The road to becoming a dentist is not an easy one.
Aside from mastering the science and art of caring for patients’ dental and oral health, dental students must make sure they possess and further develop the manual dexterity required of those in the profession.
Without a doubt, a dentist’s hands are their most important physical assets, as they are the lifeline of their profession.
Without steady hands, a dentist would have a hard time providing their patients with the high-quality dental care they need.
It’s hard—even frightening—to imagine a dentist performing dental surgery or dealing with dental emergencies with unsteady hands.
Considering how delicate most of these procedures can get, a dentist having issues with manual dexterity could end up messing up the job, or worse, cause tissue injury to their patients.
If you’re a dentist, dental hygienist, or a practitioner in any healthcare field that requires manual dexterity, you will need to work on keeping your hands steady at all times.
Here are some simple exercises that will help you do just that.
1. Make A Fist
Something as simple as making a fist can already help you improve your range of motion.
As you make a gentle fist with each hand, make sure both your thumbs are wrapped across your fingers.
After one minute, spread your fingers open as wide as possible, as if you were stretching them out.
Make a fist again, and repeat the whole thing three to five times more.
2. Finger Lifts
For finger flexibility and better range of motion as well, you should also do finger lifts regularly.
Start by placing one hand flat and palm down on a table, spreading the fingers moderately.
Begin the exercise by lifting your thumb and holding it in place for a second or two, then lowering it.
Do the same thing with your other fingers. Once done, repeat the exercise with your other hand.
Performing this exercise eight to 10 times for each hand would be ideal.
3. Thumb Circles
This exercise will get a thumbs up from you, literally.
To perform this exercise that aims to keep the tendons in your thumbs loose and flexible, all you have to do is make a “thumbs up” sign, and rotate them gently clockwise first, then counterclockwise, for a few seconds.
You can do this for as long as you’re comfortable, switching directions from time to time.
4. Claw Stretch
Yet another hand exercise that helps improve your fingers’ range of motion, the claw stretch is named as such because it requires you to make your hand look like a claw.
You can do that by bending your fingers inward, making sure their tips make contact with each finger joint’s base. Release after 30 to 60 seconds, and repeat the exercise on each hand at least four times.
5. Wrist Stretch
Our wrists are vulnerable to stiffness and pain, mainly because of repetitive physical activity, which is something dentists are all-too-familiar with on the job.
A wrist stretch helps increase flexibility and reduce the risk of injury.
One way of doing a wrist stretch is to stretch out your left arm in front of you, with your palm facing forward as if telling somebody to stop, and use your right hand to gently pull back on your left hand’s fingers towards your body.
Hold that position for a few seconds before relaxing. Do the same thing with your right arm, with your left hand doing the pulling this time.
To even things out, reverse the position of your hand by turning it downward with your palm facing you, and use the other hand to gently pull on the fingers that are pointing to the ground towards you. Hold that position for a few seconds, then relax.
Perform both stretching exercises ten times for each wrist.
6. Fingertip Touches
Fingertip touches are a simple hand exercise that may seem like a silly game for kids, but they are actually good at giving the tendons in your fingers a good stretch.
Hold up your hand with fingers spread apart, then, using the thumb, touch the tips of the other fingers, starting with your pinky. Follow each touch by opening the hand wide.
Perform this exercise on your other hand, and make sure each hand gets at least three repetitions.
Aside from these exercises, you can also pick up new hobbies that can help keep your hands limber and working with precision, like painting, sculpting, sketching, calligraphy, and even cake decorating.
Success in dentistry requires healthy, supple, and steady hands, which will make removing calculus or performing dental surgery easier and a lot less risky. Perform the above exercises regularly, and your chances of keeping your hands in tiptop shape for dentistry procedures will be so much better.
About Dr. Salwin
Dr. Gary Salwin leads the Glendale Dental Group, Arizona. He and his team treat dental emergencies and perform a whole range of dental services. He has been practicing dentistry for more than 36 years.