Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Dental Hygiene








Purpose The objective of this study was to compare the effects of ten commercially available instrument handle designs’ mass and diameter on forearm muscle activity during a simulated periodontal scaling experience.

Methods A convenience sample of 25 registered dental hygienists were recruited for this IRB-approved study. Ten commercially available instruments were categorized into four groups based on their masses and diameters: large diameter/light mass, small diameter/light mass, large diameter/heavy mass, and small diameter/heavy mass. Participants were randomized to four instruments with one from each group. Participants scaled with each instrument in a simulated oral environment while muscle activity was collected using surface electromyography. Muscle activity was compared among the four instrument group types.

Results Muscle activity of the flexor digitorum superficialis was not significantly influenced by instrument mass (p=0.60) or diameter (p=0.15). Flexor pollicis longus muscle activity was not significantly influenced by instrument mass (p=0.81); diameter had a significant effect (p=0.001) with smaller diameter instruments producing more muscle activity. For the extensor digitorum communis and extensor carpi radialis brevis, instrument mass did not significantly affect muscle activity (p=0.64, p=0.43), while diameter narrowly failed to reach significance for both muscles (p=0.08, p=0.08); muscle activity for both muscles increased with smaller diameter instruments.

Conclusion Results from this study indicate instrument diameter is more influential than mass on muscle activity generation; small diameter instruments increased muscle activity generation when compared to large diameter instruments. Future research in real-world settings is needed to determine the clinical impact of these findings.


© American Dental Hygienists' Association 2023

Included with the kind written permission of the copyright holders and the lead author.

Original Publication Citation

Suedbeck, J. R., Russell, D., Armitano-Lago, C., & Ludwig, E. A. (2023). The effects of dental hygiene instrument handles on muscle activity production. Journal of Dental Hygiene, 97(5), 143-154.


0000-0001-7681-8042 (Suedbeck), 0000-0001-9130-1172 (Russell), 0000-0002-3275-059X (Ludwig)