A New Start to Practice Dentistry and Surgery Pain-Free: Resolve to Protect Your Health in 2021

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ErgoPractice News – January 2021

A New Start to Practice Dentistry and Surgery Pain-Free: Resolve to Protect Your Health in 2021

Figure 1 – Dangerous Neck Tilt (Left), Comfortable Neck Tilt (Right)

Two major health risks faced by dental professionals as well as surgeons are chronic pain in the neck and shoulder caused by using improperly fitted loupes1, 2, 3 and potential age-related macular degeneration (AMD) of eyes caused by strong blue light from cool LED lights used as headlights or overhead lights4, 5, 6, 7. Figure 1 shows a clinician who has a dangerous neck tilt and is likely experiencing chronic pain and Figure 2 shows the effects of AMD.

Figure 2 – Stages of AMD: Normal Vision (Left), Early Signs to Intermediate (Center), Advanced AMD (Right)

To avoid these health risks, you should make sure that your loupes do not force you to excessively tilt your head/neck (ideally less than 20 degrees) and your LED headlights do not have too strong blue light and allow users to optimize the brightness for best image contrast and maximum eye safety.

Many dental professionals and surgeons have been forced into early retirement due to chronic pain with a musculoskeletal disorder. Untreated chronic pain leads to injuries which can result in physical and financial disaster. The hidden cost of pain includes expenses from purchasing non-ergonomic equipment such as loupes and stools, costs of sick leave, medical bills, decreased productivity, decreased value of practice, missed treatment appointments, and reduced income because of forced early retirement.

Recognizing that poor postures created by non-ergonomically designed loupes are the main cause of clinicians’ chronic pain in the neck, upper shoulder, and lower back, SurgiTel started developing posture-safe loupes and eye-safe headlights in 1992. As a result of continued research and development during the last 30 years, today SurgiTel offers posture-safe FLM (front-lens-mounted) loupes and posture-safe TTL (through-the-lens) loupes, and eye-safe LED true color headlights (Figure 3). With patented technologies, SurgiTel can make true custom loupes for any clinicians which allows them to maintain a head tilt of less than 20 degrees.8 This provides not only comfort and relief from pain but reduced risk of all the costs and consequences described above.

Figure 3 – SurgiTel’s 3.5x Prism Loupes with Neutral LED Headlight, TTL and FLM Models

Free Ergonomics Evaluation Service

Because all loupes are sold as “ergonomic” and many LED headlights are sold as “blue light compliant,” it can be confusing to shop for loupes and LED headlights. Many of our most satisfied customers have found relief from neck pain by replacing loupes that were classified as ergonomic by the manufacturer.1 No matter any company’s claims, including SurgiTel’s, a simple measure of your head tilt when wearing your loupes will indicate whether you are in an ergonomic position when wearing your loupes, or not.

This is why SurgiTel offers our Free Ergonomics Evaluation Service where your local SurgiTel Representative can take this measurement and show you the difference. This can be done by an in-person meeting or a virtual meeting. One can also bring their loupes and LED headlights to our exhibit booths at Trade Shows. This service will measure your difference in your head tilt angle and compare your LED headlight side-by-side with a control headlight.

Graph Neck Tilt Fatigue Over Time

Figure 4 – A Reduced Neck Tilt Angle (HA) Reduces the Time to Reach Significant Muscle Fatigue

A safe head tilt being less than 20 degrees forward is based on years of research from multiple sources. This includes industrial scientists in early studies, as well as modern research by occupational and physical therapists. Past 20°, stress and strain amplify at an exponential rate (Figure 4). This results in discomfort, pain, and often career-ending injury.9, 10 SurgiTel offers trade-in discounts to assist clinicians who need to make a change in their ergonomics.

Other Assistance

Correcting your working posture with posture-safe loupes is the first step. With a new ergonomic posture using posture-safe loupes, you still may not be able to eliminate your pain completely. You may need additional help from health care professionals if your pain is not eliminated. I personally recommend the WellBody Series by Dr. Bethany Valachi.

Bethany Valachi

Dr. Bethany Valachi, www.posturedontics.com

Dr. Bethany Valachi is internationally recognized as a dental ergonomics expert, a Doctor of Physical Therapy, author of Practice Dentistry Pain-free and Ergonomics Instructor at OHSU School of Dentistry. She has created evidence-based, unbiased dental ergonomic education to help dental professionals prevent pain and extend your career.


