An interview with Dr Lisha Jain.

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“I anticipate dental clinics being redesigned to optimise ergonomics”

As part of the IDEM Singapore 2024 conference programme, Dr Lisha Jain will speak about the importance of dental ergonomics. (Image: Koelnmesse)

The first Indian dentist certified in zero concept dental ergonomics, Dr Lisha Jain is set to share invaluable insights on transforming dental practices for enhanced clinician well-being and efficiency at IDEM. With a rich background in endodontics and laser dentistry, Dr Jain’s journey into dental ergonomics was sparked by a revealing survey conducted across India that highlighted the urgent need for ergonomic interventions in dentistry. Ahead of the event, Dental Tribune International spoke with her about the impact of dental ergonomics.

Dr Lisha Jain

Dr Lisha Jain’s ultimate goal is to improve the well-being and longevity of dental professionals through ergonomically sound practices. (Image: Lisha Jain)

Dr Jain, what inspired you to delve into the field of dental ergonomics?
The inspiration to explore the field of dental ergonomics stemmed from a pivotal moment in my career in 2016. At that time, I conducted a comprehensive survey on dental ergonomics among dentists across India. The results of this survey were not only eye-opening but also deeply concerning. It was revealed that a significant majority of dentists were experiencing various forms of musculoskeletal pain and found their work to be increasingly stressful. Furthermore, I observed a considerable number of dentists seeking treatment from physiotherapists owing to these issues.

This realisation struck a chord with me, prompting me to further investigate the subject of dental ergonomics. My ultimate goal is to contribute to the well-being and longevity of dental professionals by advocating for ergonomically sound practices that mitigate the risk of musculoskeletal disorders and enhance overall quality of life in dentistry.

You are the first dentist from India to have received certification in zero concept dental ergonomics in Japan. Could you explain the core principles of the zero concept in dental ergonomics and how it can revolutionise the traditional dental practice?
The core principles of the zero concept in dental ergonomics are centred around minimising physical strain, optimising workflow efficiency and enhancing overall well-being for dental professionals. These principles include proprioception optimisation, efficiency enhancement, comfort and support, flexibility and adaptability, injury prevention, and education and training.

The zero concept or proprioceptive derivation concept focuses on leveraging proprioceptive feedback to optimise the dental workspace. Proprioception refers to the body’s ability to sense its position, movement and spatial orientation. By incorporating ergonomic design elements that enhance proprioceptive feedback, such as proper instrument positioning and tactile cues, dentists can achieve better control and precision during procedures while minimising strain on the body.

Ergonomic design aims to enhance efficiency by streamlining workflow processes and minimising unnecessary movements. This includes optimising the layout of instruments, equipment and patient positioning to facilitate smooth and uninterrupted workflow, leading to improved productivity and patient outcomes.

Providing a comfortable and supportive working environment is essential for preventing fatigue and discomfort among dental professionals. The concept emphasises the importance of ergonomic dental chair units, operator stools and workstations that prioritise comfort and support, allowing dentists to focus on their tasks without experiencing physical strain.

Dental ergonomics should be adaptable to accommodate the diverse needs and preferences of dental professionals. The proprioceptive derivation concept promotes ergonomic design solutions that are flexible and customisable, allowing dentists to adjust the workspace according to different procedures, patient types and individual ergonomic requirements.

One of the primary goals of zero concept dental ergonomics is to prevent work-related injuries and musculoskeletal disorders. By implementing ergonomic design principles, such as proper posture, instrument positioning and ergonomic seating options, the risk of injuries can be significantly reduced, promoting long-term health and well-being.

The zero concept emphasises the importance of education and training in proper ergonomic practices for dental professionals. Providing comprehensive training programmes and resources on ergonomic techniques, posture awareness and injury prevention strategies empowers dentists to prioritise their health and adopt ergonomic principles in their daily practice.

By adhering to these core principles, zero concept dental ergonomics aims to create a safer, more efficient and more comfortable working environment for dental professionals, ultimately enhancing the quality of care provided to patients.

“In my experience, even small adjustments can yield noticeable improvements relatively quickly.”

