Two years ago, before COVID-19 upended in-person learning, a team of five Harvard School of Dental Medicine (HSDM) D.M.D. students had the idea of creating “My Dental Key”— an online platform with step-by-step video tutorials of dental procedures to supplement clinical and classroom learning. After launching the platform with 30 instructional videos in November 2020, My Dental Key has quickly amassed more than 3,000 users and 350 active subscribers from around the globe, and is gaining the attention of a growing number of dental students and educators.
“Online teaching is here to stay,” said fourth-year dental student Karen He, My Dental Key’s chief financial officer. “In light of COVID, schools have realized how important it is to have robust online resources to introduce dental students to clinical dentistry.”
Traditional dental education takes place in the classroom, preclinical lab, and clinic; however, the team found that over 80 percent of the 700 U.S. dental students they surveyed used YouTube to review dental preparations and procedures. They identified an opportunity to create instructional videos from a student perspective with content verified by dental educators to ensure accuracy.
“We saw a need for our generation to have access to modern videos and technology, while learning and developing their clinical skills in dental school,” said Leela Breitman, My Dental Key CEO.
After long days in dental school, the team spent nights sketching illustrations of procedures and dabbling with video recordings to hone their production skills. Two of the management team members, Leela Breitman, D.M.D. ’21, and Alice Li, D.M.D. ’23, have backgrounds in art and medical illustration. The other founders, Jennifer Lee, D.M.D. ’21, Karen He, D.M.D. ’21, and Emily Van Doren, D.M.D. ’22, have experience in education, investment banking, fundraising, research, and web design.
The team built a prototype of the My Dental Key platform with funding and support from the Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching (HILT) and the American Dental Education Association (ADEA). More recently, the team received additional grant funding from the Harvard Undergraduate Capital Partners Innovation Fund, a HILT Launch Pad Operation Impact 2020 Grand Prize, the Dr. Edward B. Shils Entrepreneurial Fund, and a Harvard Innovation Labs Spark Grant.