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Improving hand skills before dental school?

Discussion in 'Dental' started by belle316, Feb 24, 2009.

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  1. belle316

    belle316

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    Hello All,

    I have a quick question. I am finishing my Masters in Biology this year and plan to apply to dental school next year, with the hopes of attending in 2011. I'm going to have some free time, so I thought this period before dental school would be great for improving my hand skills before entering dental school. I was looking at taking at least these 3 classes:

    - Wax Working and Casting
    - Introduction to Metalsmithing
    -Introduction to enameling

    Does anyone think taking these classes would even remotely be helpful for improving my hand skills for dental schooll? I know you get a lot of work for improving your hand skills while in dental school, but I wanted to get a head start. Thanks.
  2. Lopyswine

    Lopyswine

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    anything that improves your dexterity will help, the question is how much will it help?

    To be honest, the dimensions of the preparations you'll be making in dental school are so small that metal smithing probably wont help. You have realize that you'll be working within .5mm. Macro hand skills won't be that helpful.

    If you are determined to get hand skills go to all the dental labs in your area and beg them to teach/hire you. You could also become a dental assistant. Depending on the state, you may be able to perform some procedures as an assistant. I begged and begged at a few labs and finally they let me come in and hang out. I didn't do much, but it was nice to have some exposure to the materials and their properties before school started.

    With all that being said, I find myself really struggling with my hand skills. I am right in the middle of the pack on the learning curve to not blowing out my preps.
  3. belle316

    belle316

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    Well this would be for a Continuing Education certificate in jewelry. So while I wouldn't be working with the very small dimensions that are involved with teeth, I'm sure some micro hands skills would be needed.
  4. dentstd

    dentstd Fena Gonzales

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    Learn to write with only 2 fingers touching the table. Hands and elbows off entirely. Tape half a roll of quarters on to the eraser. If you can draw small structures, you'll be fine.

    Draw short, straight lines back and forth. Draw smooth, curve lines back and forth. Make sure the drawing doesn't get larger than the diameter of the pencil lead. Move slowly. Move quickly. This is dentistry.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2009
  5. Doh Boy Fresh

    Doh Boy Fresh

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    this sounds liek really good advice!! I'm going to try it:thumbup:
  6. dentstd

    dentstd Fena Gonzales

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    Few more things, for those who know nothing about dentistry yet. Those 3 fingers that grip the pen...those fingers don't ever move. You move the handpiece by pushing/pulling forward/backward/left/right against those fingers touching the surface of the teeth (table, for now). Angle the pencil at 45 degrees, 20 degrees, etc. Find a technique where everything's perfectly stable. If you want a REAL challenge, draw using a hand mirror. Use a tall cup to block your direct line of sight. See if you can move the pencil in the right direction every time. :laugh:
  7. Thaxil

    Thaxil Senior Member

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    You may just be wasting your time to prep before dental school. It will be 2 years before you even lay eyes on a patient, and then it will take another couple of years before you can use indirect vision.
  8. dentstd

    dentstd Fena Gonzales

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    Oh come now. Were you never that kid who slept with a baseball mitt or a football at night? There's nothing wrong with being excited about what you love.
  9. Thaxil

    Thaxil Senior Member

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    nothing wrong with that. :thumbup:
  10. Ateeb T Khan

    Ateeb T Khan Pre Dental

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    I've been thinking about going to Dental Lab's in my area... but dont know what to say ... can someone plz suggest how I should approach them and let them know of my goals..

    THanks
  11. lhtran07

    lhtran07

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    Go to one of the dentists you shadowed and see if they'll recommend you to the lab they use. The guy I shadowed introduced me to the lab he uses and was going to set up a gig with them so that I can shadow there and pick up a few skills as well but I had too much on my plate at the time.
  12. 206127

    206127

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    I work in my mom's dental office and whenever it's slow she has me working on typodont teeth. She's teaching me how to prep the teeth for amalgam/composite restorations or for a crown or bridge. She also gave me a dental anatomy book and has me wax-up teeth after we prep them. Although I don't get to do this stuff that often she seems to think this will be very helpful.
  13. eternalxdemon

    eternalxdemon

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    This sounds challenging and fun... i'm going to try this once classes are done... :)
  14. JamesOSU

    JamesOSU Ohio State 2013

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    Which two fingers are touching the teeth (table)
  15. dentstd

    dentstd Fena Gonzales

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    Some basic grips. The pen grip with the handpiece at various angles. Two fingers rest on the table. One's the thumb grip. Only the thumb rests on something.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2009
  16. dentstd

    dentstd Fena Gonzales

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    Draw these figures where the cuts are made. All edges must be rounded. Where the cuts narrow, it must be 1.0 mm in thickness.

