Dental students offered help to deal with physical stresses of dentistry

dental studentsDental students in the USA are being offered physical therapy to help deal with the physical stresses caused by dentistry.

The Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC has teamed up with the university’s physical therapy programme.

It hopes to offer students lectures on how to deal with day-to-day stresses created when working in dentistry.

‘They (dental students) sometimes forget to adjust the patient to make their own bodies work more easily,’ Kenneth Kim, instructor of clinical physical therapy, said.

‘That means students can stay hunched over, in that position for hours, which causes neck and back pain.

‘We come in and make a small adjustment, which results in a huge outcome.’

Back pain

Lower back pain has been observed in over 70% of healthcare professionals, with dentists at highest risk of musculoskeletal issues.

In addition to lectures and hands-on help offered at USC, the programme also recommends the use of loupes.

It claims loupes allow dental professionals maintain a distance from the patient.

‘We see that throughout the years students in dental school don’t always take care of their posture while they perform procedures,’ Jin-Ho Phark, associate professor of clinical dentistry, said.

‘That’s hard on a body, especially considering students are working in the same position for eight hours a day.

‘With lenses on the loupes, you can’t really adjust them.

‘So there is a working length in which they have to position themselves.’

Mindful of posture

Dental students have been very receptive to any advice given, lecturers claim.

They now hope to expand the collaboration, with physical therapy students currently working in the dental school for five weeks.

‘For the first year, five weeks is pretty good,’ Kim said.

‘It takes three weeks to break a bad habit, like slouching or stooping.

‘With our presence, we can get them to be more mindful about their posture going forward.’

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