Caitlin Parsons demonstrates her loupes in her practice.

Ergonomic loupes: Your key to practicing smarter dental hygiene

Feb. 13, 2024
Ergonomic loupes are proving to be game-changers for extending careers in dental hygiene. They help prevent MSDs due to awkward positions.

Dental hygienists know that precision is everything. Whether we're evaluating oral health, performing periodontal procedures, or conducting intraoral cancer screenings, accuracy is crucial. However, the quest for high-quality patient care can take a toll on posture and health. The work we do often requires us to hunch over patients in awkward positions for extended periods. This can result in work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), and in some cases, long-term damage.¹

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), dental professionals are at a higher risk of developing MSDs because of the nature of our work.¹ A recent report showed that 91% of dental hygienists specifically have experienced, or are currently experiencing, an MSD due to their work, with 31% of those hygienists experiencing neck pain and 25% experiencing shoulder pain.² Houston, I think we have a problem.

You might also be interested in: 

Your ergonomic journey: Protect your new hygiene career by prioritizing your health

Enter ergonomic loupes

Ergonomic, or ergo, loupes were designed to upgrade visibility and posture compared to traditional, through-the-lens (TTL) loupes. TTL loupes have been around for decades but have failed to address one big issue that ergo loupes have addressed: cranking our neck to look down into the patient's mouth. With ergo loupes, we can focus on what matters: providing the highest-quality care for patients. These loupes aren’t just a luxury for hygienists; they’re a necessary solution for maintaining patient care, career longevity, and well-being.

Ergonomic loupes for posture and ergonomics

Let's start by talking about the elephant in the room—posture and ergonomics. More often than not, clinicians bend, twist, and get into awkward positions to achieve better visibility into the mouth, and this compromises posture. Over time, this poor posture and positioning can wreak havoc on the musculoskeletal system, leading to chronic pain, discomfort, and even disability.¹

This is why ergo loupes are so important. Their refractive prisms allow the practitioner to sit up straight with zero or minimal neck tilt while maintaining visibility into the patient's mouth. When we avoid tilting our head downward to look into the mouth, we drastically reduce the strain on our neck, shoulders, and back, lowering the chances of developing pain or a work-related injury.¹

In a recent study with dental students and post-graduate students, they compared the stress on eight symmetrical back muscles using Admetec’s ergonomic loupes and traditional, TTL loupes. They found that the ergo loupes activated a more symmetrical use of muscles, as well as reduced muscular peaks and stress on the back. On the other side, they found that TTL loupes require the body to work harder and less efficiently, leading to fatigue, discomfort, a lack of focus, and the potential development of an MSD.³

In addition, because proper posture is required when using ergo loupes, it becomes harder to develop bad habits. The ability to work in the mouth while maintaining a neutral posture and minimizing the risk of awkward positions is a game-changer for our ergonomics and overall well-being.

Practicing smarter with ergonomic loupes

Ergo loupes offer more than just comfort; they have the potential to transform the way you work and the care you give your patients. With a magnified and illuminated view, you can practice with greater accuracy, which allows for better patient outcomes. With greater accuracy comes more efficiency.

The number of dental hygienists who have switched to and stayed with ergo loupes speaks volumes. Many dental pros report reduced discomfort, pain, and fatigue, improved focus, fewer headaches, and an easier time staying in a neutral posture position. This proves that it’s possible to focus on patients without being hindered by pain.

These loupes aren’t just an accessory, they're an opportunity to practice smarter. They elevate your precision, work efficiency, and patient care while protecting and prioritizing your most valuable tool: your health.

Find the right pair of ergonomic loupes

Numerous manufacturers design ergo loupes, but it's crucial to find the pair that aligns with your needs. Consider the following when searching for your next pair.

Magnification: The first decision is to determine the level of magnification you require. Loupes come in various magnification options, ranging from 2.5x to 10x. The goal is to practice comfortably in a neutral posture without straining your neck, back, and eyes.

Quality: Before buying, research the loupe manufacturer. Look for reviews and testimonials from other dental professionals who have used their products. You want to find a balance between a high-quality product and excellent customer support.

Try before you buy: If possible, try on different pairs of ergo loupes before deciding. This hands-on allows you to assess comfort, visibility, design, and overall fit, which will help you find the perfect pair for your specific needs.

Warranty and support: Ensure that the loupes come with a warranty that guarantees assistance if any issues arise. Some companies offer a 30-day warranty, while others offer 90 days.

By taking these steps and conducting thorough research, you'll find the ideal pair of ergo loupes that can significantly enhance your dental hygiene practice. Companies such as Andau Medical, LumaDent, and Designs for Vision all offer high-quality products with excellent support.

In the dynamic world of dental hygiene, quality patient care and practitioner health must go hand-in-hand. Ergo loupes are not merely for visual support; they’re your key to practicing longer and more intelligently. By selecting the right pair of ergo loupes and maintaining good posture and ergonomics in your practice, you're investing in a healthier and happier career.

Editor's note: This article appeared in the Janaury-February 2024 print edition of RDH magazine. Dental hygienists in North America are eligible for a complimentary print subscription. Sign up here.


1. Ergonomics. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Accessed January 10, 2021.

2.Saccucci M, Zumbo G, Mercuri P, et al. Musculoskeletal disorders related to dental hygienist profession. Int J Dent Hyg. 2022;20(3):571-579. doi:10.1111/idh.12596

3. Study shows that ergonomic loupes reduce back and neck strain for dental professionals. Dental Products Report. September 28, 2022. Accessed October 20, 2023.

Caitlin Parsons, RDH, is a hygienist, yoga therapist, and an ergonomics consultant for dental professionals. Caitlin helps hygienists avoid pain through therapeutic yoga, ergonomics, and healthy habits.