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How To Develop Steady Hands To Help You In The Dental Office

May 13, 2016

Author: Amber Metro-Sanchez

It is essential that your manual dexterity is developed and doesn't waiver, in order for you to be effective and confident every day.

As a dental hygienist, it's easy to take for granted all the things your hands do every day. They're your lifeline in your profession and allow you to provide high-quality care to your patients on an ongoing basis. Whether you're charting, scaling teeth, polishing or drafting chart notes, you are constantly and willingly hands-on.

Oftentimes, however, you don't even think about how to get steady hands; you just perform your job as expected. Working in the limited space of a patient's mouth requires a high degree of precision. The Indiana University School of Dentistry realizes this skill set is a necessity to work in dentistry. For this reason, it is essential that your manual dexterity is developed and doesn't waiver, in order for you to be effective and confident every day.

Beyond what we are expected to do in the office, however, it's worth considering some ideas to help keep your hands at their steadiest. Here's how to get steady hands through numerous fun activities that indulge your more creative side.

Try Something New

Being a dental hygienist requires you to know exactly where an instrument is going before you even pick it up. There are many activities outside of the workplace that allow you to further develop these skills while having a little fun at the same time. Hobbies such as nail design, cake decorating and jewelry-making all require the hand-eye coordination that made you the successful RDH you are. These types of activities also allow you to share and show off your skills to others in a way you can't in the office.

Write with Style

One of the most basic tasks RDHs can overlook is the importance of handwriting. This still requires manual dexterity, but is being used less over time as more of your practice's records become digital. You still need to have flexible hands though, and as a result, you have to make a conscious effort to retain that ability. When out of the office, practice writing in cursive to give a unique touch to the more personal aspects of your life. Want to go one step further? Consider learning calligraphy, an art form that requires the steadiest of hands and never fails to impress.

Get Artistic

Another key part of having steady hands is continually improving your fine motor skills. Activities such as painting, sketching and sculpting help you to express yourself through what your hands can create, as well as fine-tune your hand movements. If a certain genre of music interests you, brush up on - or learn - an available instrument such as the piano or guitar, both of which increase fine motor skills. Remember, every movement matters and is purposeful in some way when meeting with a patient. Whatever result you create with your hands is an expression of you.

As a dental hygienist, you work in a profession where your hands are your greatest asset. When working on your patients, there is also a very delicate balance between having the strength to remove tenacious deposits if you're using a hand instrument and being able to control the direction of an instrument down to the millimeter. Developing your skills with creative and fun activities outside of the workplace can help you keep and develop fine motor skills that will help you as a healthcare professional overall.


  • Pick up a new hobby to keep your hands limber.
  • Crafts like calligraphy take a lot of manual dexterity and focus.
  • You can improve your fine motor skills with artistic pursuits like painting and sculpting.

Why It's Valuable

Your hands are your lifeline in dentistry. When your fine motor skills are developed to their fullest potential, calculus is removed more effectively with less chance of tissue injury. Patients will appreciate your steady hands. By keeping your hands working as smoothly and efficiently as possible, you can solidify your role with patients as the dental hygienist with the trusted touch.

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