When left handed clearly isn’t the best

left handed clinicianRohini Bansal explores the difficulties of practising as a left-handed clinician and what the future might look like in dentistry.

Are you a left-handed clinician or have you ever worked with one and noticed any differences?

Studies suggest that approximately only 10% of the world population is left handed.

A ‘left handlers club’, established in 1992, claims that we live in a world designed for right handers. Therefore, as the majority of the human population is right handed, worldwide products, work technology and general day to day equipment are invented to suit the right handed.

As a result left-handed products are much more difficult to come by.

What does this mean for dentistry?

Dentistry is a specialised field within healthcare. It requires a good level of manual dexterity and exceptional hand-eye coordination.

In order for us to deliver safe and comfortable treatment for our patients, there is a wide range of considerations to make.

The clinician and nurse should, in time, work synergistically. This will promote a safer and smoother course of dental treatment for the patient.

If the clinician is left handed, then both the clinician and nurse will need to adapt their positioning and direction of working so that they both practise their treatment correctly. This can sometimes feel unconventional. It can take time to perfect and work in tandem with one another. But once you’ve both found your feet with it – it’ll be smooth sailing.

Ergonomic challenges when you’re left handed

Research indicates that although dental instruments are ‘universal’, the final design is suited better for the right-handed clinician. Therefore the left-handed clinician would have to modify their natural usual and ‘normal’ way of working.

The question this imposes is; can that affect the overall performance?

Sometimes a change of positioning can seem abnormal for the patient. There have been various scenarios when my patients have bought this up.

We have to also ask ourselves if left handers face ergonomic challenges at work.

I like to make my patients aware, this builds stronger and natural rapport with one another.

Firstly I like to discuss and explain why the surgery and our positions may look different. But the adaptations taken place are necessary for myself and my nurse to work optimally.

Secondly, a quick moan to them on why dentistry and left handers just don’t pair well together.

My story

Starting out in my career I remember raising this point at interviews. It is definitely an overlooked topic that I feel is important to discuss.

Factors such as whether the surgery space is big enough to move things around, if the nurse is comfortable in learning how to work on the opposite side and if foot pedals can reach a certain distance are some of the valid points I have raised. You can manage other factors in surgery as you begin to grow your professional relationship with your nurse.

From a business point of view, a practice owner wants to build a successful dental team that is able to work effectively, individually and together.

I am fortunate to work in practices where dental technologies and equipment are adaptable. And with a growing team beside me I can work with ease in order to improve a patient’s overall dental care.

On a positive note

Research, studies and technology is ever growing. Dentistry is at the height of new inventions with dental facilities and products continually remodelled.

Left-handed clinicians must remain vigilant in their work. Do not compromise on comfort in the surgery or access to specific dental instruments. If you see red flags that require attention, as a clinician feel confident to approach the matter professionally.

In the end we all have the same goal for our patients. It is just our paths getting there can differ.

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