Addressing Dental Burnout

Burnout can occur for any dental professional, but it often is linked to several contributing work-related factors. This may include feelings of being under compensated, a high patient work-load, the physical stress of dentistry, and lack of a professional support system. While being a dentist can offer a plethora of career opportunities, it also has one of the highest rates of career fatigue. The Journal of Industrial Health reported a study that over 84% of dentists responded with feelings of burnout [1]. Below are some tips for dentists to maintain a high quality and long term career.

Healthy Work Environment

The average person spends 90,000 hours or roughly 1/3 of their life at work. [2] Which translates to a lot of time being spent with staff and patients, so it is important to be part of a positive work environment. Some ways to incorporate better teamwork and connectivity is to engage with staff during lunch or outside of the office for team building activities. Being in a practice with a healthy work culture has a direct impact on your productivity and creates a sense of purpose. 

Connect with Colleagues


Many dentists will report how isolating dentistry is because of a lack of professional support. This can be evident in smaller practices or with solo dental owner who have the added responsibility of running a business. This feeling of solitude can further contribute to work burnout so it’s important to feel connected with others in your profession. Joining a local study club or a professional organization like the American Dental Association (ADA) and local dental chapters can help provide a professional and personal support system. 

Diversify your Career Options

Dentistry can become monotonous after many years in private practice. There are many alternative career options for dental professionals to use their skills outside of the clinical practice. This includes becoming a dental instructor at a dental school or residency program, volunteering at a nursing home or hospital, working in clinical research, working as a foreseeing odontologist, and contributing to dental public health. Exploring continuing education courses outside of your scope of practice can help motivate you and give a new perspective in dentistry. 

Invest in Yourself 

Dentists need to make time for themselves outside of practicing. Enjoying new hobbies, spending quality family time, taking a mandatory vacation and exercising are all simple self-care tips on how to improve your quality of life. Carving out intentional down time is important to your productivity. You can’t run on coffee and sugar forever so make time for you! You deserve it.

Speak to a Professional

A dentist can gain much insight by speaking to a mental health professional about positive coping skills and stress management. Several studies show the demanding nature of the dental occupation and how work-stress may have a negative effect on a dentist’s psychological well-being and family life [3]. You can work on professional and personal goals to give you a clear perspective on what type of work-family balance you desire. 

Since dentistry is a demanding career, mentally, physically, and financially, dental professionals need to utilize tools like dental practice management to help them cope and rediscover a passion for dentistry. 



[1] Puriene A Aleksejuniene J Petrauskiene J Balciuniene I Janulyte V . Self-perceived mental health and job satisfaction among Lithuanian dentists. Ind Health 2008;46:247–252.

[2] Gettysburg College, One third of your life is spent at work

[3] Osborne D, Croucher R (1994) Levels of burnout in general dental practitioners in the south-east of England. Brit Dent J 177: 372-377. 


By Dr. Anand, DDS |

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