Properly positioning patients during dental procedures has a huge impact on both patient comfort and operator health. It has proven itself to be one of the most prominent contributors to the pain and strain felt in the spinal segments of an operator’s neck and back, as well as musculoskeletal issues associated with the hands and wrists.

Almost 75 percent of dentists and hygienists report symptoms of neck pain at some point in their career; 30 percent report symptoms on any given year, and 10 percent will be unable to treat for prolonged periods of time because of it. These symptoms can appear as early as the third year into a dental practice.

Back and wrist pain are also prominent in the dental community. Up to 60 percent of operators report significant back pain, and almost 70 percent report pain in their hands and wrists.

This accounts for a full 93 percent of dentists and hygienists reporting some type of continued musculoskeletal pain in one of the major regions of their upper body.

The Causes and Effects of Prolonged Musculoskeletal Issues

Improper patient positioning can lead to workplace practices whereby operators too heavily rely upon prolonged static and awkward postures, repetitive movements and inefficient practices.

When patients are not in an optimal position for an operator to have sustained visibility and access to treatment areas, operators often make up the difference by positioning themselves in such a way that puts too much strain on the segments of the neck (from C1 to C7). Maintaining these positions can also can contribute to weakening of the muscles of the neck, particularly those of the deep cervical flexor that control fine movements of the head.

These musculoskeletal issues can lead to:

  • A decrease in career longevity
  • Inability to treat more patients more frequently
  • Increases in pain and discomfort
  • More time taken off
  • Possible disability

Awkward Patient Positioning Leads to More than Operator Pain

Improper patient positioning also leads to increased stress and discomfort in patients. The discomfort felt while sitting in a dental chair can exacerbate phobias and feelings of anxiety in patients, and addressing this lack of comfort is a formidable task for dentists.

Proper patient positioning can address both of these problems and, when combined with products that help patients relax and operators work more easily, it can sometimes solve both issues altogether.

Patients who are comfortable are more likely to be returning customers, and dentists and hygienists who maintain optimal musculoskeletal health will be in a better position to accept more patients throughout the day. By simply adjusting the positioning of a patient, dentists can see an increase in business, staff health and customer retention.

Better Positioning for Better Treatment

Repositioning a patient’s head can greatly mitigate the musculoskeletal issues in dentists and create a better environment in which patients are more comfortable and happy. Something as simple as placing an ergonomic and comfortable headrest underneath a patient will allow dentists and staff to maintain a better posture throughout treatment. They are expertly designed, affordable and proven to work.

See our selection of headrests today.