AMITIAE - Tuesday 4 February 2014

Dental Navi and Dental Navigator: Similar Demonstration Apps for iPhone and iPad

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By Graham K. Rogers

Dental Navigator

My first memory of the dentist is of being dragged screaming to a local clinic in north London. Things did not improve and I have clear recollection of being scared of dental treatment in my early teens. In recent years, the treatment from dentists in Thailand has improved my outlook; and my teeth. My current dentist takes the time to explain things using x-ray images on a screen above the chair, and by using diagrams that he draws. There is an app for this. Actually, two.

With the the ways in which Apple products used for healthcare expected to increase in the near future, I am examining some of the current health-related apps that are available. I just looked at VueMe, an app for display of medical images. A colleague whose PhD was concerned with such image technology, was quite impressed with this. One of the apps that others had downloaded was Dental Navigator for the iPad, which I found had a sister app for the iPhone: DentalNavi. These were developed by Dr Jean Bausch KG. There is a useful video (1 min 48 sec) on the web page which gives a basic idea of how the app works.

This app is a 3D dental simulator originally developed for the iPad, but now also available for the iPhone as well and called DentalNavi. The two apps are similar but have different purposes. They operate differently and do not have the same in-app purchases available.

Dental Navi

iPhone - Dental Navi

After a screen that displays the app name, a user is presented with a list. At the top is a link to the iPad app, access to 3D videos of the head and jaw (3D Head, Chewing Animation, Chewing - Lingual, and Chewing - Distal). The first is displayed in portrait mode; the others in landscape.

Dental Navi

Below the videos in the list is a link to 5 dental products from Bausch. Each of these also has a short video of the product. The 3D Head video is also available in this section.

There are also links to 5 in-app purchases: Implantology, Occlusion, Crown and Bridge, Endodontics and Fillings and Inlays/Overlays. Each of these is priced at $4.99 and provides a video of the process or technology.

Dental Navi Dental Navi Dental Navi

iPad - Dental Navigator

While the opening screen of Dental Navigator (note the slightly different name) appears the same as for the iPhone app, the way that this app behaves on the iPad shows that the intent is completely different. This is clear when examining the list of in-app purchases and on opening the 3D Head link, which is not a video but an interactive display.

As well as the link to the 3D head, the list links to the dental products from Bausch that are shown in the iPhone version, as well as 6 in-app purchases: videos and interactive displays. These are Implantology (video, $19.99), Jaw Movement (interactive, $9.99), Occlusion (videos, $19.99), Crown and Bridge ($19.99), Endodontics ($19.99) and Fillings and Inlays/Overlays ($19.99).

The 3D head, accessed from that first page list, allows movement using the fingers (scrolling and pinch) and may be displayed either with or without the muscles. That is controlled by a Head icon in the bottom tool bar. Alongside this (and dominating the bar) is a button marked "Application". This reveals the three videos showing chewing that are also in the iPhone app.

To the far left of the bottom toolbar is a circular arrow, to return the head to its start position. To the right of this is a video button that animates the jaw movement: the head is then rotated with gestures. A useful button at the top right, has a camera icon and allows the user to take a screen shot.

Dental Navi


As it stands, with no in-app purchases made, Dental Navigator has a moderately useful function as a basic display of the jaw movements. It is clear that any of the in-app purchases, each with their own specialist appeal, will be valuable to those in dentistry who may need to use one (or more) as part of a direct demonstration of a process. The obvious point here is to show a process to a patient.

I did not download any of the in-app purchase packages which limits my full assessment of this app, but recognise that each of the modules is of a specialist nature. As dentistry itself is expensive, the prices may be justified. The higher prices for the iPad purchases (and the limited number offered on the iPhone) suggest that this is the preferred medium for demonstration, particularly in a surgery.

However, there is also a clear teaching aspect here and as iOS devices are easy to connect to overhead displays, or to HDTVs, a larger classroom situation may also be envisaged by the developer. I often connect my devices (and the Mac) to the overhead projectors in classrooms for demonstration purposes as there is a more direct communication between what is being demonstrated and the student receiving the information.

This is one of a number of apps for medical personnel, indicating that portable devices are more likely to be used by professionals, especially as these days, the clients will also be familiar with them: a barrier is broken down. We can expect to see more use of the iPad and iPhone in medicine.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand where he is also Assistant Dean. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs.



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