This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

An Approach for Designing Dental Tools




Dunn, Jonathan

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Industrial Design


One study from the University of Iowa found 93% of dental hygienists reported at least one musculoskeletal disorder in the past year, and they have one of the highest incidences of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (Anton, 2002). To help prevent, or lessen, the number of these problems, better dental tool designs are needed. This study will explore a process for designing dental tools that considers better ergonomics, FDA and ADA guidelines, and the general design process. But first, several areas of dentistry must be studied, including anatomy, microbiology, and ergonomic problems. To develop a design process for reducing musculoskeletal disorders, one must first understand the need for dental tools. A study of dental microbiology helps with understanding the types of bacteria in the mouth, and the need for removal of the harmful ones. With research showing a direct link between plaque or oral bio-films in the mouth and the plaque that forms in the heart, dental tool design takes on a new importance. Dental anatomy studies will help the designer locate the crucial areas of hidden bacteria in the mouth. It will also show the need for improved dental tools to reach and debride these areas. After concluding the study of anatomy and microbiology, as well as the ergonomic problems facing dental personnel, this thesis will discuss a new approach to designing dental tools to better the dental industry. These tools will include hand, ultrasonic, handheld, and laser design. This tool design approach will suggest ways to aid the dental professional as well as the patient. This could also lead to improved home care product design.