Dental Disability related to orthopedic injuries is a huge problem for dentistry today. It truly is a silent career killer. Orthopedic injuries top the list of likely reasons you may be forced to quit the practice of dentistry. In addition, they are very difficult to prove to your disability insurance company. This double blow makes preparation even more important to a practicing dentist.
If you are injured or just have a sore neck or back, sit back and really think. Are you own the road to disability already? Of course you can always have an operation. Understand surgery is a last resort for orthopedic problems and often will not get you back to 100%. You may be fortunate enough get out of pain, but can you still function. The meticulous nature of dentistry demands your full best effort at all times. Compromises often lead to disaster. This is a really BIG PROBLEM FOR DENTISTRY and is not going away anytime soon.
Before you make the decision to reduce your hours, limit your procedures, or cut back in any way due to your orthopedic pain or limitations; take the time to fully research the implications of you decision. You do not need an attorney yet, but you will need one at some point if you consider that a disability claim may be in your future. The actions you take now, and the trend of work that you establish can have tremendous repercussions in the claims process. Do your homework and diligently research the topic.
AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION IS WORTH A POUND OF CURE. Best to head your neck or back problems off at the pass. Ergonomics is now key component of dental education. Years ago dentists just suffered through the pain. Now we know best practice policies and positioning can extend the functional life of practitioners indefinitely with sound effort and dedication. There IS A MOUNTAIN OF DATA AVAILABLE on orthopedic dental injuries. In the end does it really matter whether you have lymphoma or fused neck? You will still be out of work for some time, and very important decisions regarding your practice need to be made. See our posting on the ten steps to survive disability.FEAR MAKES THE WOLF BIGGER THAN HE IS-TEN STEPS TO SURVIVE DISABILITY
Take the time to learn about ergonomics and dentistry. It has the potential to extend your effective career length. You will need to make an honest effort and develop a daily routine. The key to these injuries is repetition and poor posture/positioning. It will take some time to adjust to, but it will work. You dedication to your health will reward your family, patients, and staff. Take a look at this video on ergonomics for a start.
Proper dental posture and patient positioning are only a start. Use them as a guide to help your hygienists, assistance, and other staff to extend their careers too. The ADA has resources available on their website on ergonomics. Use the information provided to get moving. Disability support will come soon with our efforts on the national level. We will keep you posted on our progress to help disabled dentists nationwide. REMEMBER TO STRETCH AND EXERCISE DAILY JUST LIKE THE PROS DO BEFORE A GAME.