Dental Career Burnout and the Endless Cycle of Stress: What to Do

Dentists aren’t exempt from career stress and burnout.

Burnout is a major issue across all fields of medicine, particularly in dentistry. Some studies suggest that clinicians can face dental career burnout rates as high as 50%. With so many dentists wrestling with this issue, it’s important to understand its causes and what you can do about it.

From investing in orthodontic CE courses to taking more time for your family and friends, there are numerous strategies that can help you deal with burnout.

The Causes of Burnout

Burnout is common in dentistry and happens when dentists develop a feeling of dissatisfaction and difficulty in their work. There are several key contributing factors that lead to dental career burnout.

The nature of the work itself is one factor. Dentists and other healthcare professionals see patients day in and day out, and many of them are facing serious issues. While helping these people is certainly rewarding, the high stakes involved in providing effective treatment can be stress-inducing.

Dentists also face responsibilities beyond patient treatment. A dental practice is a business, and it brings with it all of the stresses inherent to running a business. Dentists have financial concerns and must also deal with administrative and personnel issues. All of this together can simply be too much.

Many dentists will push themselves too far. In trying to provide treatment for as many patients as possible, they can take on excessive workloads. They can also struggle with delegating to their staff, further increasing the burden they carry. Without effective means to prevent and mitigate this stress, dental career burnout may ensue.

Preventing Burnout

Similar to dental care itself, the most effective thing that dentists can do to combat burnout is to practice prevention. Avoiding burnout in the first place is better than identifying and dealing with it after the fact, and there are several steps that dentists can take to make that a reality.

First, dentists should know their limits. There’s only so much that one person can do. This may mean turning down new patients for a period of time. It could also mean delegating to staff more effectively. There are many routine processes that dentists often choose to handle themselves, despite having perfectly capable staff.

Improving communication within the practice can also significantly reduce the risk of dental career burnout. While continually treating patients can contribute to stress, so can interpersonal strife. Being able to work well with your staff is vital to maintaining a happy and healthy workplace, and fostering an open environment is the way to do so.

Maintaining the right work-life balance is critical as well. If a dentist isn’t taking time for their friends, family, and hobbies, then the balance can shift too far toward work. It can be difficult to balance running a practice and having a personal life, but it’s an essential prerequisite to avoiding dental career burnout.

Recovering from Burnout

Once burnout has taken hold, it can have a serious negative impact on a dentist’s practice and personal life. Implementing effective measures to recover from burnout is the best way to ensure a positive outcome for the dentist, their staff, and their patients.

Many who suffer from burnout turn to simple stress relief practices they can implement throughout the day. Measures like meditation or breathing exercises can help. Paying attention to overall physical health is also important.

Dentists may find it necessary to reduce their workload in order to recover from burnout. This can be a difficult task in itself, as it can mean turning down new patients or even referring some existing patients to other dentists. 

Seeking out the help of a professional therapist to address burnout is also an effective option.

Tackling Burnout with Continued Education

Burnout isn’t just about the nature and volume of work; it’s also about the work’s meaning and context. Continued education options like orthodontics training programs can provide a sense of progression to combat burnout. These orthodontic CE courses can help dentists and their staff feel like they’re always moving forward.

Orthodontics training programs also open the door to providing treatments that are more fulfilling than routine dentistry. Carrying out orthodontic treatments can be highly rewarding, as you follow a patient through their progress and see a noticeable difference in the end results. 

The positive impact the treatments have on your patients will likely be rewarding for you as well!

Orthodontics Training Programs

The American Orthodontic Society provides a range of high-quality courses that give general dentists the skills and knowledge they need to offer orthodontic treatments through their practice. You can browse our courses to find out more.

To learn more about our popular orthodontics courses for pediatric and general dentists, check out one of the upcoming events below.

1st Session: April 26-28, 2024

AOS Institute
1785 State Highway 26
Grapevine, Texas 76051

July 19-21, 2024

AOS Institute
1785 State Highway 26
Grapevine, Texas 76051

August 23-24, 2024

AOS Institute
1785 State Highway 26
Grapevine, Texas 76051

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