Dentistry is certainly a demanding job. It requires the highest levels of knowledge, precision and focus. The mental aspect of the job can certainly be quite draining. What a surprising number of dentists fail to realise, however, is the amount of strain their bodies undergo in the profession. When Martyn Amsel started to research the problems that dentists were having with the physical exertions of the job, he was shocked to learn that 65% of dentists experience serious back problems because the nature of the work is very stressful on posture. “Posture is something which is largely ignored in dental school,” he explains. “I’ve given talks to dentists in their mid-twenties where half admitted to having experienced back problems.” Martyn now lectures internationally on how to practise good posture in day-to-day dentistry and will deliver a lecture on “An ergonomic way of practising dentistry and protecting your back” at the Clinical Innovations Conference 2015.
According to Martyn, so many dentists simply accept the back pain that they suffer as simply a hazard of the job. They do not realise that steps can be taken to drastically reduce the risks of feeling this pain by making simple changes in their daily practise. He said: “I’ve seen dentists as young as 35-40 having to curtail their careers due to being affected by chronic back pain. This is a serious issue dentists need to be made aware of.” This will not only seriously affect their long term health but also have grave financial implications if they are unable to work as a result.
So what steps need to be taken? “The right stool is very important,” according to Martyn. “So much time is spent sitting down daily that the right, or wrong, stool can make a real difference.” The layout of the office is also important as having instruments on the dentist’s side will cause twisting of the body to pick them up. The correct sitting position, wearing appropriate loupes and numerous other simple adjustments can make a huge difference. An extremely important aspect of Martyn’s approach is the trust given to the dental nurse in this situation. A great example he uses to explain the effectiveness and inherently logical decision to allow the dental nurse more responsibility is “how many consultant surgeons pick up their own instruments?”
The dental community, he admits, have been slow to adopt such measures to protect dentists welfare. Martyn admits that: “My lectures are more well-received in Eastern Europe than in the UK. There is a lack of proper teaching of these issues at dental school and, although this issue became prevalent up to the 1980’s, interest has dropped sharply in it since then.” He said that a “mind-set change” was definitely needed. He added: “4-handed dentistry incorporates effective dental work with good posture… Dentistry is such a hard discipline anyway – it’s so technical, it’s very difficult, you’re often faced with a frightened patient – that steps need to be taken to ensure that dentists can do their job to the highest level.”
Coming to the conference, Martyn is certainly looking forward to Clinical Innovations 2015. There is so much to learn at events like this that “even coming away with 3 or 4 good points is enough,” according to Martyn. Each topic can lead to so many avenues and roads to expand your knowledge and extend your learning. This helps to make these events such a worthwhile experience. Equally important for Martyn is the opportunity to engage with colleagues. He said: “You can learn as much from you colleagues as you can in the lectures. Everyone is working on new things and new innovations all the time.” Beyond that, it is always refreshing to meet people who experience the exact same things on a day-to-day basis. “To hear from colleagues who are going through the same things as you are certainly puts things into perspective,” he added.
Martyn certainly keeps himself busy with lecturing these days, but he still works in his practice 3 days a week. Speaking with a passion that would have you believe that this is his 2nd, rather than his 42nd, year running his own practice Martyn shows no signs of stopping just yet. “I’m a workaholic”, he admits. “I always want to learn more and find out as much as I can.” As well as that, there is the social aspect of running his own practice for so long that makes Martyn still retain his love for the work. “I’ve known some of the families who come to my practice for generations. I find the people so interesting that I love coming in every day.”
Martyn Amsel will be presenting on the afternoon of day 1 – Friday 12th June – at Clinical Innovations 2015. For more information about the Conference, Martyn or any of the other fine speakers taking part, please click here, and check out the Facebook page here.