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The effects of periodontal curette handle weight and diameter on arm pain: a four-month randomized controlled trial.

Rempel D; Lee DL; Dawson K; Loomer P
J Am Dent Assoc 2012 Oct; 143(10):1105-1113
Background: The design of periodontal curette handles may cause or aggravate arm pain in dental practitioners. The authors conducted a four-month randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effects of curette handle diameter and weight on arm pain among dental hygienists and dentists. Methods: One hundred ten dental hygienists and dentists who performed scaling, root planing or dental prophylaxis procedures participated in this study. The authors assessed right wrist/hand, elbow/forearm and shoulder pain levels weekly. They randomized participants to receive either a set of light (14 grams) periodontal curettes with a large diameter (11 millimeters) or a set of heavy (34 g) periodontal curettes with a narrow diameter (8 mm). The authors compared changes in mean pain scores across the study period between intervention groups by using general linear models and controlling for covariates. Results: The improvement in pain scores across the three body regions was greater for participants who used the lighter, wider-diameter curettes. In the final adjusted model, the differences were statistically significant only for the shoulder region (P = .02). Conclusions: The study results show that dental instrument design has an effect on upper-extremity pain in dental practitioners. Using a lighter instrument with a wider diameter may be an easy and cost-effective intervention to reduce or prevent upper-extremity pain associated with dental hygiene procedures. Clinical implications: To prevent or reduce arm pain, practitioners should consider using lightweight instruments with large diameters when performing scaling and root planing procedures.
Dentistry; Dentists; Musculoskeletal-system; Musculoskeletal-system-disorders; Extremities; Arm-injuries; Humans; Men; Women; Models; Tools; Ergonomics; Equipment-design; Author Keywords: Musculoskeletal disorders; pain; ergonomics; shoulder; dental instrument design; occupational; intervention; periodontitis
David Rempel, MD, MPH, Division of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, 1301 S. 46th St., Building 163, Richmond, Calif. 94804
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Email Address
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
Grant-Number-R01-OH-008892; Grant-Number-T42-OH-008429
Issue of Publication
Source Name
The Journal of the American Dental Association
Performing Organization
University of California, San Francisco
Page last reviewed: April 1, 2022
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division