How to avoid Dentistry Burnout

by | Feb 24, 2020 | Dental Assistant, Dental Hygienists, Dental Job, Dental Professionals, Work Life | 2 comments

I’m going to say it.  Working in dentistry is hard.  It’s a hard career, it’s hard on us mentally, it’s hard on us physically.  We go to an office 8+ hours out of the day, give it our all and then head home, exhausted, and try to have some resemblance of a family/social life.  And then we wake up the next day and do it all over again.  

I was in dentistry for 4 years and decided one day I couldn’t take it anymore.  I left for a whole 8 months, and then came crawling back. Dentistry is hard, but we love it.  We love it so much that we want to stay. Ever since I returned to dentistry 7 years ago, I have learned some ways to avoid the “Dentistry Burnout”  and I am going to share those tips with you today.  

Whether you are a Dental Assistant, Dental Hygienist, Front Office, or the Dentist these tricks will help you stay on track and continue to love your job.  

Trick 1: Stop caring so much

What??!!? Gasp!!  How could you say that?!?!

Let me explain.  

Continue to care about your patients.  Care about your team. Care about doing good work.  

But, please STOP caring about office gossip.  STOP caring about that patient that was upset over something silly (that’s on them, not on you).  STOP caring about decisions that the dentist or office manager made that don’t affect you or your work. STOP caring about all the tiny items that truly don’t matter.

Caring about the wrong things, never helps.  It drains you of your energy and happiness. When you are confronted with something at work, take a look and ask yourself “is this something I should bother with?”  If the answer is no, set it aside and move on with your day.  

Trick 2: Only focus on your duties 

In other words, work smarter not harder.  Whenever I interview dental assistants or hygienists, the ones that sound really frustrated with their jobs are the ones that are doing way too much around the office and not getting the recognition for it.  

Why would they?  If recare calls are the hygiene coordinator’s job, but you are doing it, the hygiene coordinator is going to get the credit and when your dentist tells them good job, they are just going to say thank you.  And you will not get the credit you desire. 

Now, I’m not trying to say every man for himself.  Help your teammates out when needed. But make sure YOUR duties are complete, and YOU are getting a big thank you from your boss before you stress yourself out for duties that are not your own. 

So to be successful with this, know your duties (ask for a review with your doctor or OM if you need to) and do them well.  If a teammate asks for assistants but you still have work on your plate, kindly inform them you are running behind on your own duties and would be happy to assist when done.  

Trick 3: You control your attitude and how you react to things

There seems to be this wild notion out there that our mood, our thoughts, and our feelings are all caused by outside factors.  And when those outside factors affect us, we tend to take our whole dental office down with us.  

But this is so far from the truth.  Repeat after me:

“I control how I react to things.”
“I am in control of my emotions”
“I choose to see things positively, and deflect all negativity that tries to come my way” 

Cause that is the truth.  You decide if you are going to let your Treatment Coodinator’s grumpy mood affect you.  You decide if you feel stressed because the schedule is running behind. You decide is that patient that always puts you in a bad mood, who is coming in today, is going to put you in a bad mood. 

If you can train your mind to think positively, shake off the negativity and be such an amazing force with your happy attitude that you make others happy instead of letting their pissy mood affect you, then you win.  

You are going to feel wonderful throughout the day, and soon you will find that every day is a good day! 

Like I said, this takes work.  

  • Keep positive affirmation (like the ones I listed above) close at hand and read them aloud in the morning or whenever you feel stressed. 
  • Try to get some exercise every day.  This can be as simple as a 10-minute yoga video on youtube in the morning, or a 10-minute walk during your lunch break.
  • Meditate- you can do this on your drive to work. But it will change how your brain functions.
  • Smile for 5 seconds when someone or something starts to frustrate you. Tricks your brain into being happy. 
  • Be aware of your thoughts.  – When those negative ones come in, let yourself have them, then move on.  Don’t let yourself dwell or ruin your whole day over it.  

These work!  Do em. 

Trick 4:  Let your home life be your home life

The best thing about working in dentistry is the moment you walk out of the office, you don’t have to worry about anything else work-related.  Most people aren’t so lucky.  They check their work emails before bed and first thing in the morning.  Work on projects way into the night.  For them, it doesn’t turn off, for us, it is the well-deserved break we need.  And we must use it.  

  • When you get home, take some time to just be present with your loved ones before you start making dinner.
  • Prioritize your spending so you can afford a house cleaner to do all the big chores for you once or twice a month.
  • Make doing laundry a fun family activity, so you can spend more time with your kids. 
  • Have a bedtime routine that helps you relax and gives you some much needed quiet/me time.  

Just leave work at work and don’t let it affect your home life.   


I hope these 4 little tricks help you.  If you have any additional tricks to share, please leave them in the comments!  


If you feel like a new job is what you need to avoid burnout, head to DirectDental today!  


Thanks for reading!