Dental posture: Guidelines + Tips & Photo's!

As a dentist and or assistant you often experience strain and musculoskeletal issues. This can possibly lead to early retirement. This issue can be resolved by correcting posture while treating patients. In this article we will share a few guidelines. By following these guidelines, you as a dentists or dental assistant can avoid strain and musculoskeletal issues, ensuring safer working practices.

In this article we describe:

What are the postural problems in dentistry?

Dental professionals are required to maintain static postures for extended periods of time, which can lead to discomfort and musculoskeletal issues.

This is especially true when performing clinical work, as dentists and their assistants may need to bend forward and repeatedly rotate their head, neck, and trunk to one side.

Such awkward postures can cause strain on the body and increase the risk of injury.

10 O'clock position

Holding the 10 o'clock position while working can cause discomfort and pain in the shoulder, arm, and hand muscles, as it requires the dentist to raise their arms above the patient's head and lean to one side.

The optimal posture for preventing such issues is the 12 o'clock position, where the arms are not elevated, and the dentist can comfortably situate themselves above the patient's head.

It's important to note that the 11-12 o'clock position allows for performing 70% of dental treatments.

Sitting Too Low

Sitting on a flat seat pan with thighs parallel to the floor rolls the pelvis backward and flattens the natural curve of the lower back. This flattening can have adverse effects on the spinal musculature and the discs.

To prevent muscle strain, disc pressure, and low back pain, the hips should be higher than the knees.

Adjusting the operator stool to a higher level, where the thighs slope more steeply downward, can help maintain the natural curvature of the lower back by positioning the hips higher than the knees.

TTL Loupes

Maintaining a forward head posture of over 20 degrees can cause significant neck pain. However, using through-the-lens (TTL) loupes restricts the dentist's ability to maintain a safe head posture.

Additionally, employing long barrel (high magnification) scopes attached to TTL frames can increase pressure on the cervical spine and lead to severe neck pain and dysfunction.

To maintain an optimal head posture angle of less than 20 degrees, dentists should use appropriate loupes.

Ergonomic risk factors for dentists - Posture neck

Why is posture important in dentistry?

The significance of posture in dentistry cannot be overstated.

Dental ergonomics emphasizes the importance of maintaining a natural and comfortable posture for dentists to prevent musculoskeletal problems.

This, in turn, helps in providing patient-friendly treatment, enhancing treatment efficiency, and achieving treatment accuracy.

dentistry ergonomics

Dental posture guidelines; What is the ideal posture of an oral health professional? 

To sit correctly while treating patients, follow these guidelines:

  • Position the patient's head in a 60-90 degree angle.
  • Keep your arms in a neutral position.
  • Adjust your chair using the levers underneath. Chair position in dentistry is very important.
  • Sit as close to the patient as possible.
  • Keep both feet flat on the ground and upper board of the thigh slightly bent.
  • Keep your back straight and shoulders horizontal.
  • Sit more on the edge of your seat to encourage good posture.
  • Move around the patient's head to get a better view of the oral cavity.
  • Use different positions to view the oral cavity from different angles.
  • Make sure the nursing chair is about 10 centimeters higher than the operator's chair.

dental posture guidelines

By following these guidelines as a dentist or assistant you can avoid strain and musculoskeletal issues, ensuring safer working practices. 

9 Tips for Maintaining Good Dental Posture

  1. Sit up straight: Maintaining a straight posture helps to prevent strain on your neck and back muscles. This will help keep your dental posture in check.

  2. Keep your feet flat on the ground: Keep your feet flat on the ground to maintain a stable base while sitting.

  3. Relax your shoulders: Avoid raising your shoulders or tensing them up while sitting. Instead, keep them relaxed and level.

  4. Position your computer screen correctly: Position your computer screen at eye level to prevent tilting your head downwards or upwards.

  5. Take frequent breaks: Take frequent breaks to stand up and stretch your neck and back muscles. This will help prevent stiffness and strain.

  6. Use a supportive chair: Use a chair with good back support to maintain proper posture and reduce strain on your neck and back.

  7. Use a headset: If you frequently talk on the phone, use a headset to avoid tilting your head to hold the phone.

  8. Avoid cradling the phone: If you must hold the phone, avoid cradling it between your ear and shoulder. Instead, hold it in your hand or use a headset.

  9. Use a pillow for support: Use a pillow or cushion to support your lower back while sitting. For patient comfort you can ofcourse use our headrest and our lumbar / knee support cushion

  10. Maintain good oral habits: Regular dental checkups, brushing, and flossing can help maintain good dental posture by keeping your teeth and gums healthy and properly aligned.

 

Position of the head and the impact:

dental posture 

 

 

 

 

 

  

dental posture 

 

 

 

 

 

 

incorrect dental posture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By following these tips, you can maintain good dental posture, reduce strain on your neck and back muscles, and promote overall health and well-being.

Remember, maintaining good dental posture is important for your overall health and can prevent many painful conditions.

Proper sitting techniques for dental assistants

Having the proper sitting technique is crucial for dental assistants. By positioning themselves correctly on the dental assistant stool, they can:

  • Reduce fatigue.
  • Improve visibility of the dental field.
  • and easily access the necessary materials during procedures.

A dental stool is designed with simple and straightforward parts that provide comfort, stability, and mobility while working.

The covering of a dental stool should be durable and easy to disinfect between patients. The abdominal bar of a dental stool should be adjusted to provide either back or abdominal support, while a foot bar at the base should offer additional support.

Adjusting the height positioning lever under the seat allows for improved visibility, with the dental assistant sitting about four to six inches taller than the dentist.

Good posture is also essential for comfort and efficiency, especially during lengthy procedures where the dental assistant may be in a fixed position. In these cases, a mobile cart can be used to hold various instruments and materials.

When positioned correctly on the stool, dental assistants are ready to work smoothly and efficiently alongside the dentist.

dental assistant positioning during long dental 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 :)