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Developing Dexterity Ep. 1

Hello! How are you doing? I am starting this small blog series about Dexterity. In this article I will cover what it means and why do we need to work on improving it.

Let’s start with defining the word ‘Dexterity’?

Dexterity is the skill in performing tasks. Therefore high dexterity is the ability to perform difficult actions quickly and skillfully with actions.

It can refer to many types of dexterity, some of which are:

  • Mental dexterity: Quickness and alertness of Mind
  • Manual dexterity: Ability to use your hands in a skillful, coordinated way to grasp and manipulate objects and demonstrate small, precise movements.

Every little task you perform, like picking up a spoon or buttoning your shirt, involves dexterity and it improves with time. While there are conditions like Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in which a patient can loose his/her dexterity and faces difficulty in performing these tasks.

Now, why are we talking about Dexterity? Its because good Manual dexterity is very very important for Surgeons. And why its important for Dentists is written in the following points.

Apart from Surgeons, dexterity is very important for musician too. Basically it is necessary for everyone and should be focused on in every child.

You can understand its importance by the fact that Dental Admission Test (DAT) in the US has a dedicated section to test dexterity skills. Even on the on-campus interviews, the admissions staff asks students how they have worked to improve this skill.

Dentistry is about the Art and Science. It requires a good amount of skill to become an expert Dentist. Among the aspects of Expertise acquisition, natural talent is important but alone, it is not enough. Of course, knowledge, memory and a lot of other soft skills are necessary but talking about the skill part only is something that gets better only with Practice.

Surgeons are Made, not born.

How many recipe reels have you seen where a person making coffee (intentionally) spills some sugar or milk on the table? [Amazing how they manage to fake the very thing that was supposed to make it seem real!😂 But that’s not the point here..] While Clumsiness is being normalized as most people find the videos about it to be relatable, it is not affordable especially if you are a doctor.

Surgeons are required to be able to incise and remove one structure without damaging the delicate surrounding nerves, vessels or soft tissues.

With years of practice, one develops a working memory that can be a set of steps ingrained in their long term memory which then turns into a seamless action when certain vocabulary comes up in its context. This is related to how motor skills can become ‘Muscle memory’.

Oral cavity is small space and difficulty of working in this compact cavity also depends on the mouth opening of the patients.

In there we have to work with high speed rotary instruments. And precision is of utmost importance while using them.

Moreover all this has to be done in indirect vision in half of the cases, by looking just in the mouth mirror.

While every student has been taught all of these skills on models in their college, this pandemic has put a question mark on how much practice we get on actual patients.

But what the pandemic has also done is given us time. The time to work on our skills. We can get better at our dexterity so that when we get back to college, our work on patients becomes more efficient.

So, what exactly is it that we can do to improve Dexterity? I will be writing about that in the next episode of this series!

Until then, share it with your friends and stay tuned for the next one.

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