As a clinician who was trained primarily to use hand scalers, I’m encouraged by how incorporating ultrasonic instrumentation immediately improves the clinician’s ergonomics as well as treatment outcomes for the patient.
This hygienist as you can see is clearly struggling to visualize what she is doing (Figs. 1 & 2). Heidi also complains of chronic neck, shoulder and back pain. Can you blame her? If you spend even part of your chair time in twisted positions like this one, you are in pain too. In fact, most dental hygienists complain of chronic neck, shoulder, upper and lower back pain and even hip pain in some cases.
There are many popular and effective ways to improve ergonomics including loops, illumination, correct seating for your body type, correct patient positioning, etc. All of these techniques suddenly become more effective when ultrasonic scalers become the primary choice for instrumentation. Just look at the changes in Heidi’s posture after just a few hours of hands-on ultrasonic instrumentation training (Fig. 3).
And here’s the best part, not only have Heidi’s ergonomics improved, she’s providing a higher level of care. Magnetostrictive ultrasonic scalers move 30k cycles (strokes) per second while Piezo moves 40-60k per second. Compare that to one stroke per second with hand instruments. Lay down your hand instruments and reach for power scaling, better for your patient, better for you too!
Kim Miller, R.D.H., B.S.D.H., Contributing Author