Dental Ergonomics and Yoga
As dental students, we all know how hectic work at a dental school can be. We all have been taught about chair position and patient position. But when one begins with the preclinical lab to do a cavity prep on the typhodents, all that positioning lessons tend to go right out of the window. We often avoid correcting our chair positions, thinking that we'll work on the positioning once we get to practice the actual dentistry. Doesn't that happen with each one of us? The art of operator positioning is tough, and there are times where you can't satisfy your spine and your patient at the same time. Most dental professionals will have neck and back problems as these problems can get their start as early as dental school. Sadly, many people ignore the issue until it gets to a point where it is simply unbearable. This pain can become chronic 20 or 30 years down the road with not as much the awkward positions we contort our upper bodies into, but the length of time we hold them in that position. There's a real cost to this pain, too. Every year, a dentist spends a considerable part of their income when they must cancel patient appointments because of the pain that prevents them from working. That is why we all know how important it is to maintain and follow excellent dental ergonomics. Ergonomics in dentistry starts with supporting the body in a neutral position as much as possible. This means dental professionals should try to: Maintain an erect posture, rather than bending forward or leaning over the patient. Sit, rather than stand, for all clinical procedures. Work as close to the patient as possible to minimize the need to overextend the arms or back. Keep feet flat on the floor or the footrest of the stool. Adjust the stool height, so the thighs slope slightly downward. Evenly distribute weight in a tripod pattern through each foot on the floor and the buttocks. Consider using a loupe to minimize the need to perch on the edge of the stool to see into the intraoral cavity. Hold wrists in a neutral position and reduce excessive wrist movements. Avoid gripping instruments too tightly. Muscle imbalances are prevalent among dental professionals and can lead to neuromuscular, joint, and spine disorders. Chairside stretching is forceful to correct these imbalances, regain full range of motion, and prepare you for strengthening. Here's a picture showing some of the chairside stretchings for all the dental professionals. Along with excellent ergonomics, yoga also plays an essential role in dentistry. Improving posture is among the many great health benefits of yoga, so dental professionals should also practice yoga. Staying active and fit will help the longevity of your career. Some of the yoga poses that one can practice are: Mountain pose (Tadasana): Benefits: Improves posture, strengthens thighs, knees, ankles, increases awareness, firms, abdomen, and gluts, reduces flat feet. Tree Pose (Vrksasana): Benefits: Strengthens the spine, calves, thighs, ankles, stretches groin, chest, and shoulders, improves a sense of balance. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana): Benefits: Strengthens spine and soothes sciatica, relieves stress and fatigue, stretches chest, shoulders, and lungs (therapeutic for asthma), firm gluts. Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana): Benefits: Strengthens spine and abdominals help decompress lower spine, deep stretch of hips, ankles, thighs, shoulders, armpit, chest, deltoid, and triceps. Plank Pose (Phalakasana): Benefits: Strengthens wrists, arms, and spine, tones abs. Cat and Cow Pose (Marjaryasana and Bitilasana): Benefits: Cat: Stretches the back and neck, provides a gentle massage to the spine. Cow: Stretches the front and neck, gentle massage to spine.