Dental Tribune International

New mirror trainer may improve dentists’ motor skills, study suggests

By Dental Tribune International
October 15, 2019

Somerville, Mass., U.S.: The process of learning how to move correctly when using a mirror in a patient’s mouth can often be difficult. Though drawing on a piece of paper while looking at it via a mirror is an often recommended exercise, the benefits of this exercise do not always translate to real dental procedures. A study of a new mirror training device has shown promising results that could affect the way dental students learn indirect motor skills.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, focused on the effectiveness of the Jumpstart Mirror Trainer for teaching these skills in comparison with the Mirroprep apparatus. Forty-seven first-year dental students were randomly sorted into three groups, each of which used Jumpstart, Mirroprep or a control device for 15 minutes daily for ten days.

To assess the improvement of the participants’ indirect motor skills, each conducted a maxillary cavity preparation both before and after using their assigned device. A survey was then undertaken to measure the participants’ comfort level with the mirror devices and the perceived usefulness of the devices.

The Jumpstart Mirror Trainer was found to improve students’ indirect motor skills significantly more than Mirroprep and the control device did. In addition, participants who used Jumpstart rated the device as being significantly more helpful than the other devices.

“Most dental schools do not incorporate mirror training sessions into their curriculum and expect students to pick up these skills on their own,” said Dr. Alexander McClure, a postgraduate endodontic resident at Tufts University and lead author of the study. “This can lead to the development of bad habits, such as leaning forward to use direct vision.”

“Ideally, students should develop good ergonomics and mirror skills before starting preclinical placement. This way, trying to learn both mirror skills and dental procedures at the same time does not overwhelm them. However, mirror skills need to be developed by performing activities that mimic real dental procedures,” McClure continued.

“The findings of our study show that using the Jumpstart Mirror Trainer for as little as ten days can significantly improve students’ ability to use a mirror during dental procedures. An ideal future study would show the effects of incorporating this device into a dental school’s curriculum,” he concluded.

The study, titled “Jumpstart Mirror Trainer: A new device for teaching mirror skills to first-year dental students,” was published in the Oct. 2019 issue of the Journal of Dental Education.

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