Practicing dentistry can wreak mental and physical havoc on clinicians. According to Business Insider, dental practitioner tops out the list of “The 27 jobs that are most damaging to your health.” Among the biggest health risks are excessive time spent sitting, exposure to bloodborne pathogens such as hepatitis and HIV, and exposure to hazardous chemicals and artificial lights in the dental practice.
Dentistry also requires a lot of repetitive motions such as reaching, gripping and twisting. These ergonomic nightmares can lead to tendinitis, rotator cuff injuries, epicondylitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger (yes, it’s a thing), and various other musculoskeletal disorders. Finally, your office environment and décor can adversely affect your mood and productivity. But you don’t have to simply accept your fate and succumb to these dangers and deficiencies. There are many things you can do to make your practice more comfortable, pleasant and safe.
According to world-renowned color psychologist Angela Wright, the colors you choose for your interior directly affect your emotions and well-being. For example, blue stimulates clear thought, yellow boosts creativity, red elevates your pulse and green creates calm. Bright colors stimulate, while softer, muted colors relax. If you can’t change the interior color of your entire practice, try adding counter accessories and products in colors that best suit your needs and goals.
According to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, artificial light can have detrimental health and psychological effects on people, while natural light significantly increases energy, creativity and productivity. If your operatory or reception area is flooded with fluorescent lighting, consider investing in a lamp that imitates natural light. Also remember to keep windows and skylights clean for maximum light intake.
Aromatherapy isn’t just for spa treatments. Soothing scents can be introduced to dental practices to help calm the mind, balance the mood, and enhance productivity and concentration. You can create a DIY aromatherapy experience by mixing water and a few drops of essential oil in a spray bottle and misting it around your workspace. It will certainly smell better than tooth dust.
Putting a small potted plant on your desk or in your operatory is one of the easiest ways to improve practice atmosphere. Plants help freshen the air by removing pollutants and bacteria, according to a study by NASA. Not only that, they’re nice to look at.
A recent study from Cornell University suggests that cool temperatures are not ideal for work environments. It found that workers made more mistakes and were less productive in offices that were set to 68 degrees. However, their work improved dramatically when the temperature was increased to 77 degrees.
Good ergonomics can prevent musculoskeletal disorders and alleviate their painful symptoms. Fortunately, improving your posture doesn’t require a major investment, but rather a rethinking of the way you do your work and position yourself. Whether you’re a dentist, hygienist or assistant, proper positioning can dramatically improve your success and your health, as well as add years to your career. You should also consider adopting new technologies and equipment designed to increase your comfort and productivity.
There’s no reason to be a victim of your practice environment. With just a few simple adjustments, you can dramatically transform your workspace so that it improves your health, mood and overall well-being.