Impact of poor dental ergonomical practice.SADJ. 2011 Jul; 66(6):272, 274-7.SADJ
Dentistry is a high risk profession for the development of musculoskeletal disorders as it is characterised by visual demands which require the adoption of static working posture. Headaches and vertebral pain has been positively correlated to poor ergonomic working posture adopted by dentists. The aim of this study was to examine the work posture adopted by dentists in the metropolitan region of Durban and Verulam in the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, as well as to report on the prevalence of musculoskeletal pain and discomfort experienced by this cohort. A descriptive survey was conducted among 94 dentists, who voluntarily consented to participate in an occupational, epidemiological retrospective study. Subjects' biographical, occupational, epidemiological and exercise history information was collected by using a self-report questionnaire. All dentists in the metropolitan region of Durban and Verulam were contacted telephonically and those volunteering to participate in the study were subsequently interviewed. During the interview, subjects' body mass and stature were measured using a portable Detecto stadiometer scale. Subjects' waist and hip girths were measured using an anthropometric tape measure around their anterior sacro-iliac crest (waist) and their greater trochanter (hip). In addition to collecting the anthropometric data, the dentists completed a self-report questionnaire and informed consent form. Descriptive statistics comprising of mode, mean, frequency, percentages and chi-square tests (with the probability set at 0.05) were employed in the statistical analysis. The results indicated the preference of different work postures and positions adopted by dentists that contributed to the prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal pain and discomfort (prevalence of 54.26%). The most prevalent work-related musculoskeletal pain sustained by dentists was the vertebrae (49.32%), wrist (18.75%), shoulder (16.66%) and lower leg (12.5%). The mechanism of the musculoskeletal pain was attributed to the poor ergonomic work posture and work position adopted by dentists in relation to their patients. It is concluded that vertebral musculoskeletal pain is most prevalent among dentists practicing in the metropolitan region of Durban and Verulam.