In a continuous effort of practicing and delivering EXTRAORDINARY DENTISTRY one of the main aspects of that concept is protecting the practitioner’s health.
But despite an increased awareness on the subject, the health of dental practitioners is still negatively impacted by poor ergonomics and bad working habits.
Ergonomics is the science of fitting a given task to human capabilities and limitations – with the attempt to improve workplace safety and productivity. The dental profession in particular is exposed to the risk of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) or cumulative trauma disorders (CTD). Risk factors for work related MSDs with specific reference to dentistry include stress, poor flexibility, improper positioning, infrequent breaks, repetitive movements, weak postural muscles, prolonged awkward postures and improper adjustment of equipment.
XO CARE has always placed the highest emphasis on ergonomics and proper working postures, and this has been a key aspect in XO product development and -design.
Proper ergonomic design is necessary to prevent repetitive strain injuries (RSJ), which can develop over time and can lead to long term disability.
Below is a description of correct postures and an explanation of different methods to implement ergonomics in the dental operatory thereby enabling practitioners to work with comfort, efficiency and ease.
Unfortunately, a multitude of work-related health problems frequently occur in dental clinics. Two thirds of all dentists suffer from neck, shoulder, or back pain. When investigating sitting positions Dr. A. C. Mandal has studied the sitting position of surgeons and office workers who were working in a certain sitting position. He discovered that the human hip joint can be articulated by a maximum of 60° in order to avoid damage to the spine and lumbar vertebrae.
In order to properly make use of these finding the stool has to be set at a correct height rather than often being set too low. Additionally, the surface of the seat must be tilted slightly forward instead of parallel to the floor in approximation. As per Dr. Mandal’s finding the optimal sitting position is that the angle of the hip joint and the angle between the upper body and thighs is approximately 120 degrees. As a consequence of this upright sitting posture, the dentist is able to move around the patient with considerably greater ease. The intervertebral discs are evenly loaded and are not compressed, and breathing is made easier.
A good posture requires that the dentist works within the plane of symmetry of the body. This means that the dentist must refrain from twisting the body, neck or head, or from bending sideways. When the posture is balanced, static muscle load is minimized. Parallel lines should extend horizontally through the eyes, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees and ankles. Such an approach allows positive effects such as avoidance of fatigue and overload and altering the body position more easily. Additionally, working movement in the oral cavity are easier and more precise.
Proper working posture is also supplemented by positioning the equipment in the correct way. The instrument bridge cannot be much too far from the patient’s mouth and the unit instrument suspension must not be pulling the instrument bridge. The light must also be located in a direct position without obstructing the practitioner’s view. Furthermore, the instrument should be placed away from the direct line of sight of the patient in order to ease the psychological burden during the dental experience.
Offering the ultimate ergonomic experience poses a lot of challenges. It is part of XO CARE’s mission statement and design-philosophy to provide ergonomically correct products that protect the practitioners’ health.
Read more on ergonomics: