To Every Dentist Who Feels Like They’re Failing

Facing and overcoming challenges as a general or pediatric dentist.

There are few emotions quite as overwhelming and debilitating as the feeling like the feeling that one is failing at their business. It’s safe to say that, at some point, every successful dentist is going to experience such a moment in their career. In fact, most will experience a few occasions of self-doubt, frustration, and or even a faint feeling of regret over the career they’ve chosen.

If you’ve found yourself in such a situation, it means you have an opportunity. An opportunity to reflect on your success in your career thus far, acknowledge where you can do better, and find new ways to continue growing your passion for providing exceptional dental care.

Here are 5 things to do when you feel like you’re failing as a dentist.

1. Confront your fear of failing in a productive, healthy manner.

The fear of failing can lead you to question your capabilities, your intelligence, and your decision to be a dentist. It also leads dentists to worry about their future and not being able to keep up with the changes of an ever-evolving industry. Avoiding confronting these negative feelings can even begin to impact your physical wellness in the form of illness, headaches, and stomach pain.

Grab a piece of paper, set aside an hour of uninterrupted time, and write down what fears you’re experiencing. What areas in your career are you afraid to fail in? Maybe it’s in running your business or your own education. For others, it may involve being afraid to fail their team or their patients. From there you can begin to confront each fear and determine whether it’s a realistic concern or not, and if so, how to prevent the fear from becoming reality.

2. Remind yourself why you chose to become a dentist in the first place.

As frustrated and overwhelmed as you might feel right now, not long ago you were passionately dedicated to providing the highest level of dental care possible. You were motivated in this endeavor and chose to dedicate yourself to helping patients achieve beautiful, healthy smiles. This part of you is still there, even though it can be difficult to see or feel.

Focusing too much on the past isn’t usually helpful, but in this situation, taking a walk down memory lane can be just what you need. Reminisce on when you decided to become a dentist and the efforts you put towards your education. Think about when you joined a practice as an associate or opened your very own private practice. Look through your patient portfolio to see the incredible before-and-afters of rewarding cases.

3. Reach out to your team and be aware of “Do Everything By Myself” burnout.

Choosing to become a dentist isn’t for the faint of heart. The sheer amount of dedication and work it takes to succeed is astounding. For that reason, it isn’t a surprise that many dentists can often struggle with delegation as they naturally want to be in control of what’s happening.

The majority of dentists—especially private practice owners—are natural-born leaders. With that often comes the “Do Everything By Myself” mentality that can be very difficult to overcome. Unfortunately, trying to juggle every task by yourself is not only unfair to your team, it’s unfair to yourself. Eventually, it’s going to lead to burnout.

If your feelings of failure are being caused by “failing” to do enough, chances are you’re simply not delegating enough tasks or responsibilities to your very capable team.

4. Make time to put down the dentist identity and do the things you enjoy.

Feeling like you’re failing often seeps into other areas of your life. Fear of failing as a dentist and that negative mindset often leads to feeling like you’re failing as a person, a parent, a spouse, and more. Being a dentist is something to absolutely be proud of, but not to the extent that you forget who you are when your white coat isn’t on.

Self-care is one of the most powerful things you can do for yourself, both as a person and as a successful dentist. Treat your days off like days off. Pursue your hobbies and personal interests. Make time to play with your kids or go out with friends and family. Maintaining a healthy personal life adds more positivity, passion, and joy to your professional life than you might think.

5. Reignite your passion for dentistry by pursuing new skills and services.

Sometimes feeling like you’re failing stems from not doing too much, but rather not spending enough time doing new things. If your frustration includes feelings like, “I’m not doing enough for my patients” or “I’m not feeling excited about being a dentist,” you should consider investing your time in a new skill or service you can offer in your practice.

Continuing education is important for dentists for so many reasons. It not only encourages consistent growth but also helps dentists keep their passion ignited. For a very rewarding challenge, consider learning an entirely new form of dentistry, such as straight wire orthodontics.

Comprehensive Straight Wire Courses through the American Orthodontic Society

The American Orthodontic Society provides courses in basic and intermediate straight wire orthodontics designed specifically for pediatric and general dentists. By the end of the course, you’ll be able to confidently offer an exciting new service for your patients and treat the majority of orthodontic cases seen in dental practices. You can find more information about the American Orthodontic Society right here.

Reigniting your passion for dentistry by expanding your skill set or remembering why you became a dentist in the first place can help displace that fear of failing. The important thing to remember is that there are steps you can take to combat these feelings, and potentially enrich neglected areas of your life at the same time. 

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

March 1-2, 2024

AOS Event Center
1785 State Highway 26
Grapevine, Texas 76051

1st Session: March 8-10, 2024

AOS Event Center
1785 State Highway 26
Grapevine, Texas 76051

April 12-13, 2024

AOS Event Center
1785 State Highway 26
Grapevine, Texas 76051

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