PDF: Ergonomics and posture guidelines for oral health professionals - FDI

The International Ergonomics Association (IEA) defines ergonomics (or human factors) as “the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of the interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theoretical principles, data and methods to design, in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.”

During a conventional dental treatment, the dentist often bends over the patient to achieve the most accurate treatment possible. However, bending often leads to an unnatural, harmful posture that negatively impacts the dentist’s health. 

Ergonomics in dentistry should strike a balance between keeping the dentist healthy and providing efficient treatment.

Ergonomics in dentistry means preventing musculoskeletal problems by enabling the dentist to adopt a more natural and comfortable posture, achieving patient-friendly treatment, improving treatment efficiency, and achieving treatment accuracy. 


The dark and narrow space in the oral cavity can cause oral health professionals (OHPs) to adopt an unnatural posture during dental treatment, which can lead to serious physical impact and repetitive strain injuries. 

The potential to develop musculoskeletal disorders is higher when one disregards good ergonomic principles. In doing so, OHPs are at risk of compromising their technical expertise during procedures. 

This can lead to a limitation of certain procedures, potential career shortening, and, in the worst case, possible career-ending injuries. The surveys below show that the main complaints are neck and lower back pain. 

These issues develop over a number of years and worsen with a heavy workload. It has also been noted that female dentists appear to have a higher incidence of upper body complaints than their male counterparts. 

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