Learning dental procedures is a complex task involving the development of fine motor skills. The reported use of theories and/or evidence for designing learning activities to develop the fine motor skills needed for dental practice is limited. The aim of this review is to explore the available body of knowledge related to learning motor skills relevant to dentistry. Evidence from studies investigating motor skill learning highlights the negative impact of self-focus and self-regulation on learning outcomes, particularly during the early stages of learning. The development of activities and schedules that enable novices to demonstrate characteristics similar to experts, without the reported long period of ‘deliberate practice’, is clearly of value. Outcomes of learning implicitly are important in dentistry because working under stressful conditions is common, either during undergraduate study or in practice. It is suggested that learning implicitly in the simulation stage can reduce disrupted performance when transitioning to clinical settings. Therefore, further investigation of effective methods for learning dental fine motor skills is indicated, using approaches that result in robust performance, even under stressful conditions.
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