Dental professionals are exposed to several occupational risk factors that can lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). Biomechanical and physiological changes due to prolonged static postures, such as sitting, can lead to MSDs resulting in reduced work time or a career ending disability. Although literature of 60 years continues to cite this occupational problem through 2010, the scientific knowledge in biomechanics, kinesiology and occupational health has not been adequately translated into dental or dental hygiene practice. Suggestions to “find a neutral sitting position,” “maintain a neutral posture,” “keep the back straight” or “keeping the head fairly straight,” may be ambiguous and attempts to assume such positions may result in further discomfort or injury.

This course is designed to educate dental professionals about efficient sitting positions and movements that assist with minimizing occupational pain and/or injury. As part of this course, we will examine why many practitioners need to change how they sit, discuss common postures/habits that contribute to lifelong pain and the consequences of not changing. A review of the anatomy and the various pathologies associated with static positioning and poor posture will be presented. Proper alignment for postural control will be reviewed through video clip demonstrations, as will a sampling of stretches and strengthening routines that target various body regions. Many of these can be incorporated into daily practice routines during frequent short breaks to minimize stress to pain sensitive tissues.