What is Ergonomics?

Patti Peters-Sittner, RDH

 

“Turn your head right a little.” “Now turn a little to the left.” “Can you bring your chin down some?” “Now I need you to bring your chin up.”

Have you ever wondered why during a dental visit you find yourself maneuvering your head and neck around so much? It’s all because of ergonomics.

What is ergonomics?

According to Merriam-Webster, “ergonomics is an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely”.

You are probably wondering, why do I need to know this when I go to the dentist? Poor ergonomics can lead to musculoskeletal disorders.

What is a musculoskeletal disorder (MSDs)?

Contemporary Clinical Dentistry states musculoskeletal disorders are disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage, or spinal discs which can also be work-related. Examples of MSDs from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are: carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, rotator cuff injuries (affects the shoulder), epicondylitis (affects the elbow), trigger finger; and muscle strains and low back injuries which are very common in the dental profession.

How do work-related musculoskeletal disorders occur?

The International Journal of Clinical Pediatric Dentistry states work-related musculoskeletal disorders occur in jobs that “require repetitive, forceful or prolonged exertions of the hands; frequent or heavy lifting, pushing or pulling, or carrying of heavy objects and prolonged awkward postures”. Now you might putting two and two together on how this relates to your favorite dentist, hygienist, dental assistant or front office staff at Alameda Dental Care. When your clinician is asking you to turn your head in a different direction, it helps us with proper ergonomics in order to avoid awkward positions and potential work-related MSDs. Musculoskeletal disorders don’t just affect dental professionals, OSHA lists professions in industries such as construction, food processing, firefighting, office jobs, healthcare, transportation, and warehousing all as professions with higher-risk for MSDs. Did you know that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says work-related MSDS are the most frequently reported causes of lost or restricted work time?

What can I do to improve my ergonomics and prevent potential musculoskeletal disorders?

The answer is simple: clean between your teeth daily with floss and brush at least twice a day for two minutes with an electric toothbrush! Okay, so that’s not the real answer but it would be great if you started or continued those healthy habits to maintain a healthier mouth which leads to a heathier you. Here are a few tips from Safety & Health magazine to help avoid ergonomic issues and keep your body working smoothly:

1) Ensure your chair is adjusted properly (whether it is work or home), feet should be touching the ground and make sure there is lower back support as well as arm support

2) Keep items you use regularly close by to avoid stretching unnecessarily

3) Position your wrist so that it is straight when typing on a computer

4) Avoid cradling your phone between your neck and shoulder, use a headset or speaker-phone instead

5) Pay attention to posture and like your momma said “don’t slouch and stand up straight”

Sources:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ergonomics

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3276858/

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/ergonomics/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4144062/

https://www.oralhealthgroup.com/features/musculoskeletal-disorders-and-the-impacts-on-the-dental-professional/

http://www.safetyandhealthmagazine.com/articles/13396-practice-proper-workplace-ergonomics

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Oh goodness, what do I do with my knocked-out tooth?

Sharma Mulqueen RDH

Oh goodness, what do I do with my knocked-out tooth?

A knocked-out tooth can be a surprise, but it can be more than that if you don’t take action quickly. A broken or chipped tooth can also constitute a dental emergency, but a knocked-out tooth demands an immediate appointment. The importance of caring for your tooth, handling your tooth after it’s been knocked out and cleaning it is very important to return it to its original position.

Handling the Tooth with Care

After you have noticed that one of your teeth has been knocked out of your mouth, the first step is to handle it with care. If you want your dentist to be able to salvage your natural tooth and quickly repair your oral health, you’ll need to handle the knocked-out tooth correctly. Make sure you don’t touch its root and instead handle it by its crown. If you touch the root, you might damage the tooth and minimize your chances of having it placed back in its socket.

Cleaning and Repositioning

If your tooth has been knocked into dirt, mud, covered in blood or the ground in general, it’s a good idea to clean it while you wait to see your emergency dentist. Start by rinsing your dislodged tooth with water. Remember hold it by the crown and avoid using soap to clean your tooth, and don’t dry it off when you’re done cleaning it either. If you replace your tooth quickly, you might be able to salvage it by inserting it into its original socket. Although, inserting it is not always successful, it is recommended to try and place it. If this is not possible, you’ll have to store it safely.

Storing and Visiting the Dentist

When you find yourself in need of emergency dental care but you cannot immediately see your dentist, you should store your tooth in milk or inside your mouth. Call one of our Signature Dental offices to get scheduled with the Dentist as soon as you can to maintain your oral health.

Sources:

www.deltadentalma.com

www.colgate.com

A Conversation About Plaque

Arianna Marsden, RDH

A Conversation About Plaque

Has your hygienist ever recommended that you brush twice daily?  I made this recommendation to a patient recently, and he informed me that because he brushed his teeth at night, he did not need to brush his teeth in the morning.  This patient asked me, “why would I need to brush my teeth in the morning?  I didn’t eat anything while I was sleeping, so my teeth are still clean.”

It became apparent to me that this patient had a misunderstanding of how plaque develops on his teeth, and I think that other people may have the same misconception about how plaque forms.  This patient and I were able to have an educational conversation about how plaque develops, and my patient was surprised to learn something new at the dentist.

So, first of all, what is plaque?  Plaque is the white, fuzzy stuff you feel on your teeth after not cleaning your teeth for a while.  This plaque is filled with bacteria that cause gum disease and cavities.  Seconds after a cleaning, whether from your hygienist or from brushing your own teeth, the plaque starts to come back.  It begins as a protein layer of slime that our mouths produce naturally, called the acquired pellicle.  Bacteria that are always present in our mouths bind to this pellicle and begin to colonize.  When bacteria colonize, they bind together into a film that you can see and feel on our teeth; the white fuzzy stuff we call plaque.  This plaque will form whether or not food is eaten.   It’s important to remove plaque about once every 12 hours, or twice per day, to help reduce the amount of bacteria present in our mouths, and to prevent cavities and gum disease.

During my conversation with my patient about how plaque is formed, we speculated about why he might have had a misunderstanding about plaque.  He asked me, “I thought you were supposed to brush after eating, because the food makes the plaque and the plaque gives you cavities.”  Part of this is true; brushing after meals does help to prevent cavities, but not for the reasons he initially thought.  The plaque that is already present uses the sugars in the foods we eat, and produces an acid, which is what causes the cavities.  By brushing after we eat, we remove the plaque so it doesn’t have the opportunity to produce acid; we also neutralize any acid that may have already been produced, thus preventing cavities.  We also discussed that removing, or disrupting plaque about once every twelve hours prevents the colonized plaque from mineralizing into calculus.  Calculus is the hard stuff that gets stuck on your teeth that you can’t brush off; it most commonly develops on the tongue side of lower front teeth.  This calculus, and the embedded bacteria, are one of the main causes of gum disease.  Calculus can’t be removed with a toothbrush, so it’s important to see your hygienist regularly for professional cleanings to remove the calculus deposits which have formed.

When my patient understood why brushing more than once per day would benefit his oral health, he expressed that he would consider brushing twice daily, and we would observe the results of his efforts at his next cleaning appointment.  Often times understanding why we do something is half the battle.

Sources: