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    5 steps to a pain-free dental career

    These essential steps can be invaluable to preventing pain and ensuring career longevity.

     

    Operatory      Fig. 1

    1. ‘Ergonomize’ your operatory

     It is all too common to observe dental professionals spending money on chiropractic adjustments, personal trainers or expensive gadgets, only to return to the operatory environment that likely caused the pain problem in the first place. It is no surprise that the pain syndrome usually returns, and round and round it goes … 

    Related reading: Delivery systems—is yours delivering pain?

    So, first and foremost, you need to resolve ergonomic problems in your operatory. Some important questions to ask include:

    • How can I easily and economically “ergonomize” my operatory layout? (Fig. 1)

    • How should I adjust the levers on my operator stool to optimize my spinal health?

    • Is my loupe declination angle improving or hurting the health of my neck?

    • Is the occlusal plane properly oriented for treating the upper arch?

    • What style of stool is best for preventing back pain?

    • Do my gloves fit properly?

    • What is the best clock position to treat my patients?

    Related reading: How better dental office design can prolong your career

    For example, one of the most common ergonomic mistakes I observe is through-the-lens loupes with a poor declination angle that force the dentist into an unsafe forward head posture, which causes neck pain. I have found that there is only one style of loupe on the market that consistently keeps all operators in a safe head posture — the vertically adjustable flip-up-style loupe. However, before you invest in ergonomic equipment, it is helpful to know which stools, loupes, instruments, gloves and chairs will benefit your health and not make it worse. In my Equipment Recommendations Portal, you’ll find my “go-to” list of ergonomic equipment I use in consultations (http://bit.ly/ErgoEquipment).

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    Dr. Bethany Valachi, PT, MS, CEAS
    Dr. Bethany Valachi, PT, MS, CEAS is DPR’s ergonomics editor and author of the book,“Practice Dentistry Pain-Free” and clinical ...

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