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Understanding Ergonomics: Why dentistry hurts your neck?

Every dentist, already know the physical strains of our profession. Sadly, research has shown that strained posture and prolonged repetitive movements could lead to musculoskeletal disorders.

According to recent study, up to 93% of dental professionals, experience spine, shoulder, and hand-wrist pain and problems.

From a practical standpoint, lot of questions are raised. What can we do inside our practices to help ourselves?

What can be done on regular basis to make our posture upright?

After all, we’re in a no-work, no-pay profession, and a pain in our neck equals strain on our pocketbooks.

Control your patient position

We often position our patients where they believe they’ll be most comfortable. This is attributed as coming from a kind-hearted place. Dental professionals experienced patients who can’t rest back. This made professionals wonder regarding the general negligence of posture among masses. Dentists often underutilize the adjustable headrest on dental chairs.  This practice of not setting the chair according to the comfort of the dentist, is widely done. Dentists hardly pay attention to their supine positions. For them, it’s the patient’s comfort that comes first.

Dental Professionals should educate themselves and other in dental fraternity regarding the importance of posture.

Here are some tips to practice with dental team:

  1. As soon as your patient takes a seat, ask him or her to sit up tall.
  2. Ask the patient to scoot his or her hips back into the chair.
  3. Raise the headrest to meet the patient’s new position.

The goals are to position patients for comfort and better accessibility and to support all of Mother Nature’s concavities, such as the break of the knees, the small of the back, and where the occipital bone meets the cervical spine. There are videos and pictures etc available on online to learn from.

Control your own provider position

Now that once patient is properly positioned, here are some quick tips to get you started:

  1. Seat with ankles at hips’ distance apart.
  2. Keep knees over ankles.
  3. Keep hips over knees.
  4. Keep shoulders over hips.
  5. Keep head over shoulders.

Last and certainly not least

Most importantly, don’t forget to keep hands at heart position. If dentists don’t know what that means, grab your cellphone and send a text. That’s where one should position their hands as while treating patient.

Dentistry doesn’t have to be a pain in your neck if one follow such advices for reducing discomfort. These simple strategies are the keys to staying healthy and happy as we ring in the holidays and head into the New Year.

-article published in

December 20, 2019

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