Facts that shakes you up

KaVo Dental AB has reviewed several studies regarding occupational injuries among dentists. So far we have been able to report damage to the hearing, however, this time it is about hand and arm vibrations. Several studies indicate that dentists are overrepresented in suffering nerve and vascular damage, also called white fingers or Raynaud’s phenomenon. Pain, decreased sensation and numbness are some of the most common symptoms. Long-term exposure can also lead to more severe manifestations such as muscle weakness and reduced mobility in the hands and arms.


A widespread health and safety problem.

Vibrations from work equipment are a problem in many workplaces today. Dentists are one of the professional groups exposed to what is referred to as hand and arm vibrations. Unlike other professions where tasks can be varied to reduce exposure to vibrations, dentists are particularly vulnerable because the use of vibrating instruments is essential for practising their profession.

Handheld instruments, such as turbines, cause injuries caused by vibration because they are used for a significant portion of the workday, thereby increasing exposure over time. 

The Work Environment Authorities in the Nordic countries recommend a maximum vibration load of 2.5 m/s² during an 8-hour working day. There is a lot of talk about larger and more powerful vibration tools in the construction sector, for example. 

However, the Centre for Occupational and Environmental Medicine in Region Stockholm states in one of its fact sheets that even professional groups who use light tools with high vibration frequency are at risk, such as dentists and dental technicians.

A study points to dentists as a highly vulnerable professional group – warns of irreversible damage.

In a study published in 2021, as many as 83% reported experiencing musculoskeletal pain in the upper body regions. A strongly contributing factor to this is believed to be long-term exposure to vibrating handheld tools. The pain often occurs in combination with white and cold fingers along with impaired sensation.

There have also been reports of additional possible correlations between white fingers and hearing impairment, which is particularly interesting for the professional group of dentists who are overrepresented in studies on both hearing impairment and injuries caused by vibration. You can read more about dental professionals and hearing impairment here >> 

Reduced exposure is recommended 

The Work Environment Authorities in several Nordic countries states that if the vibration exposure of one or more workers exceeds the action value, you as employer are obliged to take action. 

We at KaVo understand that a reduction in the use of instruments can be difficult for the dental profession. In such cases, a more feasible effort may be to invest in equipment with low vibrations, thus reducing the overall exposure.

KaVo's Technical Manager Roland Becker talks about how KaVo’s high quality instruments reduce vibrations.

“Vibration occurs when mechanical components are set in motion. The more precisely an instrument is composed, the fewer vibrations it generates. The tighter the tolerance deviations, the better. Cheap instruments often come at the expense of not having the same level of precision in their components. There will simply be more play in both ball bearings and gears. The more play, the greater the vibration,” Roland Becker, Technical Manager at KaVo Dental Sweden, says.

Read the full interview with Roland here ->

“The better the quality of the instruments, the more you can bring down the levels of vibrations. One could compare it to the difference between an expensive artisan watch of a premium brand and a cheaper variant, there is much more handwork in the premium watch. The craftsmanship makes it more expensive but it is much better composed. The same applies to our equipment. A lot is done by hand and the rotation is measured individually for each component for maximum precision. Everything is assembled and measured piece by piece in accordance with our strict requirements specification. This results in a better product with less vibration as a positive consequence,” Roland Becker, Technical Manager at KaVo Dental Sweden says.

KaVo's instrument scored best in test in an independent comparison.

In an independent comparison conducted by RISE (on behalf of a tender for Region Jönköping, Sweden), our instruments received the highest rating. It states that both the vibration level and the rotational speed of the turbine from KaVo are lower compared to our competitors. 

You can read more about hand and arm vibrations, guidelines from Work Environment Authorities in the Nordic countries and our products at kavo.com.

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