An investigation of ergonomic interventions in dental hygiene work

Appl Ergon. 2002 Mar;33(2):175-84. doi: 10.1016/s0003-6870(01)00060-6.


Alternative methods for viewing teeth while performing simulated dental procedures were investigated. The methods allowed participants to assume postures requiring less neck flexion than the standard direct view. One alternative used a video camera and monitor to view the mouth, the other incorporated 90 degrees prism glasses. The study was conducted in two parts: (1) novice participants performing a targeting task; (2) dental hygienists performing a scaling task on a mouth model. Posture and subjective perceptions were assessed in Parts 1 and 2. Muscle activity and performance were also assessed in Part 1. The alternative methods significantly reduced muscle activity, neck flexion, and discomfort, compared to the direct view. Preferences were a function of criteria (general, comfort, productivity, or accuracy). Previously, recommendations for reducing ergonomic risk factor exposure of dental professionals emphasized reducing time spent performing dental procedures. This study shows ergonomic interventions offer alternative means of risk exposure reduction.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Dental Hygienists*
  • Electromyography
  • Equipment Design
  • Ergonomics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Posture
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • United States