The current study investigates the role of egocentric and allocentric spatial abilities in the field of dentistry. Whereas allocentric ability requires spatial transformation from a stationary point of reference, egocentric spatial ability is tied to the sensory-motor system, and it requires changing one's imagined perspective in space. Experiment 1 investigates the role of different spatial abilities in a tooth preparation exercise. Experiment 2 investigates the interaction of allocentric and egocentric spatial abilities with the effectiveness of haptic virtual reality training. The results show that only egocentric spatial ability was a significant predictor of success in tooth preparation. In addition, an egocentric spatial ability test was the reliable predictor of success in more complex (indirect vision) tasks during haptic virtual reality training. Our results indicate the need for the development of finer measures of the specific spatial skills that might be needed for different dental specializations. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.