Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

LaVonne Fox


Dentistry; Human Engineering; Musculoskeletal Diseases -- prevention & control


Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) pose a significant threat to the dental profession. There are many risk factors inherent in the tasks of dental professionals that could lead to MSDs. A literature review from professional literature, journal articles, and professional websites was used to determine the various risk factors and types of MSDs that occur in the dental profession; best practices in MSD prevention in the dental field; and the role of occupational therapy ergonomic intervention in the dental field. The information has a solid foundation in Malcolm Knowles' theory of Andragogy.

To gather real life information, visits to a dental office were completed by the author, an occupational therapist. A job analysis was conducted with a dentist and other dental professionals were observed and questioned regarding their knowledge of ergonomics. Based upon the compilation of information obtained from all sources Giving Dentistry a Hand: Occupational Therapy MSD Prevention in Dentistry was developed.

Primary risk factors identified include 1) awkward positioning that dental professional use to see within the oral cavity of clients; 2) static sitting postures for most work tasks; and 3) fine, repetitive movements that require a constant pinch and force while holding small tools. The limited quantity and quality of ergonomic education, by qualified ergonomic trainers, during the initial schooling of dental professionals was identified as a primary concern. Best practices for MSD prevention in the dental field include ergonomic evaluations, stretching programs, and ergonomic education. Occupational therapists have the skills and experience for successful intervention in the prevention of MSDs in the dental profession. Giving Dentistry a Hand: Occupational Therapy MSD Prevention in Dentistry is a tool that occupational therapists can use to educate themselves on job-related issues of the dental profession and plan an outstanding professional development workshop that focuses on key issues in the dental profession. This product consists of an educational article and a professional development workshop. Both the article and the professional development workshop are intended to be implemented by occupational therapists who are interested in preventing musculoskeletal disorders within the dental profession.