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Are you sitting comfortably?

in Your Health

Are you sitting comfortably?

You may think it unusual to be reading an article written by a chiropractor however, for the last 15 years I have been associated with the dental profession in various ways.

Professionally, I have spoken with and taught various foundation groups in the North of England and even the occasional general dental practitioner group. I have treated Dentists in my own clinic, and have friends who are Dentists. This has led to a host of discussions (sometimes I’ll admit to being a bit overly passionate on my soapbox) about health and the overall lack of awareness within your profession. 

Please excuse me for generalising, but as a successful group of professionals, you tend to spend your days (long ones at that) in the most awkward positions. Bending around your client who is relatively comfortable. You work long hours, and devote yourselves to building a successful practice.  This usually leads to someone like me having to address the nastiest of mechanical problems at some stage in your career. Disc problems and mechanical imbalance seem to be very popular. Ligament creep and chronic muscular imbalance ultimately lead to an unstable body structure. 

You financially plan the success and protection for your practices and family futures but never seem to address the physical vessel (your body) in which to achieve this. We are brought up in a society which prizes physical health and strength but paradoxically doesn’t focus on prevention of problems.

If I had to pick one aspect of health to address and improve overall health within the Dental profession, it would be the physical area in which you work. Beside the fact you are working inside their mouth doing sometimes frightening and uncomfortable procedures, most of your clients are very happy and relaxed during their appointments. Listening to music (and in some cases watching TV) while you get on with your work. You however are twisting around to get the best view, trying to work the controls on the wonderful treatment chair while balancing on your stool. Once you have found the most physically uncomfortable and awkward position – you hold yourself there for the duration of the appointment. I’d like to suggest some very simple things you can do to change the physical stress you are under. 

Get yourself a comfortable chair that supports your body while you work or even learn to work from a standing position.
Get yourself in the ideal/most comfortable position – and then move the client to suit you! It’s a simple thing to do. Use your treatment chair to its full advantage. Your client is in the chair for a short amount of time, you will be planning to work in your chosen profession for years.
Enlist help. You work with a nurse. Why not ask them to look at your posture and remind you (gently I’m hoping) to straighten up, relax your shoulders and look after yourself. Go on… make it fun!
Dust off those loupes! A large number of Dentists I’ve spoken to over the years have a set of loupes. Usually in a drawer. Get them out and work with them. They force you to sit up straight rather than bending over your clients’ mouth. It takes some practice, and I’m sure you’ll be cursing them initially however your neck and back will thank you for it.
Look after your body. Exercise to keep the muscles balanced and flexible. See a Chiropractor (naturally!) to keep you mechanically working as best as you can, and take regular breaks in your day.

Some of these suggestions will require a bit of patience and practice. Some of you may have to initially increase your appointment times until you get used to doing things differently, but you’ll get better with time. Your body will thank you for it (as will your Chiropractor!) and you will be insuring and ensuring the longevity of your professional life.

Estelle Zauner-Maughan

Dental Protection is the leading indemnity provider.
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