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ERGONOMIC PRACTICE IN DENTAL CLINICS AND MUSCULOSKELETAL DISORDERS AMONG DENTISTS IN GEORGIA.

The dental profession is associated with occupational health problems. The working environment of a dentist is associated with ergonomic risk factors that can significantly reduce the dentist's working ability and even cause the termination of his/her professional activity. Numerous studies have been conducted in different countries (Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Australia, etc.) to assess the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders in dentists, though no studies related to the principles of ergonomics in dentistry have been carried out in Georgia. The study aimed to assess the ergonomics of the working environment of dentists in Tbilisi (capital city of Georgia) clinics and to identify the prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders among them. An observational descriptive study was conducted in April-July 2023 in Tbilisi. A special questionnaire of 40 questions was designed based on international experience. The survey was conducted by random sampling in selected dental clinics. Dentists were asked to fill out the questionnaire during their free time between patient appointments. Those who agreed to participate were provided with electronic versions of the questionnaire. Five hundred dentists were invited to participate in the survey, of whom 314 (62.8%) agreed to fill out the questionnaire. A total of 291 fully completed questionnaires were used for the descriptive statistical analysis. Our study shows that in Tbilisi clinics dentists work on average for 5-6 days (48.8% - 6 days, 37.1% - 5 days) or 40-48 hours a week. A majority of respondents said their workplace met the requirements of ergonomics (it had a good lighting, the chair had a back, instruments could be easily reached), yet most of them rarely lean on the backrest, never or rarely use the hand rest method, and never or rarely do light physical exercise during breaks. The survey shows that 53.6% of dentists most frequently suffer from pain in the back, followed by pain in the neck (50.9%), shoulders (47.9%) and lower back (47.1%). Most of them said they had to work less because of the pain. Introduction of the principles of ergonomics in dental profession is vital for preventing occupational musculoskeletal disorders. It is important to provide continuing professional development programs and information booklets for dentists and thematic online webinars for the management of dental clinics in Georgia.

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