students and participants. Additionally, our emphasis on evidence-based practice ensures that learners are equipped with the latest research findings and best practices in dentistry. Also, our strategic partnerships with a variety of industry leaders enable our courses to stay at the forefront of technological innovation, meaning our students can learn the latest treatment techniques.

Dr. Sahni at last years' Tufts University Symposium on Dental Implants, which included hands-on sessions by Dr. Tristan Staas (left) and Dr. Giacomo Fabbri (right).

Tell us more about the upcoming course at Nobel Biocare Dental Experience Center.

It’s a two-day masterclass with lectures, hands-on sessions, and live-broadcast surgery on biologically driven concepts, and how you can apply scientific advancements into your daily practice. 
Just a few topics include emergence profile, biological width, implant, and abutment surface, ‘one abutment, one time’, treatment planning and more. This covers a range of clinical situations including single, multiple unit and full arch restoration, and anterior vs. posterior, as well as immediate vs. delayed loading.

From a practical aspect, digital technology is at the forefront of innovation across dentistry, and this is incorporated throughout the course, including interactive demos in intraoral scanning, dynamic navigated surgery, software for imaging and treatment planning, and 3D printing

Live surgery will be broadcast from Dr. Tristan Staas' clinic demonstrating the Nobel Biocare N1 procedure.

Can you elaborate on how the support from Nobel Biocare helps your courses?

Certainly, Nobel Biocare has supported us for many years, and it is based on our shared commitment to excellence and innovation in dentistry. We only teach evidence-based treatment techniques and solutions, and Nobel Biocare has some of the most clinically documented implants and prosthetics in this field. It gives us confidence in the reliability and efficacy of new advancements they make. We scrutinize solutions that are to be used in our courses, and there is expertise in Nobel Biocare that explain all that we need to know.  

Are there any more upcoming initiatives or projects at Tufts that you're particularly excited about?

Absolutely. We have several exciting projects in the pipeline, particularly in developing opportunities to collaborate with international partners to offer our courses in new geographical regions, thereby expanding access to quality dental education beyond traditional boundaries. 

Participants will receive hands-on demonstrations of digital workflow in the Dental Experience Center(right).