• Seona

Handling Stress as a Dentist

Updated: Jul 28, 2021

Stress levels of Dentistry are at an all-time high, while job satisfaction is on the decline1.


As a dentist, there are so many things to focus and worry about;

Running a practice, dealing with team issues, keeping on top of Compliance and regulations, maintaining CPD hours, and Cash flow management and financial planning.


You're worried about providing the best possible care for your patients, who are often fearful and resentful towards you. The high levels of focus and attention to detail that dentistry takes to perform the optimal patient treatment. Thorough treatment planning, only for the patient to turn around and say you're not worth it and are ripping them off.


You're worried about Professional Liability, with dental practitioners having the highest rate of complaints amongst fourteen other health professions (42.7 per 1000 practitioners per year)2.


Dentists also tend to be perfectionists, with educational track records that include high achievement and academic excellence. Which only adds to the stress of having everything "Perfect" in your practice.


Add on outside influences like family, economics, and the uncertainty surrounding COVID and lockdowns and it is no wonder that according to one study, 84% of dentists have reported feelings of burnout.3.


Here are 7 ways to help reduce your stress and start enjoying the art of dentistry again:


1. Self Care.

This one is easier said than done, especially when you are feeling pressed for time! Self-care can include exercise (let's boost those endorphins!), having a massage, meditation, hanging out with friends, and Cognitive therapy.


2. Learn your triggers

Everyone's triggers and responses are different. By being aware and learning what some of your triggers are you will be able to avoid (or limit) being in those situations.


3. Avoid internalizing Patients thoughts

Even though you need to be able to sympathize with patients, you need to be able to switch off and not let the thoughts or perceived thoughts of patients take root in your mind.


4. Connections

When you're feeling anxious and stressed it's easy to want to isolate and hideaway during your downtime. But connections with people can help provide you with the support you need to handle the tension of your job. Catch up for a family meal, have coffee with friends, and connect with other Dentists that know and understand what you are going through.

5. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate.

Delegation is key in the successful running of a practice. Not only will it free your time, but it shows you trust your team, boosting their confidence and skill level.


6. Take a break

There's nothing like a holiday to help reduce stress levels. It doesn't need to be long -even a mini-break will help recharge the batteries and clear the mind.


7. Seek professional help.

If your stress is interfering with your capacity to be happy and lead an emotionally rewarding life, then it may be time to seek professional help. This is especially true if it is persistent.


The impact of not facing your stressors and not doing things to mitigate your stress can be debilitating and lead to burnout and for some, ultimately be fatal.


If you are feeling overwhelmed from stress and/or anxiety, or have noticed a change in your mood, please seek professional help:


MindSpot is a free telephone and online service for people with stress, worry, anxiety, low mood or depression. It provides online assessment and treatment for anxiety and depression. MindSpot is not an emergency or instant response service. Call 1800 61 44 34 AEST, 8am-8pm (Mon-Fri), 8am-6pm (Sat).

Lifeline provides 24-hour crisis counseling, support groups, and suicide prevention services. 13 11 14.

MensLine Australia is a professional telephone and online support and information service for Australian men. Call 1300 78 99 78, 24 hours / 7 days a week.

beyondblue aims to increase awareness of depression and anxiety and reduce stigma. Call 1300 22 4636, 24 hours / 7 days a week


 

References

1. Evans S. Tackling stress and anxiety in the dental profession. Dentistry.co.uk website. http://www.dentistry.co.uk/2015/05/21/tackling-stress-anxiety-dental-profession/.

2. Complaints about dental practitioners: an analysis of 6 years of complaints about dentists, dental prosthetists, oral health therapists, dental therapists, and dental hygienists in Australia. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/adj.12625

3. https://www.dentistrytoday.com/news/todays-dental-news/item/4242-how-to-avoid-dental-burnout

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