When someone is thinking of dental ergonomic equipment, many different pieces come to mind: operator and patient chairs, loupes, instruments, handpieces, and operatory design just to name a few. But there is one that is THE most important of all, and it’s free! Your mind!
Mindset is the most important thing to have when it comes to practicing ergonomically and safely in the dental profession. Before we enter the op, it is crucial for us to put the health of our bodies first. After all, we only have this one body to last us our entire lifetime and we would like to keep it healthy and strong. So, before entering the op and focusing all your attention on your patient, decide first how you are going to care for your body while providing care.
Are you going to position the patient correctly depending on which arch or area is being treated? Are you going to take a short 30-second stretch every 20 minutes to reduce fatigue and encourage blood flow to overworked muscles? Are you going to stay at 12 o’clock to promote a neutral posture?
Your thoughts may even extend beyond the operatory. You may think, “how do I want to feel later today? Do I want to do an activity after work or will I need to go home and rest my aching back?” These types of questions may aid you in adopting this new mindset of putting yourself first and taking the time to practice more ergonomically.
In dentistry, we are caretakers and tend to put the needs of others ahead of our own. But I encourage you to think of what YOU want and need to be not only physically safe but mentally and emotionally fulfilled as well.