Occupational Hazards in Dentistry: Understanding and Managing the Risks

James M. Hoffmann
2 min readOct 16, 2023

For many, a trip to the dentist invokes anxiety, often due to the distinct sound and sensation of dental instruments. While patients might be apprehensive about the tools, it’s important to note that dentists, too face certain occupational hazards while using them. This article will discuss some of the prevalent work-related injuries in dentistry.

1. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: Engaging in precise hand movements is integral to dentistry. Yet, maintaining specific hand positions for prolonged durations can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. This condition arises when the median nerve, located within the carpal tunnel, is compressed. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, and a feeling of swollen fingers. Over time, it can result in reduced sensitivity in the fingers. Proactive measures, like using ergonomic tools and regular breaks, can help mitigate this risk.

2. Neck Strains and Sprains: Holding the neck in a fixed position can cause neck muscles and tendons to overextend. The severity of the strain or sprain depends on the amount and location of the stretching. Regular stretching breaks during procedures and adjusting the dental chair for optimal line-of-sight can prevent such strains. Additionally, regular exercise can help strengthen neck muscles, reducing the risk of injury.

3. Radiation Exposure: Though not a physical injury, dental professionals may be at risk from radiation exposure due to the frequent use of X-rays. Consistent exposure without protection can heighten the chances of developing cancer. Dentists should always use protective equipment to minimize exposure.

4. Cuts and Lacerations: Given the nature of their tools, dentists and dental hygienists are prone to occasional cuts and lacerations. While typically minor, treating these promptly is crucial to prevent infections.

St. Louis Workers Compensation Attorney

While preventive measures are essential, it’s equally vital for dental professionals to know their rights when it comes to work-related injuries. Workers’ compensation insurance is designed to cover costs related to occupational injuries and illnesses.

At the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann we have over 30 years of experience helping thousands of injured Missouri workers. Contact us 24/7 for a free case evaluation.



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