My little brother was interested in Dentistry, but my parents are talking him out of it since my cousin is retiring(trying to sell her practice) only after 10 years secondary to chronic neck and finger pain.
Dentists are very susceptible to those types of injuries. Easily avoidable though if you are using magnification and ergonomic operatory design. many schools have actually integrated this into the curriculum. At my school we occasionally get bonus points for good ergonomics and posture. Makes you constantly think about it cause you never know when those points are going to be handed out.
Still, there are plenty of kids at school that haven't bothered to learn indirect vision and are pretty much standing on their heads to do maxillary restorations.
Secrets dentists use to prevent chronic occupational injuries:
1) Good posture and indirect vision.
2) Patient positioning. It's better to ask the patient to move so you don't have to contort.
3) Adequate-sized handles for instruments. If you are getting finger pain, it means you are exerting too much finger pressure because the handles on your instruments are too darn thin. Companies like Hu-Freidy for example sells instruments like perio scalers with handles up to a nice beefy size 6.
4) Regular exercise and workout, particularly upper-body routines. Builds muscle tone, maintains flexibility, and relieves stress.
My dad has been practicing since 1964. While many of his colleagues have developed the infamous Quasimodo hunchback, he has had no problems.
My sister has been practicing since 2000. She adds "massage therapist" to that list, but I think I can probably do without it.