Office for Technology Commercialization

Three Dimensional Dental Anatomy Software Program for Dentistry Students

Technology #z04203

Questions about this technology? Ask a Technology Manager

Download Printable PDF

License this Technology
Tooth Explorer
Image Gallery
Interactive Three Dimensional Tooth ModelDental Student Using Tooth Explorer Dental SoftwareDr. Delong Co-Inventor of Tooth Explorer Dental Software
Maria Pintado, Associate Professor, School of Dentistry
Dr. Pintado is an associate professor in the Division of Biomaterials in the University of Minnesota's Department of Restorative Sciences. She completed her Bachelor's degree in Dental Auxillary Education in 1972 and her Master's of Public Health in 1986. Pintado received both degrees from the University of Minnesota. She is currently researching the pathogenesis of abfractions and toothbrush biomechanics. Pintado initiated the Tooth Explorer project in response to the Oral Anatomy students' frustration trying to visual three-dimensional teeth while working with two-dimensional drawings.
External Link (
Ralph DeLong, Professor, School of Dentistry
Dr. DeLong is a Professor in the Department of Restorative Sciences, Interim Chair of the Department of Restorative Sciences, and the Director of the Minnesota Dental Research Center for Biomaterials and Biomechanics (MDRCBB). Dr. Delong received his bachelor's degree in physics and mathematics from the University of Nebraska. He received a PhD in nuclear physics, Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS), and Master's degree from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Delong is board qualified with the American College of Prosthodontists. Dr. Ralph Delong is the lead inventor of the Virtual Dental Patient, a software program with patient specific, three-dimensional representation of articulated upper and lower jaws.
External Link (
William H. Douglas, Professor Emeritus, School of Dentistry
Dr. Douglas is the chairman of the Division of Biomaterials within the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. In 2006, Dr. Douglas was selected as the 2006 recipient of the Academy of Operative Dentistry's "Hollenback Memorial Prize." This is one of the highest awards offered by the Academy and is given in recognition of substantial contributions to the advancement of restorative dentistry.
Matt Heinzen
Mr. Heinzen completed his bachelor's degree in computer science from the University of Minnesota in 2000. Heinzen was the senior developer for the research-based software. He developed the algorithms, interface, and applications to acquire and process the three dimensional dental model images.
Managed By
Andrew Morrow
Technology Licensing Officer
Patent Protection

Copyright © 2006-2008 Regents of the University of Minnesota, All Rights Reserved

US Patent Pending

Teaching Oral Anatomy using Digital Interactive Dental Models

Tooth ExplorerTM is a three dimensional dental software program designed to teach oral anatomy in a highly efficient digital environment. This program provides dentistry students with an interactive, three-dimensional dental library of 32 individual adult teeth. Students are able to engage in self-paced learning by rotating and identifying significant features of individual, anatomically correct teeth. The 3D dental software program was created in response to student's frustrations visualizing three-dimensional teeth when working from two dimensional drawings. Tooth Explorer can also be used during dentistry lectures and demonstrations, providing all students with the opportunity to see and work firsthand with anatomical landmarks. Dentistry students can use the program outside of the laboratory setting to focus on individualized areas of weakness and improve their performance. This 3D dental software delivers a highly efficient teaching environment with motivational features that make the discipline fun to learn and engaging for students.

Oral Anatomy Software

Tooth Explorer is designed to provide students with their own 3D library of dentistry models. Standard multiple-choice evaluations are provided for the anterior teeth, molars, and premolars. Dentistry students can also identify different areas of dental anatomy by viewing specific tooth images. This interactive software eliminates the need for using extracted or synthetic teeth to teach dental anatomy, tooth position, and variations. Tooth Explorer also removes the dependence on many laboratory materials and saves time for both instructors and students. Instructors can add teaching plug-ins to the program. This feature would test the students? understanding of basic dental anatomy. A future version of the Tooth Explorer software will provide the addition of online functions. These features increase the program's efficiency by enabling students to share their assessment results, performance, and receive feedback from instructors. Other future software enhancements include: creating a second library of common variation on dental anatomy, highlighting features for each tooth surface, external anatomy of each tooth using MRI data, and extending the program content so it is applicable to graduate programs.


  • Self-Paced Learning - Students are able to pace themselves and center their focus on areas of weakness.
  • Engaging - Revolutionizes the traditional teaching method of oral anatomy by providing students with a hands-on interactive dental software program.
  • Affordable - Less expensive than synthetic tooth models and tooth extracts.
  • Robust - First teaching tool that offers digital three dimensional dental models, other teaching tools rely on two dimensional drawings.
  • Advancing - Future version of Tooth Explorer software includes online functions.