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Science + Tech

Train like a gamer: How video games could benefit the future of dentistry

The Entertainment Software Association estimated in 2018 that over 166 million adults in the United States play video games. The popularity of gaming is so vast that eSports, competitive, organized video gaming, reached $906 million in revenue worldwide in 2018, according to a global market report by Newzoo.

How is this relevant to dentistry? Because video games could help prime dentists to become better clinicians. Some dental schools such as the University of Pennsylvania already incorporate a form of virtual reality as a teaching tool for students to prepare them for operative dentistry. This allows students to work with dental tools in a virtual space that simulates working on physical objects. Virtual reality isn’t the only type of video game relevant to dentistry. Video game puzzles are often visual tests based on perceptual ability, like the PAT portion of the DAT.

The research connecting general video game experience and skills in clinical dentistry is lacking. However, a July 2014 literature review in the American Journal of Surgery noted a positive correlation between video game experience and improved performance on laparoscopic surgery. A December 2018 study in Anaesthesia Critical Care and Pain Medicine found that previous video game experience helped anesthesiology residents intubate their first patient faster than residents who did not play video games. Previous video game experience might help dentists improve their manual dexterity.

Finish reading this article in the September 2019 issue of Contour magazine.


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David Alpert

David Alpert, Tufts ’21, is his chapter newsletter editor-in-chief and the district 1 newsletter chair.

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