Ergonomics and Posture
Do you tend to have less-than-perfect posture throughout the day? Do you know what the long-term effects of poor posture are?
It’s no secret that the dental profession is physically, mentally, and emotionally demanding. As dental professionals, we take care of others, even at the cost of our own health. Improper posture can cause musculoskeletal disorders and occupational pain that can reduce your career’s longevity and limit your quality of life.
Slouching and accommodating your body to a patient is one of the most common ergonomic mistakes a person can make. Practicing better posture, regardless of your profession, is one of the best things you can do for your long-term health, regardless of your profession.
The field of ergonomics is changing rapidly, and many people and businesses have taken notice. New technologies and products likes loupes, loupe straps, saddle stools, and patient cushions, as well as companies that will assess your posture are emerging and improving their products to prevent musculoskeletal disorders.
Utilizing these ergonomic products and services can reduce your chances of chronic pain and potential injury as someone working in the dental field. It is essential to take the time to position yourself and the patient properly as that will increase quality of care, productivity, and your posture.
Stretching and physical activity are also ways to prevent musculoskeletal disorders and pain. Staying physically active is not only good for your physical health, but your mental health as well. For example, yoga can help with flexibility, stress-reduction, mindfulness, and posture. It has also been shown to strengthen the immune system.
Tools of the trade
Making sure you have sharpened instruments can prevent injury and subsequent hand pain. Repetitive overuse of dull instruments increases your risk of developing hand disorders like carpal tunnel, ganglion cysts, and tendonitis. There are multiple sharpening aids on the market that can make it easier for clinicians to sharpen their tools more efficiently and effectively.
Another great injury-prevention strategy is to incorporate several breaks throughout the day — whether it’s a two-minute bathroom break or a walk around the office. It can sometimes be tempting to skip bathroom breaks when your schedule is full, but this can damage muscles and kidneys if it becomes habitual.
You also need to stay hydrated as dehydration can cause headaches, fatigue, and xerostomia, all of which will negatively affect your daily performance.
We are prevention specialists who need to practice quality ergonomics to enhance our overall health and increase career longevity. Dental professionals must protect their bodies to live pain-free and have an active life during and after their dental career. So prepare for the day: Stretch, exercise, practice mindfulness, have sharp instruments, take breaks, utilize ergonomic equipment, and stay hydrated!