The prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders among dentists in KwaZulu - Natal
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Occupational hazards in dentistry can result in injuries and reduced income if work -time is lost. Injuries include percutaneous insults, inhalation of noxious chemicals, hearing loss and musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). The prevalence of MSD among South African dentists is uncertain. This descriptive, cross-sectional study was conducted to determine that prevalence and associated risk factors among dentists in KwaZulu - Natal (KZN), South Africa. A convenience sample (n = 350) of dentists registered with the South African Dental Association (SADA) were sent a questionnaire interrogating their medical and work history and their work-related posture. One hundred and nine (31%) responded. Almost all (99.1%) reported pain in the hands, neck, lower back and / or a shoulder, while 22.5% reported hand symptoms. Nearly three quarters (73.6%) rotated their necks during clinical work and 68.6% tilted a shoulder towards their dominant hand. A strong association (p value = 0) was found between the number of years in practice and work-related pain in the neck. The prevalence of MSD was very high when compared with international data. Self - recognition is most important in preventing occupational injuries. This study suggests the need to include ergonomic work practice during training to create awareness of the risk of MSD and to promote wellbeing.