Musculoskeletal disorders are frequently reported by practicing dental hygienists due to the physical demands placed on the body caused by poor ergonomics, repetitive motion, pinch force, and grasp.
Dental hygienists who reported MSD reduced the number of hours they worked, took time off from work, called in sick, considered changing careers, and even left clinical practice.
Therapies including massage, herbal supplements, chiropractic care, yoga, and acupuncture to reduce musculoskeletal pain. Dental hygienists are more likely to use a combination of these alternative therapies and conventional therapies to manage their MSD, although dental hygienists who use alternative therapies alone are less likely to temporarily quit work, experience improvement in musculoskeletal pain, and report higher career satisfaction.
Dental hygienists with MSD feel that alternative therapies are acceptable methods of pain management that should be covered by medical insurance, and they would use alternative methods to conventional medicine.
Yoga is a therapy that unites the body, mind, and spirit using breathing methods and a series of standing and seated postures. It is a mindful type of practice where individuals focus their breath and attention on proper alignment in order to gain the full benefits of each pose.
Pain reduction has been reported when individuals practiced yoga at least once a week for a minimum of 12 consecutive weeks. Yoga has also been shown to reduce stress and bring a sense of peace and well-being to the mind. Since yoga has been shown to reduce pain among the general population, serious consideration should be taken to incorporate yoga into the dental hygiene curriculum to prevent pain while in school and later in the career.
Authors: Aubreé M. Chismark, RDH, MS, is an assistant professor in the dental hygiene department at West Coast University in Anaheim, Calif., and is a member of the CDHA Journal Advisory Board. She is registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance (200- hours) and is currently working toward her 500-hour certification.
Diane Millar, RDH, MA, graduated from the West Los Angeles College dental hygiene program in 1981. Her career in dental hygiene has embraced working in private practice and teaching advanced instrumentation techniques at The University of Southern California, Cerritos College, and currently at West Coast University. She is a national speaker and is also the published author of "Reinforced Periodontal Instrumentation and Ergonomics for the Dental Care Provider."