When you think of stress and burnout in the healthcare industry, physicians and specialists tend to come to mind. Paramedics, nurses, and surgeons, too. But there’s one more healthcare professional that can just be as stressed and burnt out as them: dentists.
Dental professionals perceive their industry to be more stressful than other occupations. They can experience moderate to severe stress each day due to different factors, such as time pressures, patient demands, uncooperative patients, concentration and focus issues, and team issues. These stress triggers can affect their personal lives, interfering with their daily activities and interpersonal relationships.
It can get so bad that many of them retire early. In worse cases, they spiral into alcoholism or develop physical health issues, such as cardiovascular problems.
The COVID-19 pandemic thwarted the well-being of dentists even further. Because dental procedures make social distancing impossible, dental clinics faced apprehensive patients and revenue declines. But on a positive note, 60% of dentists say that COVID-19 didn’t impact their decision to retire or continue practicing. That means many dentists will still be around with or without COVID-19, or retire for reasons not related to the pandemic.
If you’re new to the profession, chances are you haven’t taken the toll of your stressful practice yet. So before experiencing the worst, take these career and lifestyle tips to enhance your practice and personal well-being:
1. Let Go of the Things Outside Your Control
Many dentists get burnt out because they blame themselves for things that they can never control. For example, the speed of your business growth. A young dentist with debt wants to grow their business fast, of course, but that’s not going to happen overnight. The economic challenges in your practice aren’t always within your control.
But you can do something to market your services better. You can focus on providing a quality patient experience rather than draining your money on clinic design. While the look of your clinic also plays a role in patient experience, it’s your expertise and advise that patients are going to value at the end of the day.
When patients begin appreciating your practice more, your anxiety, stress, and burnout can lower down, while your productivity and income will surge.
2. Take Sick or Vacation Leaves
The economic pressures in dentistry drive many dentists into thinking that they can’t afford to take a vacation or sick leave. But excluding proper rest in your schedule won’t help. Working while you’re sick or better off somewhere relaxing can only hurt your practice.
Turning down a booking or two every once in a while won’t harm your dental clinic. Every time you get a chance to take a break, grab it. You need to restore your energy and supply your body with nourishment. Being well-rested will reduce your exhaustion at the end of each day.
3. Recognize the Signs of Chronic Stress
Chronic stress isn’t like the usual drop in moods you feel every day. Rather, it’s an internal, biological, physiological, and chemical reaction your nervous system experiences, resulting in symptoms including headaches, forgetfulness, depression, and more.
Sadly, 92% of dentists keep working even when they’re in pain, and 84% fail to seek treatment even after a diagnosis. Again, let go of the economic pressures you can’t control, and take care of yourself. Your profession doesn’t necessarily make you capable of treating your chronic stress or other health problems. Recognize the signs of chronic stress, and give yourself a break before it hurts your practice.
4. Incorporate Technological Innovations in Your Services
If you’re an orthodontist, you’ve probably had patients inconvenienced by some of your procedures. Creating an orthodontic appliance for a patient can take time, stressing both you and your patients out. But you can actually speed up that process, and enjoy longer free times in return.
Look for orthodontic labs that offer top-quality 3D printing for dentistry. 3D printing scans 3D digital model files and converts them into a custom-made appliance. All you have to do afterward is pick it up, or have it delivered by a courier. It’s hassle-free and more convenient for your patients, too.
3D printing and other technological developments in dentistry have been helpful in enhancing the patient experience. And the more you satisfy your patients, the less economic pressures you’ll face.
5. Accept Help
Many stressed-out dentists turned out to be perfectionists. They believe that seeking help is a weakness or admitting failure. But they couldn’t be any more wrong. Even doctors can have their own health and well-being decreased, too. And as such, they need medical attention.
When your stress starts to affect your lifestyle and practice, take a breather and tell yourself that accepting help doesn’t make you any less of a professional. Mental health experts are there to support and help you without judgment. Your loved ones, too. When you prioritize your health and well-being, your career will flourish, and your lifestyle will be more enriching.