Ergonomics & Dental Posture

Ergonomics is the study of people's efficiency in their working environment. Dental Ergonomic research and design have focused on the working environment – the Outer Ergonomics, overlooking the importance of the dental operator’s efficiency in posture and movement - the Inner Ergonomics.

How the dental operator sits on a stool and bends over the chair is as important as the stool and chair design. The way instruments are held is as important as the shape and weight of the instrument.

 

Dental equipment, devices and cars come with a user guide. Drivers know that speeding down the freeway in first gear at a 100 km/hour is the wrong gear choice, and the consequence would be engine damage and an expensive repair bill. Driving in the correct gear co-operates with the car’s mechanical design.

The human body does not come with a user guide and yet there are fundamental biomechanical design principles governing movement. Without inner ergonomic guidance, clinicians are literally driving themselves in the wrong gear.

When posture and movement patterns are not co-operating with biomechanical design cumulative trauma occurs. Soft tissue damage develops when clinicians practise dentistry with less than optimal postures; twisting and bending the neck and torso, compressing the spine, using muscles and joints inefficiently. Such damage builds up over time, resulting in musculoskeletal disorders. This is the reason why there is such a high incidence of chronic pain in the dental profession.

 

Work postures contrary to biomechanical design

Work postures contrary to biomechanical design

Co-operating with design

Co-operating with design

The Alexander Technique & Dental Posture

Optimum Dental Posture Programs offer the “User Guide” for optimum posture and movement patterns during clinical dentistry, teaching the Inner Ergonomic Principles of the Alexander Technique translated into industry specific and practical applications for dentistry.

The Alexander Technique is a cause oriented, evidence based kinaesthetic method for recovery and prevention of work related musculoskeletal disorders. It is a re-education of basic co-ordination patterns underlying all movement.

Incorporating the Alexander Principles in posture and movement will enable clinicians to take control of their musculoskeletal health. 

Acquiring knowledge and skills for the recognition and replacement of harmful habitual movement and posture patterns in co-operation with biomechanical design is the pathway to long and productive dental careers, and improved quality of life.

View an annotated bibliography of research studies involving the Alexander Technique, provided by the American Society for the Alexander Technique.

Recommended Reading:
“The Alexander Technique Manual” by Richard Brennan.
View the book online here.