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31 May 2015 | Auxiliary

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Improved ergonomics for the dental team


Dentist and advocate for improved occupational health among dental professionals, Dr Anikó Ball, has presented a workshop on "Optimum Dental Posture" to dental hygienists and assistants in A-dec's brand new Melbourne showroom.

After experiencing crippling pain and loss of feeling in her arm as a result of a work-related injury that almost prematurely ended her own dental career, Dr Ball is passionate about improving the ergonomic wellbeing of dental professionals.

Dr Ball was a speaker at the ADC15 Dental Congress in Brisbane earlier this year and has speaking engagements at national and international dental events as a result of her studies into the Alexander technique and how balancing "inner ergonomics" and "outer ergonomics" through correct posture and using equipment properly can avoid work-related pain and potential injury.

The Melbourne workshop, hosted by A-dec, included practical sessions on correct seating and working positions using actual dental equipment in surgery settings and exercises aimed at correcting musculoskeletal disorders and muscle soreness.

Dr Ball hopes to spread the message of maintaining optimum dental posture to as many dental professionals as possible to help them head off a lifetime of discomfort, potential injury and shortened working careers.

Dr Ball said she endured decades of pain and was faced with giving up dentistry altogether purely as a result of the pain and numbness in her arm caused by all the unnatural twisting and bending, exacerbated even further by poorly designed dental equipment.

After failing to find a "cure" through conventional medical channels, Dr Ball came across an Alexander Technique practitioner who she said provided a revelation in terms of working with your own body to correct occupationally related musculoskeletal problems.

Dr Ball has since embarked on intensive training in the Alexander Technique including scientific study of musculoskeletal conditions and has also conducted her own evidence-based studies into the prevalence of these conditions within the dental profession in Australia.

She explained that poor work positions caused "cumulative trauma" to the muscles, ligaments and spine. These in turn cause distortions to the natural position of the body, resulting in pain and fatigue.

However, by being aware of how to position the body by sitting correctly on properly adjusted dental stools and chairs, holding the head and neck in proper alignment and using avoiding unnatural movements, the pain could be avoided and in many cases overcome completely.

According to Dr Ball, it was a case of being aware of these bad habits and developing new habits, while also choosing ergonomically-designed dental equipment and instruments that allowed operators to maintain a healthy working position while performing dental procedures.

Dr Ball was assisted in her workshop by A-dec Territory Managers, Bruce and Scott Williams, who provided equipment at the company's recently opened Hawthorn showroom for the use of workshop participants and by Glenda Cowly of "Fill the Gap" locum service, Melbourne.

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