    Draw a line 0.5 mm thick. Then extend that thickness to 0.7 mm, then 1.0mm etc. Dentistry's about having enough control to make these small adjustments.

    [​IMG]
  17. lotexigeus

    lotexigeus Master Member

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    some good stuff in this thread!
  18. belle316

    belle316

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    Wow, thanks a lot man. I have a question about the last picture thought. Is only the thumb touching the paper?
  19. atlanta478

    atlanta478 "Open wide"

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    Start without anyone watching you (they will think you are GOOFY......) and while sitting at your desk in front of your computer, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.

    Now, while doing this, draw the number '6' in the air with your right hand. Your foot will change direction.

    Try it ‘til you can do it. When you can, you are ready for a Dental School. You and I both know how stupid it is, but this is a best training you can get now.
  20. dentstd

    dentstd Fena Gonzales

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    Yes, but it's an easy grip to use, and you won't use it much until you get to the anterior teeth. The third grip's the most important one, while the 1st and 2nd are just variations in order to get more stability (based on which arch you're working on).

    This, of course, is an imperfect simulation of actual drilling. The differences are that you drill depth in teeth and tooth structure provides resistance where the pencil lead would be. But without a handpiece and a typodont, this is the closest simulation to the mechanics involved in the "hand skills" everyone talk about. Crafting, painting, and everything else don't even come close.

    The goal in dentistry is to gain stability while moving quickly/slowly in very small distances. If after a while you still don't have stability, consider varying your grip to have full control of the handpiece. I like to widen my grip so that my fingers cover more surface area on the handpiece. I also grip it closer to the head, so there's less wiggle.

    The single biggest thing you can do before dental school's becoming proficient with the mirror. Hand skills isn't hard. It's about finding a technique where your hand's ultra stable. The mirror skill takes a long time to develop. Get a hand mirror and start tracing pictures in a magazine. You'll be going the wrong direction ALL the time. The goal's to be able to draw things relatively quickly, eventually. You won't perfect this by the time dental school starts, I promise you. But it's fun trying. Good luck to all you future dental wiz.
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2009
  21. aphistis

    aphistis Moderator Emeritus

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    This is all very true. Nice post. :thumbup:
  22. Mamona

    Mamona

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    I love this thread thanks!!! ;)
  23. dentstd

    dentstd Fena Gonzales

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    I'll let you fellas play around with these basic ideas first. After a while, I'll consider explaining to you guys the mechanics of how I use a mirror. I've never seen any textbook explain how to use one, so I had to make sense of it all myself, as do every dental student on earth. Our professors were basically...here's a mirror, put the typodont in the mannequin, cut this shape. Maybe the current dentists and students can input on their techniques.
  24. JamesOSU

    JamesOSU Ohio State 2013

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    Marking thread.
  25. PSU SHC 414

    PSU SHC 414

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    quite possibly one of the most useful threads i've read... this needs to be a sticky in the pre-dent forum!
  26. Lesley

    Lesley Member

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    If you have the time and you can find the opportunity, I would work even part time prior to dental school in a dental lab, doing anything. There you will not only develop skills, but you will gain a great insight and understanding about the skills you will use in pre-clinical. This experience, even for a couple of months, will give you much better clarity about what they were doing, why and the process related directly to dentistry. If you're not worried about earning money, ask if you can stick around a dental lab and just help out and observe. It will be an invaluable experience, and you will have a definite heads up. Good Luck.
  27. DCRedskinsRule

    DCRedskinsRule

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    Great post. Deserves a good bump. :thumbup:
  28. JamesOSU

    JamesOSU Ohio State 2013

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    How bout them mirror skills?
  29. dentstd

    dentstd Fena Gonzales

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  30. dentstd

    dentstd Fena Gonzales

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    I. The first picture illustrates the most basic mirror view. The mirror is directly in front of you, and it’s like looking into a bathroom mirror. Move the bur left, the image goes left. Move it right, the image goes right. But move it forward, the image comes closer towards you. We’re all very familiar with this viewpoint, because we use it every day in the bathroom.