WellBody Series by Dr. Bethany Valachi

Dr. Bethany Valachi’s WellBody System is an evidence-based dental ergonomic & wellness training course. This course consists of “5 Steps to Practicing Dentistry Pain-free” which may be applied to Practicing Surgery.

Recently I attended this virtual course. This course is very helpful for managing stress & pain and shows exercise routines you can use daily. Mention that you attended this course and provide the code Valachi001 to your SurgiTel Sales Representative to receive a discount on your order.

Summary of course contents:

Step 1 – Ergonomics: Dr. Bethany Valachi will show how to select and adjust ergonomic equipment such as loupes and stools for your body type, and 10 step sequence to position difficult patients.

Step 2 – Stress Management: Dr. Valachi will teach corrective breathing exercises to prevent low back, neck, and sacroiliac pain and show 7 evidence-based stress interventions to down-regulate the sympathetic nervous system in the operatory & 4 proven strategies for home.

Step 3 – Myofascial Treatment: You can learn the most effective therapies for various pain syndromes (hand, neck, joint, myofascial, knee, low back, and thumb & more) and how to self-treat & manage the 11 key trigger points that cause the most pain among dental professionals.

Step 4 – Chairside Stretching: Dr. Valachi will teach 20 chairside stretches to prevent pain.

Step 5 – Muscular Endurance Training: This step covers the ultimate home exercise program. Dr. Valachi will show 24 exercises in 3 workout routines (two 25=minute exercise routines, one 12-minute stretching routine.

Free Evaluation for Loupes and LED Headlight?

What are the right magnifications for my procedures? What level of detail do I need? Do I need multiple magnification loupes? What are the best options for me? How can I practice pain-free? How can I protect my eyes from blue-tinted LED lights?

To receive a personalized evaluation of your current solutions versus these needs, contact your local SurgiTel representative at www.surgitel.com/eval.


  1. Chang, BJ. Choosing Loupes for Dental School: 3 Most Common Myths in the Loupe Industry Demystified, ErgoPractice News, July 2018. https://surgitel.com/choosing-loupes-for-dental-school-3-most-common-myths-in-the-loupe-industry-demystified
  2. Walker, Brooke. “Duke Surgery Introduces Ergonomics Program to Improve Surgeon Health.” Duke Surgery. July 14, 2017. Accessed December 27, 18. https://surgery.duke.edu/news/duke-surgery-introduces-ergonomics-program-improve-surgeon-health.
  3. Chitnis, Deepak. “Operating with pain: Surgeon workplace injury underrecognized” ACS Surgery News, the Official Newspaper of the American College of Surgeons. April 2016. https://www.mdedge.com/surgery/article/109038/practice-management/operating-pain-surgeon-workplace-injury-underrecognized
  4. Stamatacos, Catherine, DDS; Janet L. Harrison, DDS. “The Possible Ocular Hazards of LED Dental Illumination Applications.” TDA Journal – Continuing Education 93-2 #51 (2013): 25-31. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.
  5. OPINION of the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety on the “effects on human health and the environment (fauna and flora) of systems using light-emitting diodes (LEDs)”; ANSES Opinion Request No. 2014-SA-0253; Maisons-Alfort, 5 April 2019
  6. Fluent, Marie, DDS; Jack Ferracane, PhD; James Mace, DDS; Anjali Shah, MD; Richard Price, DBS, DDS, MS, FDS, RCS (Edin), FRCD (C), PhD. “Shedding Light on A Potential Hazard, Dental Light-Curing Units” JADA 2019: 150(12): 1051-1058
  7. US Department of Energy, Solid-State Lighting Technology Fact Sheet, June 2013
  8. Valachi, Bethany. Practice Dentistry Pain-Free. Portland, Oregon: Posturedontics Press, 2008. www.posturedontics.com
  9. Linda Meeuwenberg, RDH, M.A., F.A.D.I.A. “How SurgiTel Custom FLM Loupes can Prevent Career-ending Injury, SurgiTel. November 2013. Accessed January 21, 2019.
  10. Rucker, LM. Surgical telescopes: posture maker or posture breaker? In, Murphy D, ed, Ergonomics and the dental care workers. Am Public Health Assoc, Washington DC 1998: 191-216.