0411 - The Ergonomics of Dental Assisting: Preventing and Managing Work-Related Pain

Author/Editor: Dr. Bethany Valachi, PT, DPT, MS, CEAS

All dental team members face physical challenges when delivering dental care, including sustained postures, awkward movements and repetitive motions. However dental assistants face a unique set of musculoskeletal challenges when working chairside: they are unable to position their knees under the patient, cannot freely re-position their chair to different “clock” positions, have difficulty viewing the oral cavity, and must frequently accommodate to the dentist’s positioning. Combined with poor operatory layout or delivery systems it is understandable why assistants report that their highest prevalence of musculoskeletal pain is in the low back.

If dental professionals ignore regularly occurring pain or discomfort, the cumulative physiological damage can lead to an injury or career-ending disability. Knowledge of how physical damage occurs, proper body mechanics in the operatory, adjustment of ergonomic equipment and balanced musculoskeletal health can help assistants implement effective injury prevention strategies, make wise choices regarding ergonomic equipment and place of employment, improve quality of life and extend their careers.

CE Credits: 3
Original Release Date: 2004; Review Date: Currently Under Review


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