    II. There are numerous angles that we can place the mirror while in the mouth, but for ease of learning, just choose an angle and go with it. Each mirror angulation changes how we think slightly, and it’s hard to learn everything at once. At first, we may choose one most common angulation to learn from. Then, we start to change that angulation. I think I may use 30 degrees most often, but I don’t remember.

    Anyway, when the mirror is angled, all the sudden there’s difficulty moving in the right direction. Moving the bur “forward” has the bur moving at a different angle in the mirror image. Because of that, I reorient my thinking in the angled mirror…

    III. Practice this using a mirror of your own to see this. Reorient your frame of reference such that you’re thinking in terms of the mirror surface plane. When you move it left of the plane, the image goes left of the plane. When you move it right of the plane, the image goes right of the plane. When you move TOWARDS the mirror, the image comes nearer the mirror plane. When you move AWAY FROM the mirror, the image goes farther. Essentially, your new reference is left/right/towards the mirror/away from the mirror.

    This has at least one practical meaning. When you’re looking at the tooth in the mirror and are confused about which direction to move the bur, you can reorient yourself. For a moment, stop looking at the image in the mirror and look at the rims of the mirror or anything else necessary. Find the mirror plane, so you can readjust your thinking to left/right/towards/away.

    IV. When I was first learning how to use the mirror, I drew a figure with multiple arrows coming out, facing all directions. I placed the tip of the bur/pencil at the center of the figure, chose an arrow to push against, then tried to trace that particular arrow (and not another). It’s my means of learning to move the bur in the right general direction.

    V. Then, when I understood the general direction to move the bur, then it’s about moving with precision along the right direction. An error of 3 degrees is still too much for dentistry. I started tracing pictures in a magazine.

    Simplifying life: Learning in the mirror’s hard, but we’ve all had a lifetime’s practice using the mirror while it is at one position: directly ahead of you, as in the bathroom image. No one really has a problem working with things in the bathroom mirror, so the easiest position to place the mouth mirror is directly ahead of you. You’ll eventually need to learn to do things with the mirror angled, but in the process, I use the unangled mirror most often. So…readjust the typodont/patient in such a way that you can place the mirror in the unangled position, and maxillary teeth won’t pose such a problem anymore.
  31. lotexigeus

    lotexigeus Master Member

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    Don't forget ergonomics!

    Feet flat on floor, thighs parallel to floor, arms at side, try to sit up straight...
  32. dr bojangles

    dr bojangles

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    great thread, dentstd:thumbup:
  33. Isradoc1983

    Isradoc1983

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    I was dissecting ovaries from fruit flies under a microscope i wonder if that will help me in dental school :D
    Great thread btw!
  34. melindaL

    melindaL

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    "Tape half a roll of quarters on to the eraser. If you can draw small structures, you'll be fine."
    What does this phrase mean?Any good samaritan willing to help by posting a video or pictures?
  35. melindaL

    melindaL

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    So we should try until our foot does not change direction?
  36. BombayBDS

    BombayBDS

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    wow -the right foot and 6 thing was fun!! doubt it actually helps in dentistry.

    jewelry making is another thing that u guys can try. It helps your hand skills.
  37. newyorkblork

    newyorkblork

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    Wow, necro threads all over these days.

    Anyway, as a D1 who's been through one year of lab, I wouldn't even worry about "hand skills" very much. I don't consider myself a particularly 'handy' person, and I have done fine - I have a solid 85+ in the lab class right now. If you are going for the 100, maybe you could worry about this stuff, but even then, I wouldn't even worry about Hand Skills.

    My pre-dental concerns over Hand Skills have really come to naught. My hands don't ever hold "sniper still", which I was obsessively worried with before school. They do in fact shake a bit. This has not been a problem except when I am trying to slice off a tiny, tiny bit of amalgam without destroying the marginal ridge (I managed to do it just fine), or if I forget the "no coffee before practicals" rule. The stimulation of caffeine + nervousness has led to some very difficult practicals, and even then, I have done okay (80-85).

