Knowledge and skill are crucial to your role as an oral healthcare provider - but if you don't have the right tools available to you, knowledge and skill won't be enough.
The wrong dental handpiece will hinder even the most reliable hygienist or dentist, causing fatigue and leading to drawn-out procedure times.
Only by equipping each member of the team with the appropriate handpiece can you overcome these obstacles.
Your handpiece is crucial to your success. By choosing the right dental handpiece, you can eliminate fatigue, decrease procedure times, increase patient satisfaction, and see more patients per workday.
The Wrong Handpiece Causes Fatigue and Musculoskeletal Problems
As a dentist or dental hygienist, you are susceptible to certain musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as carpal tunnel. Dental practitioners are cited as being on the list of professionals most susceptible to MSD-based conditions, including:
Since working with dental handpieces necessitates contorting arms and hands over extended periods, it’s one of the aspects of your job conducive to MSDs. Therefore, it’s absolutely critical to find a handpiece that mitigates the strain by finding an ergonomic handpiece.
Specifically, it’s best to avoid heavy handpieces, which become painful after long stretches of usage. That strain accumulates over time, slowly breaking down the bodies of industry professionals, often leading to early retirement.
The Value of An Ergonomic Handpiece
A lighter handpiece improves ergonomics immediately, reducing fatigue, improving hand lineage, and even bettering your vision. This steady stream of advantages leads to higher levels of comfort and substantially superior clinical performance.
What To Look For in an Ergonomic Handpiece
While high speed handpieces have always been lightweight (at 3 ounces), slower handpieces meant for polishing have typically weighed in at 0.5 pounds. Such heaviness is tough enough for any dental professional, but clinicians with small hands are particularly at risk.
Nowadays, there’s been a shift in how polishing-focused handpieces are built, with evenly distributed weight being a primary feature. This evolution has led to polishing handpieces weighing in at 3 ounces, similar to the high speed makes.
2. Hand Size and Balance
Just as a large, heavy handpiece won’t suit a petite practitioner, a smaller handpiece wouldn’t work for more sizable clinicians with large hands.
Furthermore, the old-fashioned, slower handpieces have heavy motors at one end. This design forces the clinician to leverage the added weight throughout procedures to maintain handpiece balance.
Over time, this increased workload leads to injuries from repetitive stress and fatigue. Vulnerability is particularly present in the muscles and nerves of the hands and forearms.
A critical factor you must consider with your handpiece is noise and its impact on your patients’ experiences.
Dental drills are a common source of patient anxiety and unease. Even the most compliant, easy-going patient can become uncooperative due to this equipment’s high-pitched whine.
You’ve probably seen the signs first hand – a patient who has buried their chin into their chest and tensed their facial muscle. At this point, it’s challenging to even execute the most basic of tasks that you’d usually be able to perform in your sleep.
These tensions don’t make your job any easier, adding to your ergonomic strife.
While the discomfort suffered by your patient might be unavoidable, they still require the best care possible. You don’t need the high-pitch sounds being a distraction to you as well. It, therefore, will be beneficial to equip team members with custom-made earplugs to block out the noise.
This way, even when patients are struggling, they’ll receive the care they deserve.
The Economic Advantages of Sound Ergonomics
Having the right dental handpiece in your practice allows everyone to perform their job better and more efficiently.
Fatigue and pain will be limited, so your team can see more patients since they won’t be tired and sore. Plus, the higher quality equipment ensures that work is done faster, creating room in the schedule for more patients.
Additionally, the work performed with the superior equipment will be of higher quality, thereby encouraging more patients to come to your practice. And more patients means more revenue.
Investing in high-quality ergonomic handpieces also extends the career – and earning potential–of your team of practitioners, so everybody makes more money in the long run.