Work related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) are common among dentists and possibly caused by prolonged static load. The aim of this study was to assess the contraction pattern of neck and shoulder muscles of orthodontists in natural environments. Electromyographic (EMG) activity of right sternocleidomastoid and trapezius muscles were recorded by means of portable recorders in eight orthodontists during working conditions, and both active and resting non-working conditions. Recordings were analysed in terms of contraction episode (CE) count, amplitude, and duration. The sternocleidomastoid and trapezius muscles contracted about 40-70times per hour in the natural environment. Their EMG activity pattern mainly consisted of short-lasting, low-amplitude CEs. The counts and amplitude of sternocleidomastoid CEs did not differ across vocational and non-vocational conditions. The number and amplitude of trapezius CEs were slightly but significantly higher during the vocational condition. There were highly significant (p<0.001) differences in duration of CEs across conditions, with two to threefold increase in the average duration of trapezius muscle contractions found in the vocational setting. During orthodontic work, operators commonly hold muscular contractions for significantly longer periods than are encountered in non-vocational settings. This behaviour may be associated causally with the increases seen in WMSDs through proposed pathophysiological mechanisms occurring at the motor unit level. Our findings may also be valid for other occupations characterised by seated static postures with precision hand and wrist movements.