Written by: Drew Vanderbrook, DDS (Dallas County Dental Society Member)
Dentistry can be stressful. Stressful on both your body and mind. Physically, we are working in a small, confined area with a high attention to detail and a very small margin of error. Doing that all day, every day, for weeks and years on end can take a toll on your body. Many dentists are forced to retire earlier than they would like due to neck, back, eye or hand issues. Mentally, the ADA Center for Professional Success reports that 75 percent of dentists deal with moderate to severe stress while at work. It can range from a busy schedule, workplace issues with staff and financial burdens to even something as simple as a procedure that didn’t go as well as you would have liked. With all of these stressors, it’s easy to see how many dentists, both young and old, can feel burnout with the profession at some point in their career.
There are few things you can do if you are feeling this way, or just want to prevent some of the common long-term effects of practicing dentistry.
Take care of your body. Regular exercise and stretching is good advice for anyone. When you practice dentistry, it is even more important. Find healthy activities you enjoy that strengthen your core and back like yoga and Pilates. If you end the day with aches and pains, check into ergonomics courses or videos that can help. The ADA center for professional success offers tip sheets for quick stretches and posture break exercises that can be done to prevent or alleviate musculoskeletal issues (see link below).
Be intentional with your time away from the office. Whatever you enjoy doing in your free time, do more of it! Find the right way for you to destress—whether it be to spend time with friends, catch up on a favorite television show, or read a book. Spending time with my family and kids is one of my favorite things to do, and I even changed my practice schedule to allow me to have more time with my kids. It has made a world of difference and has helped me find the right work-life balance.
Find aspects of the profession you enjoy. It sounds easy, but do you find yourself spending the majority of your day doing the procedures you don’t like? Always wanted to learn more about a procedure you don’t have a lot of experience doing? Have you thought about the educational side of dentistry, but never took the leap? Spend some time out of the office taking some CE courses and get more familiar with new equipment or the procedures you want to be doing.
These are just a few ideas to prevent burnout as a dentist. Find what works for you to de-stress and enjoy practicing dentistry for hopefully many more years to come.
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