Dr. Bethany Valachi, PT, MS, CEAS is DPR’s ergonomics editor and author of the book,“Practice Dentistry Pain-Free” and clinical instructor of ergonomics at OHSU School of Dentistry in Portland, Ore. A physical therapist who has worked exclusively with dental professionals for more than 15 years, she is recognized internationally as an expert in dental ergonomics, and has been invited to lecture at more than 300 conferences worldwide. She has published more than 50 articles in peer-reviewed dental journals and has developed patient positioning and exercise DVDs specifically for dental professionals. Bethany offers free newsletters, articles, videos and product reviews on her website at www.posturedontics.com and can be reached at [email protected]
Ergonomic challenges in the front office rivals can often rival those in the dental operatory! Just as in many dental operatory scenarios, you don’t have to break the bank to ‘ergonomize’ your front office. Here are the top problems I encounter in dental front offices and easy, economical fixes.
The percentage of women pulling up chairside in the operatory is increasing. And studies show that women in dentistry experience a higher frequency and severity of pain than their male counterparts, with the thumbs, hands, hips, neck, and shoulder being particularly problematic.
Naturally, you want your patient to be comfortable. However, when we compare how many hours a year the average patient spends reclined in a dental chair (several hours), with the time you spend hovering over the oral cavity (over 2000 hours), who is really at risk of developing discomfort or pain?
Imagine hiring a personal trainer, participating in a CrossFit program or simply trying a new gym machine to help improve your musculoskeletal health, only to end up in more pain than when you started! Unfortunately, I hear numerous accounts of this occurring among dentists. Most healthcare professionals do not realize that dentists are predisposed to unique muscle imbalances—certain generic exercises, that are not a problem for the general population, can throw the dentist into a vicious pain cycle.