In your presentation, you discuss the importance of synchronised instrument transfer and proper workstation layout. For clinicians who feel they are too busy to implement layout or procedural changes, can you share what kind of investment of time it takes to see a pay-off?
Certainly. Implementing changes in workstation layout and procedural techniques may initially require some investment of time and effort, but the long-term benefits far outweigh the initial investment. For clinicians who feel they are too busy to implement these changes, I would emphasise the significant impact that synchronised instrument transfer and proper workstation layout can have on efficiency, productivity and, ultimately, patient care.

The investment of time required to see a pay-off depends on several factors, including the complexity of the changes being implemented, the size of the practice and the willingness of the team to adapt to new workflows. However, in my experience, even small adjustments can yield noticeable improvements relatively quickly.

For example, organising instruments in a more ergonomic and accessible manner can streamline procedures, reduce unnecessary movements and minimise the risk of errors. This may require a short initial period to rearrange the workstation and adjust to the new layout. However, once these changes are implemented, clinicians typically find that procedures flow more smoothly, leading to time-saving and increased productivity during each appointment.

Similarly, synchronised instrument transfer involves coordinating movements between the dental assistant and the clinician to ensure seamless handovers during procedures. Although this may require some practice and coordination initially, the pay-off in terms of improved efficiency and teamwork can be significant.

Overall, the investment of time required to implement layout and procedural changes is relatively small compared with the long-term benefits for both the practice and its patients. By prioritising efficiency and ergonomics in the dental workspace, clinicians can enhance their productivity, reduce stress and fatigue, and ultimately deliver better outcomes for their patients.

Proper ergonomic practices can make a world of difference. (Image: Lisha Jain)

Considering your ongoing research in dental ergonomics for your PhD, what future developments do you anticipate in this field, and are there any specific advances you are excited about?
Thank you very much for your insightful question regarding the future of dental ergonomics and my ongoing research for my PhD. It’s a topic that I’m truly passionate about.

Looking ahead, I envision a transformative shift in dental practice as dentists increasingly embrace zero concept ergonomic principles. This approach holds the potential to revolutionise the way dentistry is performed, involving advancements such as dental chair units without spittoons and equipment specifically designed with ergonomic principles in mind. Additionally, I anticipate dental clinics being redesigned to optimise ergonomics, creating a more comfortable and efficient workspace for clinicians.

What excites me the most about these developments is the prospect of dentists enjoying a pain-free and healthy career. By prioritising ergonomics in every aspect of dental practice, we can significantly reduce the risk of work-related injuries and musculoskeletal disorders, ultimately enhancing the well-being of dental professionals.

I truly believe that these innovations have the power to have a positive impact on the entire dental community, and I’m eagerly looking forward to witnessing the positive changes they will bring about.

“Overall, the investment of time required to implement layout and procedural changes is relatively small compared with the long-term benefits for both the practice and its patients.”

Would you like to share with our readers anything further about your ongoing work and about why you are attending IDEM and particularly the Dental Hygienist and Therapist Forum?
I am excited to inform you that I have recently released a book, titled Dental Assistant Training Guide, aimed at assisting dentists in efficiently training their assistants. This book serves as a comprehensive colour atlas of all instruments and equipment used in dentistry and highlights clinical procedural tray set-ups. My goal in creating this guide is to provide a valuable resource that streamlines the training process for dental assistants, ensuring that they are well prepared and knowledgeable in their roles.

Moreover, I am attending IDEM with a specific purpose in mind: to contribute to the profession of dentistry by spreading awareness of zero concept dental ergonomics. It is my firm belief that prioritising ergonomics is essential for the well-being of all dental professionals, including dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants. By advocating for zero concept dental ergonomics, I aim to help prevent musculoskeletal pain and injuries that are unfortunately common in our field. Through education and awareness, I hope to empower dental professionals with the knowledge and tools they need to practise dentistry safely and comfortably.

Attending IDEM and particularly the Dental Hygienist and Therapist Forum provides me with a valuable platform to share my expertise and insights with fellow dental professionals. I am eager to engage in discussions, exchange ideas and collaborate with like-minded individuals who share a passion for advancing dental ergonomics and promoting the health and well-being of our community.

Editorial note:

During the Dental Hygienist and Therapist Forum at IDEM Singapore 2024, Dr Jain is presenting a paper, titled “From strain to success: Harnessing ergonomics for a rewarding dental career as an oral health therapist”, on 20 April from 16:00 to 17:00. Learn more about IDEM 2024 in Singapore here.

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