Musculoskeletal disorders affect a high percentage of dentists, dental hygienists and therapists. Static and awkward working postures are considered as major risk factors. Proper seat selection and use of magnification loupes are promoted for their ergonomic benefits. The aim of this review was to evaluate the existing empirical evidence on the effect of the above interventions on (i) correction of poor posture and (ii) reduction in musculoskeletal pain.
The review was conducted according to the PRISMA guidelines. The review protocol was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42017058580). The Medline via Ovid, CINHAL via EBSCO, Web of Science, OpenGrey and EThOS electronic databases were searched. Prospective experimental studies were considered for inclusion. The Effective Public Health Practice Project Quality Assessment Tool (EPHPP) was used to assess the methodological quality of the included studies.
Eight studies were included in the review. Four investigated the effect of loupes on posture and musculoskeletal pain, 4 the effect of the saddle seats on posture and one of the latter explored the combined effect of magnification and use of saddle seats on posture.
Based on a limited number of studies, the use of ergonomic saddle seats and dental loupes leads to improved working postures. The use of loupes appears to relieve shoulder, arm and hand pain. However, their effect on neck pain is scarce. None of the studies reported on the effect of the saddle seats on musculoskeletal pain. Future well-powered prospective longitudinal studies are deemed necessary to confirm the conclusions of this review.