Objective: The purpose of this study was to determine whether basic manual dexterity (BMD) could be an important parameter in selecting students for the Degree in Dentistry (CLOPD) and to assess whether initial manual dexterity in students admitted to the CLOPD can improve with training in pre-clinical and clinical practice.
Design: Observational study.
Setting: The study was carried out at the Catholic University of Rome, in five consecutive academic years.
Subjects and methods: Four hundred and thirty-three subjects (262 males and 171 females) were tested (10 different exercises) in five consecutive years. Two retests were performed after three and five years respectively from the beginning of the experimentation.
Main outcome measures: The scores of individual exercises were averaged for each candidate, assessing the mean value of basic manual dexterity score (BMDS).
Results: It was possible to observe some differences among candidates coming from different types of high schools, since those having a prior university degree or a scientific high school degree proved better than those with classical or vocational high school qualifications (p < 0.05). A statistically significant improvement of BMDS has been observed in students who attended the CLOPD for at least 32 months.
Conclusions: Data obtained revealed that basic manual dexterity is not essential in the selection of dental students. Students who could follow training significantly improved in their manual ability.