    However, if you're not satisfied with an 80-85 practical baseline, then what I would recommend is focusing less on Hand Skills and more on Visualization and "Eye Skills". Take an art class, take a sculpture class. The hand skills aren't really that difficult - it isn't, as far as I can tell, "still hands" or whatever handy stuff that earns you the 100, it's the ability to visualize.

    The preparations will involve you drilling (carving) the tooth into a different shape, and the restorations will involve you sculpting a tooth from nothing; you must have a good idea what you are looking for before you begin to cut or fill. In other words, you need to visualize exactly what needs to change before you change it, which is what I have found much more difficult than "hand skills".

    If you can trace thin lines with a thick pen, you should be fine on hand skills. It's imagining the right lines in the first place that's the challenging part; not tracing them.

    EDIT: I should mention that the 100 also depends a lot on your instructor. My friend has sniper hands and good visualization, but continually fails the 100 because of the subjective part of the grading, getting instead 85-93. You will also, once you get here, see some 100's that make you go "whaaaaaaaaaaaat? I'm happy for you, but how did they not see this, this, and this?"

    You'll see. :)
  38. Parklife

    Parklife

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    This thread is amazing and deserves a needed bump.
  39. shinyteethforme

    shinyteethforme

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    Thanks for the ideas!
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2012
  40. emilystaffer

    emilystaffer

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    This thread was a good read. Thank you. If anyone has anymore tips for handskill activities like the ones listed above, keep them coming!
  41. dl063980

    dl063980

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    http://www.midwestern.edu/asda-simulation-course.html

    ^ This is basically continuing education for pre-dental students. This will help you get a good gras[p on dental school topics. Definitely a great investement into your future. You will get to use a handpiece for class I amalgam preps, waxing, composite. Radiograph and implant seminar. Let us know if you have questions [email protected]
  42. b-rad12

    b-rad12

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    What is the purpose of the two fingers touching the paper? On the patient would they be resting on their teeth or cheek or something?

    This is very interesting thanks for sharing!
  43. preOMFS

    preOMFS

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    I dissected mucin molecules from boogers before dental school... just kidding.



    I don't know about all these hand grips and mirror exercises. I'm a fourth year dental student and didn't realize there were different names of grips until just now. I just do what feels most natural and is most efficient.

    Learning to use a mirror is the hardest part of operative. But there's not much you can do besides practicing with a real handpiece and a typodont. Just wait til dental school.

    My advice: go do something that has nothing to do with dentistry for 4 months. Anything you learn/acquire in 4 months "preparing" for dental school is going to become so insignificant at the end of the four years, I don't really see the point and think it would be a huge waste of your time.

    Although those mirror exercises are fun and may have potential to become a drinking game.
    sgv likes this.
  44. xoltarin

    xoltarin

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    How about gaining strength to hold the instruments in those positions. Are grips good or any recommendations on exercise?
  45. sgv

    sgv ...crumbling

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    a noobie thing to do when you first start drilling is to have a death grip. you'll come out with aching forearms and wrists. not to mention that your prep is going to look terrible. so bulking up on muscles isn't necessary. you need to be relaxed. think about it. we're making <1 mm cuts by moving either our fingers, wrist, or forearm by <1mm. you can't do this when you're tensed up. these carbide burs are sharp, hard, and spinning at >4x10^5 rpm. that's enough to cut through metal. the instrument should be doing the cutting. not your muscles.

    unless you have access to a hand piece, manikin, and hand mirror, there's not much that'll help you. i'm far from being gifted yet i'm getting a's in my preclinical lab courses. the only reason why i did well in my operative and waxing courses was because i practiced more than the average dental student. practice and patience to learn a skill. that's all there is to it.

    while most people in your lab are just trying to get by with the minimum necessary to have a faculty check it off, try to make the best prep or restoration you've ever made. even if that means you'll be taking a longer time. but don't fall behind either. learn to critique yourself so you don't have to waste time waiting on a faculty to give you feedback. have a mental checklist.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2014
    hola123 and xoltarin like this.

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