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Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome in Dentistry

hand arm vibration syndrome

The excessive vibration of improperly maintained dental handpieces could result in the development of Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome among dental practitioners.

Dental handpieces that are not properly maintained over the duration of their lifetime are quite likely to develop a higher-than-normal rate of vibration.

In some instances, the excess vibration is very subtle.

In other instances, it may be so obvious that it starts to impact the comfort and general health of the practitioner.

In the most severe of cases, excessive vibration has the potential to result in the development of hand-arm vibration syndrome.

What is Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome?

Hand-arm vibration syndrome – often referred to as “HAVS” – is a medical condition that is extremely painful and could result in disability. It affects the arms, the hands, and the fingers.

It is caused by prolonged exposure to vibrations from certain types of hand tools – such as improperly maintained dental handpieces.

This condition was first identified in the mid-1980s, where it was deemed a possible occupational hazard among those that utilize tools that vibrate.

While dental handpieces typically have a small amount of vibration during operation, excessive vibrations may occur when the dental handpiece is not properly maintained or when internal components of the dental tool are failing.

What are the Symptoms of Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome?

When the condition first starts, a practitioner is likely to notice a sensation of both numbness and tingling within the fingers. Immediately thereafter, swelling may occur.

When cold, the hands may turn white. When warm, the fingers may turn red.

Sufferers often find that cold weather and wet weather result in a larger number of symptoms and a higher level of discomfort. Practitioners that experience HAVS may find that they lose their ability to grip and that the strength in their hands starts to dwindle.

Pain, tingling sensations, and numbness will impact the hands and the arms. The symptoms of this condition can result in the development of insomnia and the inability to effectively perform the tasks of employment.

What is the Treatment for Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome?

In the earliest stages of HAVS, dental practitioners are encouraged to reduce their exposure to the dental handpieces that are causing the condition. In most cases, having the dental handpiece maintained and repaired will eliminate the excess vibration and will help in reversing the symptoms of hand-arm vibration syndrome.

Doctors may prescribe an antihypertensive-based medication – such as a calcium channel blocker – in order to treat the condition. It is best to eliminate the source of vibration before initiating medication treatment. In the case of dental practitioners, simply repairing a dental handpiece is all that needs to be done.

Let Us Help

We here at Hughes Dental are committed to providing you with the highest level of customer service and at the best of prices. Our family-owned practice specializes in dental handpiece maintenance, dental handpiece repair, and products that will help ensure your practice is running optimally at all times.

If you would like more information about unusual dental handpiece vibrations and what we have to offer, you may contact us today by calling:


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