Is a Visual Illusion Making You Over-Drill?

It’s possible that you are drilling larger holes in your patients’ teeth than you need to.

A new study done in New Zealand and published in the journal PLOS One suggests that dentists may fall victim to a visual illusion that could affect treatment. The optical illusion, called the Delboeuf Illusion, refers to a situation in which two circles are placed one inside of the other. Depending on the size of the outer circle, the contained circle could appear either larger or smaller than it actually is. If the surrounding circle is much larger, similar to what is seen with holes in teeth, it can make the inner circle look smaller.

In a test with 8 endodontists and 21 teeth, it was found that the clinicians increased average-sized holes by 0.59 mm, and larger-than-average holes by up to nearly 1.0 mm. Researchers say that although this specific test focused on dentistry exclusively, the principle of the Delboeuf Illusion could extend to other aspects of healthcare.

 

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