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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 228-230  

Musculoskeletal disorders and mental health-related issues as occupational hazards among dental practitioners in Salem city: A cross-sectional study

1 Department of Conservative Dentistry and Endodontics, Vinayaka Missions Sankarachariyar Dental College, Salem, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Conservative Dentistry and Endodontics, Vivekanandha Dental College for Women, Tiruchengode, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication27-Nov-2017

Correspondence Address:
Vanita D Revankar
Flat No. GC, Vijaya Gem Apartment, State Bank Colony, Near AVR Circle, Salem - 636 004, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jpbs.JPBS_145_17

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Background: Like in any other profession, dental surgeons are also afflicted by many occupational health hazards such as Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) and mental health related issues. Aims: To assess the distribution of MSD and mental health related issues amidst dentists in Salem City according to age, sex and number of working hours per week. Objectives: A survey was organized to check the rate of occurrence of these occupational health hazards among dental practitioners in Salem city. Materials and Methods: The study was conducted among one hundred and fifty dentists practicing in Salem City in the form of questionnaire. Dentists were asked about any occupational disease that they suffered related to a musculo–skeletal pain and its location whether in the back, upper limbs or lower limbs. In addition to this,dentists were asked about mental stress that they had experienced. Results: MSD showed higher rate of prevalence compared to mental health related issues. Conclusion: The application of preventive measures is necessary, in view of the high rate of these disorders in the society of dental practitioners.

Keywords: Occupational health hazards, dental practitioner, musculoskeletal disorders, mental health, pain and stress

How to cite this article:
Revankar VD, Chakravarthy Y, Naveen S, Selvan AS, Ganapathy A, Prasad A S. Musculoskeletal disorders and mental health-related issues as occupational hazards among dental practitioners in Salem city: A cross-sectional study. J Pharm Bioall Sci 2017;9, Suppl S1:228-30

How to cite this URL:
Revankar VD, Chakravarthy Y, Naveen S, Selvan AS, Ganapathy A, Prasad A S. Musculoskeletal disorders and mental health-related issues as occupational hazards among dental practitioners in Salem city: A cross-sectional study. J Pharm Bioall Sci [serial online] 2017 [cited 2022 Sep 27];9, Suppl S1:228-30. Available from:

   Introduction Top

According to the World Health Organization, health is a state of physical, mental, and social well-being. An occupational hazard is something unpleasant that you may suffer or experience as a result of doing your job.

As in any other working environment, dental practice can be associated with harmful effects to dentists, referred to as occupational health hazards (OHHs). Dentist and their teams are exposed to a number of hazards in their profession. These cause various ailments specific to the profession, which develop and intensify with years.

These can be wildly classified into biological (close contact with patients infectious bioaerosols and blood); physical (burns and scalds from autoclaves, vibrational injury, eye and ear injury); chemical (toxicity, hypersensitivity, and allergy due to dental materials); contact dermatitis; and ergonomic risks such as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and carpel tunnel syndrome.[1]

The common OHH seen in dental surgeons is MSD caused by strained posture (both while standing and sitting close to a patient), which eventually leads to overstress of the spine and limbs. This refers to the 37.7% of the work time. The overstress produces a negative effect on the musculoskeletal system and the peripheral nervous system; above all, it affects the peripheral nerves of the upper limbs and the neck nerve roots.[2],[3]

They are characterized by the presence of pain, stiffness, neurological features such as tingling, paraesthesia, muscle weakness, discomfort, disability, or persistent pain in the joints, muscles, tendons, and other soft parts.[4]

Dental practitioners perceive dentistry as being more stressful than other occupations. A strict time schedule, coping with anxious patients, or painful treatments are frequently referred to as major stressors, procedures connected with anesthetization of patients, overcoming of pain and fear, unanticipated emergency situations in which a patient's life is in danger, or procedures with hesitant prognosis.[5],[6]

Since the additive effects of these OHH are detrimental, there is a need for awareness against these issues in the overall interest of the dental practitioners' health which is significant for his/her productivity.

Hence, this study was performed to assess the prevalence of MSD and mental health-related issues among dental practitioners in Salem, India.

   Materials and Methods Top

This study included a community of dentists who are undergoing clinical practice in different parts of Salem city. The data were gathered with the help of a self-administrated questionnaire that included questions on personal data, information about occupational hazards and precautions taken and the experience of occupational hazard while in practice. The questionnaire included data on the region of manifestation of MSD, whether it hindered regular work and enforced the dentists to consuming sedatives or consulted medical help. An identical questionnaire for checking work-related stress, fatigue, anxiety, nervousness etc. was also integrated in the questionnaire. All data were analyzed by means of SPSS 16.0 system for windows (SPSS Inc, US). Statistical analysis was done with results on continuous measurement presented on mean ± standard deviation (Minimum–Maximum) and significance was assessed at 5% level of significance. Chi-square/Fisher's exact tests were used to find the significance of the study parameters.

   Results Top

This study included population of 150 dental surgeons. The dental surgeons with age groups between 36 and 46 years showed highest frequency, i.e., 28% compared to other age groups of 24–30 years, 41–50 years, and 51–60 years, respectively. The study sample exhibited higher frequency for males 54.3% and females with 45.6%. The 65 number of dentists who had been practicing for last 5–10 years showed OHH as 42.6%; 20.3% dentists practicing for 10–20 years; and 4.5% showed by dentists practicing for more than 20 years.

