It is without doubt that the dental profession is one of the most physical careers in healthcare. Dentistry actually involves the entire body - the neck and head, the back, the shoulders, the arms and hands, and even the legs. Whether you are a dentist, hygienist, or dental assistant, dentistry causes significant stress on the body. In order to maintain a healthy, long-term career, it is important to develop good habits to avoid pain, injury, and even disability.
4-handed dentistry is a must for the dental professional. It is when the dental assistant and dentist uses both of their hands to perform dentistry in the most time efficient, productive way. Maintaining proper ergonomics takes time and commitment but can greatly minimize the risk of injury to the dental professional as well as patient. Often when 4-handed dentistry is perfected, the dentist and assistant can work in unison without speaking or even lifting their heads.
Dentistry can do a lot of physical damage to a person’s body. In fact, the Dental Research Journal reports that dentistry is considered by the practitioners and most of the public as being extremely hazardous. It is clinically proven that dentistry can cause:
- Neck pain from improper head position
- Hand pain due to repetitive stress on the hands from instruments and hand-pieces
- Back pain because of poor ergonomic movements
- Other musculoskeletal disorders from the cumulative stresses of poor positioning
In order to strengthen your body, it is recommended to do exercises to improve your flexibility and build stronger muscles and joints. Exercises like yoga, core building, and stretching can improve and sustain your body throughout a long career in dentistry.
Dentistry has come a long way in equipment and technology to ease a dental professional’s life. Use it to your advantage to avoid injury!
- Dental microscope or loupes: Using magnification can improve your vision so you are not straining your eyes or neck to get a better visual of the mouth.
- Dental Headlight: Provides shadow free illumination of the entire oral cavity, which means a clear and comfortable working experience all day long.
- Saddle chair: Saddle chairs that are ergonomically set to your height or standing can help your lower back by decreasing the amount of pressure and strain on your muscles and ligaments.
- Custom ear plugs: Listening to your loud handpieces daily can put a strain on your hearing. A set of ear plugs can help maintain your hearing and decrease long-term damage.
- Lighter instruments: Chronic use of heavy instruments puts stress on your wrists and fingers. Choose lighter weight instruments and hand-pieces to prevent putting too much pressure on the hands.
If you are in the process of building an office, plan where the equipment will go to allow for 4-handed dentistry and the best ergonomic movements. Remember to plan ahead with your assistant regarding the materials and instruments you will need for a procedure. This will helps avoid the stress, time, and movements that can cause poor posture and injury. Working with your staff on maintaining good body movements will prevent disabilities that are avoidable.
- Reminders: Give your team gentle reminders on their posture and working on 4 handed dentistry
- Team exercises: Implementing quick physical and mental strength exercises for your dental team is a great pre-work warm up. Your staff will appreciate the investment into their well being.
1. Dental Research Journal, Occupational hazards to dental staff
By Dr. Anand, DDS | firstname.lastname@example.org