Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) are a real concern for many professionals who utilise delicate hand tools daily in repeated motions. Dental professionals seem to be plagued by RSI more than others due to the repetition of motion through performing standard, day-to-day dental procedures on patients. RSI occurs when the repetition is so severe that the body can’t repair itself before more damage occurs. Dental Depot is here in our capacity as the dental equipment experts to help dentists ensure they prevent the onset of RSI and reduce its impact.
What are the symptoms of RSI?
If you’ve ever felt symptoms such as sharp pains, dull aches, tingling, and numbness, it’s likely RSI. Initially, the pain will only be present during the activity that aggravates it, but with no rest or treatment, constant pain will be the result. Since dentistry only requires movement from the hands, wrists and forearms, this is usually the area in which physicians find they are susceptible to RSI injury. Since most dental procedures require the use of a handpiece, changing to a different handpiece with an optimally ergonomic design can make all of the difference.
A high-speed turbine on an average airline is usually lightweight. The optimal weight range for high-speed handpieces is around 55 grams or under. Slow-speed handpieces are often considerably heavier. A heavier motor and hose combination creates more weight at the back of the handpiece, which can strain the hand and wrist.
Technology has advanced, and now brushless motors are much lighter and more robust than their counterparts, which when used with smaller handpieces reduces the weight significantly. More modern electric hoses are much lighter and flexible these days, which means that even upgrading the hose on an older unit can bring reprieve from strains.
A wider grip on the handpiece’s sleeve means that the handpiece can be held in a more comfortable position, for longer periods of time. The wider the sleeve, the smaller the ‘pinch grip’, which is a well-known risk for RSI. Texture makes a big difference too. The handle should be non-slip, even when water and gloves are involved. Non-slip titanium is also incredibly lightweight, making the handpiece much easier and more comfortable to use.
While larger handpieces may be suitable for male dentists, smaller females may require smaller handpieces, due to the hand size to weight ratio. Along with the advancements in brushless motor technology, manufacturers now offer shorter, lighter handpieces that are available in multiple speed options. A shorter length means that the motor can be held closer to the pivot point in smaller hands. Again, ‘drag effect’ is a common cause for RSI and improved ergonomics will reduce the likelihood of this significantly.
Not only are brushless motors more robust and lighter than motors which require brushes to operate, but output speed is also improved without the need for a larger handpiece. Many dentists have stated that changing from an older handpiece to a newer unit with 23 watts or above made a world of difference to everyday fatigue. Check out our line of handpieces here!
Dental Depot is a leading specialist in dental equipment, proudly servicing Brisbane and surrounding suburbs. We offer repairs, servicing, training and ongoing support post-purchase. Our full range of products can be viewed here. Contact us today!