Chair position in dentistry - Why is it so important?

Dental procedures can be uncomfortable and even painful for patients, and they can also take a toll on the dentist's physical health. One of the primary causes of these issues is poor chair position during procedures.

A poorly designed dental chair can lead to a range of problems for both patients and dentists. Patients may experience discomfort or anxiety during procedures, while dentists may suffer from chronic pain or injuries from poor posture and repetitive motions.

In this article we describe:

Positioning the patient in the dental chair

To reduce the incidence of syncope due to increased anxiety during dental procedures, patients are positioned with their head and heart parallel to the floor and their feet slightly elevated.

This specific positioning helps ensure the patient's comfort and safety during the procedure. 

The importance of proper dental chair position

Proper chair position is critical for both the dentist and the patient. The right position can help prevent injuries, reduce fatigue, and improve visibility.

Ergonomic Considerations: An ergonomic dental chair can help reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders for the dentist. A well-designed chair should provide proper lumbar support, adjustable armrests, and easy-to-use controls.

Ergonomic dental hygienist chairs are scarce

Unfortunately, most dental chairs are not equipped with the right ergonomic components for patient comfort and dentist comfort, which is why we invented the Happynecks headrest pillow and lumbar / knee support.

A dental chair cushion or dental chair pillow and a lumbar support for the lower back that provides maximum support for the lumbar spine when supine on the dental chair for optimal comfort and relaxation during treatment.

Patient comfort is essential during (long) dental procedures. A comfortable chair position can help reduce anxiety and make the patient feel more relaxed.

proper chair position in dentistry 

The importance of proper dental chair position for helping children at the dentist

The same applies to children visiting the dentist. For children, it is even more important to experience comfort in the dental chair. 

Children generally do not fit in dental chairs. While ergonomics in dental practice seating is essential.

Most dental chairs are designed for adults of average height and stature, which can negatively impact the ergonomics of oral care professionals.

This often requires the practitioner to bend over the chair's headrest or sit on the side of the child (known as the "nine o'clock" position), or even pull the child up into the chair, all of which can result in the child sliding down and causing potential harm.

Therefore, it's crucial to ensure that dental chairs are adjustable and can accommodate patients of all ages and sizes, in order to provide the best possible care to patients while maintaining the practitioner's comfort and safety.

That's why we invented the Child Booster Seat

It is designed to ensure that children also fit in the dental chair, lying with their head in the correct position. In this way, the practitioner has an optimal view of the teeth and can ensure ergonomics.

Child Booster Seat for children at the dentist dental chair

How do you position a dental assistant chair?

In order to maintain neutral posture, the dental assistant should be seated close enough to the oral cavity to avoid leaning forward.

The ideal position is with the assistant's left hip at the patient's left shoulder, and their knees angled towards the patient's head.

Most patient chairs are designed to facilitate this position, as they are tapered towards the head of the chair.

It's important to avoid positioning the thighs parallel with the long axis of the patient, as this requires more twisting of the assistant's trunk.

When the dentist is in the 11 o'clock or 12 o'clock position, close positioning may cause the assistant's and doctor's knees to make contact, especially if the dentist or assistant is long-legged.

In some cases, interlocking knees may help both the dentist and assistant maintain better positioning during procedures.

However, some dental professionals may feel uncomfortable with this level of contact.

Overcoming any hesitancy requires clear communication and professionalism between the dentist and assistant, with the goal of preserving the health of the assistant and providing high-quality patient care.

What is the most common position for patient in dental chair?

To ensure proper dental posture during dental procedures, the dentist's chair should be adjusted so that the undersurface of the thighs is parallel to the floor and the top surface of the thighs is angled slightly downward.

The dentist should sit back in the chair with their shoulders back and relaxed, avoiding leaning forward.

The patient chair should be fully reclined for most procedures, and the foot pedal should be adjusted to achieve the appropriate position.

To maintain good posture, the base of the chair should be raised so that the dentist's forearms are slightly raised and their elbows are tucked in. Leaning over the patient for extended periods should be avoided to prevent back strain.

Finally, it's important for the dentist to stretch their back appropriately at the end of the session to relieve any tension.

Should the dental chair be positioned as low as possible?

When seated in the dental chair, make sure that your feet are positioned flat on the ground.

When working from clock positions 9-12 o'clock, it's recommended to spread your feet apart so that your legs and the chair base form a tripod, creating a stable position for the practitioner.

Avoid positioning your legs behind the patient's chair, as this can compromise your stability and increase the risk of injury.

By maintaining a stable position during procedures, you can provide better care to your patients while minimizing the risk of discomfort or injury for yourself.

What are the qualities of a good dental chair?

A good dental chair should possess certain key features, such as:

  • An adjustable height to accommodate patients of varying sizes and shapes
  • An even and smooth surface that isn't overly hard, soft, or slippery
  • A curved design that enhances patient comfort.
  • Additionally, comfortable arm and Happynecks headrests are essential to ensure that patients remain relaxed and at ease during their dental procedures.

By providing patients with a comfortable and supportive chair, dental professionals can enhance the overall patient experience while also optimizing their own ability to deliver effective treatment.

In conclusion. Remember that neglecting dental ergonomics is costlier than just money. The benefits of good ergonomics in dentistry far outweigh the consequences for you and your team. 

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About the writer

Jerry (fysiotherapeut) kwam in zijn particuliere praktijk veel tandartsen tegen met verschillende nek- en schouderklachten. Daarnaast klaagden veel patiënten na een tandheelkundige behandeling over nekklachten. Jerry nam contact op met zijn partner Peter. Samen besloten ze de ergonomie en ondersteuning van de nek tijdens de tandheelkundige zorg te onderzoeken.

Daartoe riepen ze de hulp in van tandzorgverleners uit hun kennissenkring. Ze kwamen er al snel achter dat hier nog veel te winnen viel... Peter daagde Jerry vervolgens uit om naar de tekentafel te gaan en een schets te maken van de ideale neksteun in een behandelstoel. Resultaat: Happynecks® versie 1 was geboren :)