Through: Amber Auger, RDH
Near my heart is helping hygienists have healthier, happier careers, and I believe it starts with an honest assessment of our health. It’s hard to find pleasure at work when dealing with back pain, and unfortunately most hygienists report chronic pain.
Previously I have shared my experience in a small historic office with outdated equipment and an unrealistic hygiene schedule. It has taken its toll on my body. It didn’t take me long to realize that my plan to “grin and bear it” disappointed me.
Preventing back pain as a dentist
You make more from your career than spending your free time trying to recover. So what can be done?
We start with a series of steps you can take, from tools to personal care, to improve your career and quality of life, both inside and outside work.
Straighten your posture
Starting with the basics is ergonomics. When we talk about pain at work, work posture is usually at the forefront of the conversation. If you don’t sit correctly, your spine, hips, shoulders and ribs will be twisted and misaligned, causing health problems.
A strong, healthy posture ensures good circulation, deep breathing, better digestion, clearer thinking, a better mood, protection against injuries and better stamina.
When the spine is misaligned, blood flow is restricted, muscles tire quickly, waste products are not effectively eliminated, oxygen is not optimally delivered to the tissues, and the body’s energy stagnates and becomes blocked.
Over time, poor posture can damage the spinal discs, weaken muscles, exacerbate headaches, weaken digestion, restrict breathing, and turn our mood into one of dejection and uncertainty.
Our posture is so important that it can cause physical pain and even affect our emotional well-being. When we are sad, we naturally tend to withdraw and sink. However, the reverse is also true, known as embodied cognition.
Embodied cognition is the influence of our body on our mind. Researchers When we lean forward, this posture tells our brain that we are sad and our thoughts become increasingly pessimistic.
And if we don’t sit nicely straight with a healthy curve in our spine, our lungs and diaphragm can’t fully expand and contract as intended. This leads to poor shallow breathing which causes a host of complications. The quality of our breathing is so crucial that we will explore the impact of our breathing in a future article.
How to improve your posture
Our ideal working position is with an athletic stance, with hips above the knees and the pelvis tilted slightly forward to support the natural S-curve of our spine.
Many aids can help you maintain this ideal position. Loupes help maintain a healthy working distance. Good lighting will help prevent us from bending over to look better, and a high-quality stool will stimulate your sit bones and lower back to maintain the ideal working position.
A stool can be an overlooked device to support our need for a healthier work environment, but a quality stool ensures good blood flow to all limbs. It should tilt the pelvis forward and provide lumbar support to encourage the natural S-shape of our spine.
The revolutionary A-Dec dental stool
Even when we wear our loupes, dentistry requires us to lean forward and tilt our heads at a steeper angle than when working in front of a computer. This required posture is strenuous on the body, so a crutch with proper support should not be overlooked. Your stools should be specifically designed for the posture and movements that are unique to dentistry.
A-dec is such a crutch. They have been researching correct ergonomics in dentistry for years and have specially developed a stool to support dental professionals in maintaining the ideal working position.
Unlike many other stools, A-Dec is designed to conform to your body to tilt your pelvis into proper alignment, while maintaining softness to encourage healthy blood flow to the legs and feet. A-Dec hugs your body to give your lumbar and buttocks the support it needs, while not restricting your movement.
We have learned not to sink and to sit up straight. But the reality is that it is usually not that simple. If you’re slouching at work, you should investigate Why and correct it.
Perhaps when you bend over you have trouble seeing and would benefit from better lighting or loupes, or need the support to retrain your muscles to assume a more upright posture.
Years of bad posture will condition and weaken our muscles. A quality stool may be just what you need to turn it around and give you the help and support for a straighter, healthier back with less fatigue at work.
photo by Karolina Grabowskac
Next one: How to calm patients with dental anxiety?