Loupes enhance dental students' performance

Dental loupes can significantly enhance student performance during preclinical dental education, according to a study in the upcoming issue of Quintessence International (January 2011, Vol. 42:1, pp. 45-55).

Noting that there is little scientific evidence to validate the use of optical magnifying devices such as loupes, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine wanted to assess the effect of dental loupes on psychomotor skills during a preclinical operative dentistry course.

They assessed the performance of 232 first-year dental students during an advanced simulation course. The test group consisted of 116 dental students using magnification loupes (+MAG), while students not using them (-MAG, n = 116) served as the control.

The researchers evaluated four parameters:

  • Number of successfully passing preparation procedures per course rotation
  • Amount of time per tooth preparation
  • Number of times students needed computer assistance and evaluation
  • Amount of time spent in the computer assistance and evaluation mode per procedure

Data were collected on each student through virtual reality-based training during the preparation procedure and stored on a closed network server computer. Unpaired t-tests were used to analyze mean differences between the groups.

The researchers found that +MAG students completed more preparations, worked faster per procedure, and used the computer-assisted evaluation less frequently and for shorter periods.

"Dental magnification loupes significantly enhanced student performance during preclinical dental education and were considered an effective adjunct by the students who used them," they concluded.

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