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Clinical dentistry is physically demanding in some very specific ways. Backs, necks, shoulders, wrists and hands that for some reason are vulnerable to injury may be challenged by a combination of position, repetitive motion, stress, and even leisure activities.

  • How can you protect yourself from muscle strain, pain, and actual injury?
  • How can you have some confidence you’re practicing dentistry in the ergonomically best way for you?
  • How can you assess your personal conditioning needs at different stages of your life?
  • What should you look for in an ergonomics consultant?

Fitness and Conditioning

Being in good condition is critical—but what does this specifically mean for a dentist? Consider an annual fitness assessment with a personal trainer, much like you have an annual physical, to review your fitness needs and program.

The Mayo Clinic’s online Fitness Center has a wealth of information about fitness, conditioning and strength training. Access it at

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Information About Musculoskeletal Disorders

Helpful Hints

The following information provides brief explanations of how ergonomic adaptations can be used in dealing with common musculoskeletal pain and other physical problems in practice. The tip sheets were developed by the ADA and are intended to give a basic overview of ergonomic principles. The success stories are first-hand accounts of how members of the dental team have successfully put ergonomic principles to work for themselves.

A great deal of good information is easily available on the Internet. Here is a sample of what is available from the Mayo Clinic about common musculoskeletal disorders:

The National Library of Medicine indexes thousands of medical and life science journals.

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Safety/Ergo Tips in the Dental Practice

Safety in the Dental Practice/Ergo Tip Sheet: Hearing Loss(pdf)

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ADA/OSHA Alliance and OSHA Resources

The ADA is one of many associations and organizations that have signed voluntary agreements with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to share information on ergonomic issues.

At the official signing of the renewal agreement on May 19, 2006, ADA President Bob Brandjord noted:

"The ADA is very supportive of the alliance agreement with OSHA because it provides an effective means of collaborating on ergonomics matters that both the agency and organized dentistry view as important to the health and well being of dentists and their staff.”

For more information, see the OSHA Alliance Web site , ADA-OSHA Alliance Web page and Oral Health Topic: ADA/OSHA Alliance.

Get more Information about what OSHA standards apply to dentists, workplace hazards, and additional information.

ADA CELL Seminar Series Programs on Ergonomics

The ADA CELL Seminar Series presents, Ergonomics in the High Performance Practice and Creating a High Performance Practice(?) by David J. Ahearn, DDS and How Ergonomics and Efficiency Impact Your Practice(?) by Mary M. Govoni, CDA, RDH, MBA. For additional information or how to arrange an ADA seminar or to discuss seminar options, please contact the ADA at the toll free number, extension 2908, or 312-440-2908. ADA members may also complete the seminar services request form.

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Additional information

An Introduction to Ergonomics: Risk Factors, MSDs, Approaches and Interventions is a review published by the ADA’s Council on Dental Practice, of ergonomic risk factors in dentistry, the various types of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), and practical approaches to ergonomic issues in the dental workplace. The paper is intended only to provide general background information on these issues. It contains an extensive bibliography.

Journal of the American Dental Association

Other Organizations with Resources on Ergonomics

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