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Dental Hygiene Newswire

News and research for Ontario dental hygienists

Prevention and rehabilitation of musculoskeletal disorders in dental professionals: A systematic review

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are a common occupational hazard for dental professionals. The nature of the work requires repetitive motion of the arms, wrists, and hands. Tasks requiring repeated high hand forces applied at the fingertips and prolonged awkward postures generate significant biomechanical stress, which can promote injuries of the distal upper extremities (e.g., carpal tunnel syndrome).

This systematic review aimed to identify the current consensus on preventive and rehabilitative interventions for MSDs in dental professionals.


A total of 3,571 unique abstracts were identified and screened, 256 full-text articles were assessed for eligibility, and 34 articles were included in the review. Seventeen experimental studies described the results of preventive or rehabilitation interventions, and seventeen survey research studies predicted or correlated preventive/protective techniques to reduce musculoskeletal symptoms. The primary methods evaluated in the studies included equipment modification, ergonomic training, and physical exercise.

Practical implications

Current evidence suggests magnification loupes and indirect-vision techniques have a positive effect on the reduction of musculoskeletal symptoms. Other techniques have mixed evidence or are limited by low level study design in evaluating intervention efficacy.


This systematic review demonstrated the lack of evidence in preventive and rehabilitative care related to dental professionals. Robust research is lacking to support any of the three categories of interventions (physical activity, ergonomic training, and equipment modification). Given the high prevalence of MSDs in dental professionals and considering these problems may begin to develop during the education process, early intervention is crucial for the prevention and/or treatment of these disorders. Further interventional research should be conducted to provide sufficient support for dental professionals.

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