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The ubiquity of musculoskeletal disorders is well established among dental professionals. This leads dental professionals to face detrimental effects on productivity. The professionals who are already in the field for quite a few years, are aware of the pain they feel and the discomfort they face because of ergonomic hazards like strained posture and repetitive movements involved in their job.
Usually, people who are not involved in the profession tend to underestimate the strain this profession puts on a human body. The list of occupational hazards for dental professionals does not end here with musculoskeletal disorders; it even involves burnout and stress, allergies, percutaneous injury, mercury-related health issues, infections, and vision-related health problems, to name just a few.
What contributes to musculoskeletal disorders in dental professionals is the static posture held for a long time. Maintaining prolonged static posture is inevitable in the profession of dentists.
We have gathered some precautions that you can employ as a dental professional to prevent and reduce musculoskeletal disorders.
The instruments that are involved in dentistry have to be in certain dimensions. The diameters range from 5.6 to 11.5mm. The instrument with larger handle diameters reduces hand muscle load and pinch force. Balance is required to reduce hand muscle fatigue; fulcrum on a third digit rest does not engage the wrist as much as a fourth digit rest while positioning or guiding the instrument or handpiece. These technical nuances have to be taken care of in the dental hygienist’s profession.
Operator and patient positioning
Many surveys show that irrespective of the operator position used, many practicing dental hygienists developed musculoskeletal disorders. And other research shows how switching between standing and sitting will allow one group of muscles to rest; meanwhile, the workload is shifted to another group of muscles as standing uses different muscle groups than sitting. Similarly, repositioning the feet, subtle changes in foot position, and adjusting throughout operations can shift the workload from one group of lower back muscles to another. This, too, will allow the overworked tissues to be recharged.
Positioning patients at the appropriate height can also be another precaution to employ. It would be immensely helpful for a more extended period session if operators take the time to position their patients properly for mandibular or maxillary procedures. Additionally, using a saddle-style operator stool, which increases the hip angle and promotes the natural lower back curve, would also benefit.
Right fitting loupes
The proper use of magnification has been associated with reduced neck and low back pain. Proper selection, adjustment, and usage of loupes have been encouraged ever since practitioners used student loupes in their practices. The well-fitting loupes allow operators to maintain healthier postures throughout the day.
The influence of gloves on causing body pain due to hand discomfort is yet to be confirmed; however, it is still directly cited as a potential contributing factor in carpal tunnel syndrome. Non-hand specific gloves or multifaceted gloves apply more force than fitted gloves across the palm, which may intensify carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. This is why it is a must for dental professionals to always choose hand-specific gloves; they fit well and exert less force on hands.
Appropriate patient scheduling
Dental professionals must learn the art of time management in their initial years. It can lead to fatigue when hygienists have to attend patients with no break. Scheduling patients should be done in a way that would allow the periodic hygienist breaks. While these breaks spare some time, hygienists should practice doing chairside directional stretching. The stretches performed in the opposite direction of the prolonged static posture can help prevent muscle imbalances that can lead to pain and MSDs. Directional stretches like rotation, side bending, or extension component can be performed in or out of the operatory as required. They can also be incorporated into a daily routine that facilitates balanced musculoskeletal health.
Stretching frequently addresses the harmful physiological changes that are very likely to develop while working in prolonged static postures. It increases blood flow to muscles, production of joint synovial fluid, nutrient supply to vertebral disks, reduces the formation of trigger points, maintains a normal joint range of motion, creates a relaxation response in the central nervous system, and warms up the muscle before starting the work.
Stress can be a leading cause of muscular contraction and pain, especially in the trapezius muscle. Many techniques can help operators to decrease stress-related muscular tension. These techniques include progressive relaxation, breathing techniques, massage, visualization, aerobic exercise, meditation, and yoga.
Musculoskeletal disorders can cause not only physiological strain but the financial strain on many dental hygienists. Therefore, as you progress from being a student to becoming a practitioner, you must incorporate specific precautionary measures for a longer and healthier career in the field. Start today with the right pair of loupes for your practice; buy the best student loupes from Schultz loupes. We provide accommodation to our customers' every need and provide discounted dental loupes for students with an assortment of colors and trendy designs.