Published Articles

Saddle Stool in Dentistry
A healthy and comfortable way to sit

Veli-Jussi Jalkanen
Sitting ergonomics specialist

Identifying personal sitting disorders
While some dental professionals have insufficient knowledge to recognize or manage sitting disorders, others realize that back pain and shoulder tension have a lot to do with sitting. Poor circulation in the lower extremities; shortage of oxygen; hip, knee and shoulder joint problems; sitting fatigue, and genital health problems are some that belong to the large group of SDs (Sitting Disorders). All people working in dentistry are affected by these disorders whether they are aware of them or not.

Many of those who are aware of SDs usually like to improve the situation and look for a more healthy, productive and comfortable way to work.

healthy postureA healthy posture for long term sitting:

  • Good, relaxed posture, balanced and without harmful supports
  • Thighs 90° apart and pointing down enough to keep the upper body in balance
  • Close to 135° angles in hips and knees
  • Weight on sitting bones, not on muscles
  • No pressure on the genitals under the hip (especially for men)

This ideal position can be obtained with a saddle stool

Sitting on a saddle stool is based …

… on the 'sit' bones of your pelvis, which are located under the hip. They keep the buttocks and thighs from being pressed against the seat if they have firm support. Thighs point down at a 45 degree angle, tilting the pelvis to a near neutral position, as in standing. This allows the lower back and upper body to find its relaxed, natural posture without the need for a backrest. Feet rest on the floor on both sides of the body as if you were riding on horseback. This way it is easy to use operate pedals with your feet - they must be placed on the side (they can be operated with even more relaxed muscles by keeping your heel on the floor).saddle-stool-in-dentistry

General benefits from a saddle stool in dentistry

  • Good, natural and relaxed posture which also keeps improving for years
  • Relaxed shoulder area tension by allowing lower positioning of the patient
  • Relieving or eliminating lower back pain (oftentimes it disappears in a week)
  • Preventing fatigue and improving productivity through deeper breathing
  • Preventing shoulder, hip and knee joint problems, anglesare more naturaljoint problems
  • Easier movements and good working positions
  • Improved circulation in lower extremities  prevents varicose vein + cellulite built up
  • Easy visibility into the mouth comes from leaning forward with a  straight back
  • Working at close distance (also the assistant) with legs under the hoisted chair

Easy rolling and turning makes picking materials fast and effortless

A divided seat is helpful…
… because the free space allows proper pelvis/hip position without pressure and the discomfort in the soft tissues which are on the pubic bone. For males (who´s back side of the pubic bone is much further back than that of females) a divided seat is a safer solution in the long run. Pressure on the pudendal nerve and circulation in tissues on the pubic bone can lead to (common) erectile dysfunctions. Loose, light and stretching trousers are highly recommended for males on any seats.  With females, the additional advantage is degreased growth of bacteria through better ventilation, lower humidity and temperature in the genital area. This has a positive effect on the infection fate.

Difficult positions…
…like working on posterior teeth, looking at x-rays, surgery, large-chested patients, patients who cannot tolerate supine position, etc. become easier because of the more natural, relaxed and free sitting. 

should joint problemsIn surgery and other long lasting operations…
…benefits of good sitting become more obvious. Hands-free height control (accessory) keeps the gloves clean and is very helpful in maintaining the welfare of your body and accuracy of your work while you change positions and sitting height in the middle of a long procedure.

Shoulder joint problems...
…often come from elevated or abducted shoulder postures, which stress the shoulder joint. A riding-like sitting position allows lower positioning of the patient, which improves shoulder posture.

Sitting down and standing up…
…is easy because on a saddle stool you are half way up already. Sitting down could not be any more fluent since the backrest is never in the way. You just lift your leg over the seat from the back and sit down. This kind of mounting puts you instantly into the right kind of relaxed sitting position with good posture. (In the picture she has just stood up)

Entering computer data in the operatory…
…is more fluent and time-saving when you can roll back and forth fast and easily with your saddle chair. The movements you do while using the chair keep your muscle active thus improving your metabolism.

scandinavian working conceptThe Scandinavian working concept…
…is shown in the picture.  Oftentimes, both dentist and assistant utilize a saddle stool. Good posture, easy visibility into the patient's mouth, efficient and free movement can all become reality. The saddle stool allows close proximity to the patient, while leaving more room for the legs under the patient. This method of working dramatically decreases problems for both the dentist and assistant, and is becoming the most common way to sit and work in dentistry in Scandinavia.

Adapting to a saddle chair takes some effort…
…because almost everything changes. The body needs time to adjust. Learning to use the saddle chair takes a few days and the "saddle soreness" in the butt and inner thighs as well as tiredness in the back muscles lasts 2-14 days.saddle soreness

It is worth it, but…

…nothing comes for free. Financially, the change is cheap. But most importantly, you need to learn about sitting physiology to get motivated to change, change your working movements and positions and tolerate temporary discomfort.

As a return you may realize a healthier body, better posture, higher productivity (more patients with the same energy), improved quality of work and more satisfying years at work.

You can reach Mr. Jalkanen at:
Salli Systems
Tel: +358 400 763 700,


Saddle stool contacts:

Salli Systems -

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Scandex Saddle Stools -

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