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THE NEXTDDS Student Ambassador Blogs

An Ergonomically Friendly Dentist

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Practicing dentistry requires significant attentiveness and precision. All too often, the practice is also accompanied by awkward poses, repetitive actions, and a chronically strained back.


In fact, in a study done by the University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry, forty-six to seventy-one percent of the student dental population reported having body pain across all four years of school, with more than seventy percent having pain by their third year. But this is probably just due to the fact that you are still trying to get a grasp of dentistry, trying to avoid indirect vision as much as possible, correct?


Wrong. A systematic review done by MJ Hayes shows that the prevalence of general musculoskeletal pain ranges between sixty-four and ninety-three percent in dental professionals, with the back and neck regions being the most prevalent for dentists. This in turn can result in a decrease in range in motion and strength, weakness and fatigue, and even possible numbness.


There is no doubt that it is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them. Therefore, what can we do now to decrease our risks for chronic musculoskeletal pain?


Be conscientious of your ergonomics. The more you continue to think about maintaining proper posture, properly positioning your patient, utilizing your magnification, and maintaining a neutral position now, the quicker it will become habit. Utilize gloves that fit well while maintaining the necessary equipment relatively close and in proper positioning.  

Purchase ergonomic equipment. If possible, use adjustable chairs that offer lumbar and thoracic support. The less bulky the equipment, the closer you can work to your body and the better your ergonomics will be.  


Take breaks. It is nearly inevitable that every so often, there will be a case where ergonomics just cannot be maintained. As a result, take a break. This will prevent the body from maintaining a static position and allow your muscles to relax. Even better, try utilizing some posture break exercises.


Reward yourself. Being a dental professional takes work. Getting a massage on a regular basis will definitely help ease your tensions and relax your muscles as well.


Start now. Personally, I find myself saying that I will fix my posture once I master the dental aspect, but this definitely is not the best way to go about it. I really encourage each and every one of you to master the dental aspect, but also master your ergonomics alongside it. They really do go hand in hand.


I hope that you can begin to make at least a few changes by incorporating some of the suggestions above into your regular daily routine. I’m confident that by doing so, you will experience less fatigue and pain by the end of the day, while continuing to provide valuable services to your patients.