December 9, 2021

Top Ergonomic Tips for the Dental Professional

Without proper prevention and a concentrated effort to work smart, dental professionals are at risk for some debilitating aches and pains. According to a National Institute of Health study, up to 95% of this category of workers experienced musculoskeletal disease and pain in the shoulders and back.

A common misconception is that dentistry is a fairly easy career path, with nice working hours, benefits galore and low physical demands. In reality, the majority of people working at a dental office will tell you that unicorn situations are rare.

In a recent segment of BURST tv, dental hygienist Stephanie Botts used her passion for helping her colleagues to share some top tips for reducing job related injuries.

Stephanie’s top two tips include: establishing neutral posture and incorporating microbreaks into the clinician’s workday. Both are based on ergonomics. Ergonomics is the science of fitting the workplace to the worker. Dental professionals are the worker, their workplace is everything in the operatory that is not the clinician including but not limited to the patient chair, patients, and instruments. All of these things should be adjustable to support the clinician in neutral posture.

Establishing neutral posture should be adjusted first as it gives the clinician a foundation and a base by which to then adjust everything else in the operatory to support the clinician in neutral posture. The first adjustment will be the clinician stool. In a sitting position, the stool should be raised enough that the hips are above the knee line and the chair seat should be slightly tilted forward which opens up the angle of the hips and reduces pressure on the lower back. The professionals arms should be close to the sides and bent at 90 degrees. The patient’s head should be about elbow level when the arms are bent at 90 degrees. To achieve neutral neck posture, the ear should be in line with the shoulder which is in line with the hip.

Defined by Futurity, “Microbreaks are short, voluntary, and impromptu respites in the work day. Microbreaks include discretionary activities such as having a snack, chatting with a colleague, stretching, or working on a crossword puzzle.” Stephanie encourages dental professionals to take microbreaks to stretch and demonstrates several stretches in her recent segment of BURST tv which is linked below.

Overall, BURST hopes that these ergonomic tips from our friend Stephanie will help you work towards a long, healthy career.