-Dr. Bethany Valachi-
One of the primary reasons I see my students and clinicians contorting over the patient is due to poor control of the occlusal plane when treating the upper arch. This is Step 3 of my 10-Step Patient Positioning Sequence, and one of the most important concepts in dental ergonomics: when the occlusal plane of the upper arch is in front of the vertical, it pulls the dentist into a forward-leaning posture.
To maintain optimal posture, the occlusal plane of the upper arch must be 20-25 degrees behind the vertical. This is most easily achieved with a double articulating headrest, however most dentists and hygienists do not angle the double articulating headrest steeply downward for risk of causing the patient discomfort. Many of these headrests are not sufficiently cushioned on the edge and can cut into the patient’s occiput.
The secret to getting the patient to tolerate positioning the occlusal plane behind the vertical is comfort. Once the patient is comfortable, they will tolerate a
surprising amount of reclining without objection! The key product to do this is a low-profile dental ergonomic headrest cushion that is ideal for use with double articulating headrests. Many are familiar with the larger headrest cushions that have been around for years (which are ideal for use with a flat headrest) but they are too large to use on most double articulating headrests, especially when treating the upper arch. Check out the new low profile headrest.
Video Excerpt from Dr. Valachi’s CE Video Course
Positioning for Success in Dentistry
Also imperative to preserve your optimal posture in the operatory is proper:
- Dental stool selection & adjustment
- Degree of recline of patient chair
- Height of patient chair
- Headrest adjustment (flat vs. double articulating headrest require very different patient positioning)
- Clock position depending on the tooth surface
- Light position
Learn Dr. Valachi’s 10-Step Patient Positioning Sequence in the
CE Video course, “Positioning for Success in Dentistry”.