Four-Handed Dentistry

Double Digits

Dentistry
By adding a dental assistant or hygienist to the practice environment, UAB researchers and clinicians made treatments more efficient and effective.

Dentistry was a lonely profession once. Handling every tool and procedure on their own, dentists spent many uncomfortable hours each workday stooping over patients’ mouths. In the 1960s, though, researchers and clinicians at UAB’s School of Dentistry introduced a second person into the practice environment—and the concept of “four-handed dentistry” was born.

With an assistant to handle instruments and manipulate patients’ mouths, dentists could offer treatments that were much more efficient and effective. And with fully reclining dental chairs becoming standard at the same time, both dentists and hygienists could provide treatment from a seated position. Four-handed dentistry has now become standard practice in clinics around the world—and while patients may take it for granted, dentists certainly don’t.

 

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