A pain in the back

Nick Olive discusses better dental equipment to help ease your back pain, improve your health and extend the length of your career in dentistry

Anyone who has suffered with back pain will tell you it is pretty miserable. It can affect your work, sleep and family life to such an extent that even basic tasks can become a struggle. Just over 70% of healthcare professionals suffer with lower back pain during their career (Medeni et al, 2017).

Over the years, practising dentistry can take its toll; not just affecting the lower back, but also the spine, muscles, ligaments and nerves in the neck, back and limbs. Left untreated, the pain can become increasingly severe, debilitating and even career-ending.

One of the things you can do to prevent the aches, pains and extreme discomfort associated with musculoskeletal disorders is to invest in truly supportive and ergonomic dental equipment. Practitioner health and ease of use have been key considerations for A-dec when developing its A-dec 500 dental chair.

A thin, flexible backrest and with slim upholstery and a cut-away baseplate are essential for you to get in close and work in a comfortable position – legs under your patient, elbows at your side. A lightweight and smooth delivery system is necessary for easy and precise placement.

Drift control is also an important consideration – if you are in the middle of a procedure, the last thing you need is your instruments and materials drifting away from you. Choose a delivery system you know will stay put to avoid disruptive situations and eliminate excess strain on the spine from repeated reaching and lunging for the delivery system.

If you prefer a continental delivery system, test your options thoroughly before committing to buy. Make sure the one you choose has good range of motion and arms that balance the tubing weight to reduce in-procedure resistance and fatigue.

A positionable touchpad that tilts and rotates for precise viewing from multiple angles can also be beneficial to reduce neck and eye strain.

While the A-dec 500 has been developed to help dentists work more ergonomically, the patient experience has also been a clear consideration throughout the design.

The chair is moulded to fit the patient like a glove, keeping them comfortable and secure up to a weight capacity of 500lbs (227kg), although the chair has been successfully tested up to 2000lbs (907kg). A rigid frame absorbs movement and optimises stability, while a powerful hydraulic cylinder guarantees smooth transitions with a 10-year warranty.

Musculoskeletal disorders

Of course, being able to get close to your patient and work ergonomically doesn’t solve all issues; especially those associated with poor posture. Over the years, practising dentistry can take its toll. What you may not know is the design of your dental stool can have a direct impact on how your back feels at the end of each working day.

Musculoskeletal disorders, particularly ischemia and premature disc degeneration, have been connected to how we have been taught to sit; with thighs parallel to the floor and hips at a 90° angle. This is probably a legacy of the flat, nonadjustable seats of early dental stool designs.

Research by a physical therapist for Dental Economics found that positioning the hips higher than the knees (for an increased hip angle) reduced lower-back muscle activity and disc pressure. Chairs with a tilting seat were recommended to maintain the natural curve of the lower back. This type of seat design decreased pressure on discs, allowing closer positioning to the patient, while reducing lower back pain overall.

If your stool is causing you aches and pains, it may be worth considering a more ergonomic solution. Invest in equipment that make you and your staff comfortable.

A dental stool that promotes healthy posture will provide adjustability, sufficient back and seat support, and dynamic performance.

The A-dec 500 dental stool is specifically designed to flex, form and adjust to your every move, for all-day comfort and support.

Created with unique performance zones, the tilting seat section and backrest of the stools flex to the shape of the body, keeping you supported as you shift, lean and work.

The contoured backrest cradles the spine to alleviate pressure, while a tilted seat distributes weight from seat to feet, encouraging blood flow and promoting circulation.

Whether you’ve just started to notice the occasional ache, or you’re feeling it every day, better dental equipment could ease your back pain, improve your health and extend the length of your career in dentistry.

If you are suffering from minor back pain or even a severe musculoskeletal disorder, contact A-dec for a free two-week trial on their dental stools.


Ö Çınar-Medeni, B Elbasan, I Duzgun (2017) Low back pain prevalence in healthcare professionals and identification of factors affecting low back pain. J Back Musculoskelet Rehabi 30(3): 451-459

For more details about the A-dec 500 dental chair and delivery system, call 0800 233 285 or email [email protected]

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