This review of the current literature is aimed at examining musculoskeletal disorders in dental hygienists, and investigates the complex nature of this significant occupational health issue. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) have been identified as a significant issue for the profession of dental hygiene. The purpose of this review is to examine and assemble the best evidence on the epidemiology, diagnosis, treatment, interventions, prevention, impact and consequences of MSD among the dental hygiene profession. The prevalence of MSD is alarming, with up to 96% reporting pain, and a number of occupational risk factors have been identified by the literature. Studies investigating interventions are generally limited in their study design, which is concerning given the huge impact MSD can have on the practising dental hygienist. Overall, it is evident from the literature that MSD is a complex and multifactorial problem. However, a complete understanding of the progression of musculoskeletal disorders is still far from being realised, due to the lack of longitudinal studies and standardised research techniques. Future research should implement triangulation methods in longitudinal studies, a strategy which will go a long way in the understanding of this complex occupational health issue.
International Dental Journal Vol. 60, Issue 5, p. 343-352