Practicing the art of dentistry entails a superior degree of precision and concentration.
However, persistent vibration and repetitious hand movements from high-speed hand tools can make dental practitioners more prone to musculoskeletal disorders.
Additionally, several dentists usually find themselves in an uncomfortable, static position when they treat their patients. It matters to note that this sustained position can lead to injury, pain, or in serious cases of disability, musculoskeletal disorders. From these injuries alone, a dentist’s early retirement may be a result.
Generally, like in all career fields, a career path in dentistry is not immune from a plethora of ergonomic risks.
Ergonomic Risks in Dentistry
Dentists usually encounter various ergonomic risks in clinical practice such as:
- Visual fatigue due to inadequate lighting of the oral cavity, poor visualization, or lack of magnification
- Significant repetitive movements that come with forceful exertions during several procedures
- Poor working positions and postures
- Lack of adjustable equipment
- Sustained muscular contractions when long dental procedures are performed
Thus, the latter can cause muscle spasms, poor circulation, strain on the body, among other ailments.
It is essential to note that dentists can also be emotionally stressed. In turn, this can lead to a higher risk of musculoskeletal injury as there is a connection between emotional and physical stress. Higher blood pressure and muscle tension can greatly contribute more than just biochemical risk factors. Due to this, it is quite important to take breaks to prevent forceful exertion and nerve injuries to wrists and hands.
Ergonomic Equipment for Dentists
Having excellent, ergonomically-designed equipment is critical for dental practitioners. This can help them enable easily access the patient’s oral cavity in the most convenient, comfortable way possible. Indeed, this begins with a narrow patient chair to enable the dental practitioner to get close.
A supportive operator stool is also necessary to provide correct spinal support and alignment. Lighting and magnification to improve the practitioner’s view into the oral cavity without straining the eyes is also important for dentists.
Being cautious of your working position has to be a vital part of the practitioner’s working equation. Sustaining a well-balanced position during the day is a must.
Take into consideration that the most valuable factor is fixing ergonomic problems in the operatory is ensuring staff maintain the right posture whether standing or seated.
In line with these, headlamps, loupes, and adjustable chairs are a few useful investments a dentist can make to ward off neck complications from developing. These latter tools allow for more natural neck and head postures. Apart from these, lightweight, balanced hand instruments with a comfortable grip is another bonus. In short, when you hold a certain instrument using your hand, you must not feel any pulling or muscle tension.
Always remember that it is pivotal to listen to body pains and aches, so you can respond before they aggravate. It is important to participate in regular physical activity to specifically target those areas of fatigue, strain, and stress.