Highest number of dental surgeons exhibited OHH as 54.3% who worked for 6-8 hours /day where as 22.4% worked for 1-5 hours/ day, 23% for 9-12 hours/day and only 1% worked for longer than 12 hour/ day. In this study, 94.7% of the dental practitioners liked to perform practice in sitting position while 24% preferred standing dentistry.

In our study, 52.3% of the dentists were suffering from pain in the lower back region [Table 1].
Table 1: Prevalence of different musculoskeletal pain among dentists

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The percentages of the dental surgeons who had pain in the neck, shoulder, upper back, wrist/hand, arms/forearms, and hips/thighs were 53.8%, 26.3%, 13.7%, 8.3%, 5%, and 1.7%, respectively. However, 16% of the dentists did not report with any pain recently.

Stress was the most predominant mental health-related issue showed by 62.6% of the dental practitioners in our study followed by fatigue (37%), awakening at night (7%), tension before going to work (6.3%), anxiety (4.3%), and nervousness (2.3%). However, 23.57% dentists did not suffer with any of the mental health related issues [Table 2].
Table 2: Prevalence of mental stress among dentists with age

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Our study showed overall occurrence of MSD and mental health issues as 81% and 74.3%, respectively.

   Discussion Top

The occupational hazards are seen amidst dental surgeons consisted of vast amount of danger. Consciousness and alertness about these issues are necessary. Dentistry is usually noted to be higher distress than other employment. This is evidenced from other studies observed.[7] Managing with difficult or uncooperative patients, over workload, constant drive for technical perfection, low self-esteem and challenging atmosphere are important factors contributing to stress among dentist. In our study, majority of dentists reported negative impact of the atmosphere and patient over load to be factors behind stress. This event of stress is harmful and frequently head toward professional burnout or overconsumption of substance mainly tobacco smoking by the dentists.[8]

Burnout is noticed to be higher among general dental surgeons and oral surgeons as related to other specialties.[9] The higher count of burn out may be liable with some facets of their working pattern. According to our findings, musculoskeletal problems occur at an early age in dental careers. The higher rate of MSD may be due to lack of education of ergonomic principles and restlessness environment.[10] Among muscular disorders, 52.3% suffered from several types of aches such as lower limb, wrist, and back pain. This is in agreement with a study which was done in Greece where 66% of dentists were affected by these problems.[11]

Therefore, worldwide musculoskeletal problems showed highest occurrence among dentists, with a recorded prevalence of 48%–51%.[12] These symptoms have regularly been associated to the fact that during dental treatment, there is constant single movement of the arm which exerts wrist and elbow.[13]

   Conclusion Top

Occupational hazard in the dental field exhibits a dangerous threat that should be speculated. Dentists should be aware of their working posture including complete protection of themselves while working.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

   References Top

Leggat PA, Kedjarune U, Smith DR. Occupational health problems in modern dentistry: A review. Ind Health 2007;45:611-21.  Back to cited text no. 1
Rundcrantz BL, Johnsson B, Moritz U. Cervical pain and discomfort among dentists. Epidemiological, clinical and therapeutic aspects. Part 1. A survey of pain and discomfort. Swed Dent J 1990;14:71-80.  Back to cited text no. 2
Rundcrantz BL, Johnsson B, Moritz U. Pain and discomfort in the musculoskeletal system among dentists. A prospective study. Swed Dent J 1991;15:219-28.  Back to cited text no. 3
Harutunian K, Gargallo-Albiol J, Figueiredo R, Gay-Escoda C. Ergonomics and musculoskeletal pain among postgraduate students and faculty members of the school of dentistry of the university of barcelona (Spain). A cross-sectional study. Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal 2011;16:e425-9.  Back to cited text no. 4
Neha A, ND Gupta, Afshan Bey, Amit Kumar Garg, Vivek Sharma. Occupational Hazards in Modern Dentistry: A Review. International Journal of Medicine & Health Research 2014;1:1-9.  Back to cited text no. 5
Harutunian K, Gargallo-Albiol J, Figueiredo R, Gay-Escoda C. Ergonomics and musculoskeletal pain among postgraduate students and faculty members of the School of Dentistry of the University of Barcelona (Spain). A cross-sectional study. Med Oral Patol Oral Cir Bucal 2011;16:e425-9.  Back to cited text no. 6
O'Shea RM, Corah NL, Ayer WA. Sources of dentists' stress. J Am Dent Assoc 1984;109:48-51.  Back to cited text no. 7
Smith DR, Leggat PA. A comparison of tobacco smoking among dentists in 15 countries. Int Dent J 2006;56:283-8.  Back to cited text no. 8
Humphris G. A review of burnout in dentists. Dent Update 1998;25:392-6.  Back to cited text no. 9
Tareen SUK, Khattak Y, Shakeel UR. Ergonomics related disorder among dentists in Peshawar: questionnaire survey. J Khyber Coll Dent 2013; 3:24-7.  Back to cited text no. 10
Alexopoulos EC, Stathi IC, Charizani F. Prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders in dentists. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 2004;5:16.  Back to cited text no. 11
Szymanska J. Occupational hazards of dentistry. Ann Agric Environ Med 1999;6:13-9.  Back to cited text no. 12
Akesson I, Lundborg G, Horstmann V, Skerfving S. Neuropathy in female dental personnel exposed to high frequency vibrations. Occup Environ Med 1995;52:116-23.  Back to cited text no. 13


  [Table 1], [Table 2]

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