Ergonomics for the Orthodontic Practice

Dentistry is an exciting, progressive, and fulfilling career. We are health care providers and want the best for our patients; every day, we provide preventative, restorative, and cosmetic recommendations and treatment to help our patients achieve that beautiful smile and optimal oral and systemic health. As clinicians, our heart is chairside, our patients are our priority, and we give 110% of ourselves, physically and mentally. The paradox is that despite the amazing everyday work we do as dental professionals in order for our patients to experience wellness, it can be at the expense of ourselves.

Musculoskeletal issues causing back, shoulder, and neck pain are common in all fields and procedures of dentistry, affecting 8 out of 10 dental practitioners. And orthodontic procedures are no exception. Working with the challenges of dental and orthodontic procedures, day in and day out, results in clinicians spending hours leaning their heads forward, tipped to the side, working with rounded shoulders and their backs unsupported. This poor posture places stress on the entire body causing unnecessary strain, repetitive stress and injury to the skeletal system, the nerves, and blood vessels of the body. Many aches and pains result directly from how we work; however, these symptoms are often ignored, tolerated and/or temporarily relieved with pain relievers with the hope the symptoms will go away.

There are things we cannot change in dentistry, making ergonomics a challenge, but the opposite is also true; there are things we can change and control, which can allow us to continue to care for our patients with better access, visibility, and comfort.

Here are a few suggestions on ways to stay pain-free and experience longevity as a dental practitioner.

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American Orthodontic Society

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