All jobs come with a degree of stress; however, the increasing pressures on dentists mean their own needs are often being put on the back-burner.

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Why are dentists facing stress?

Everyone and every profession can encounter stress. For dentists, expectations of quality care and practice can come from both within the profession and from patients. Dentists must also cope with, and respond to, any complaints and the associated General Dental Council (GDC) investigations. Added together and on top of a heavy workload, pressure and stress can build up and impact on their personal and professional lives.

How prolific is the problem?

According to a study by the British Dental Association (2014), 39 per cent of dentists felt stress to a high degree. A Dental Defence Union (DDU) study noted that, amongst 187 dentists who had endured an investigation by the GDC, 59 per cent were concerned about future complaints, 28 per cent had left or considered leaving dentistry, and 14 per cent reported health issues after the toll of the proceedings.

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The rise of stress within the profession

This is not a new trend. In 2000, the Guardian reported findings that 60 per cent of dentists felt depressed, with physical symptoms including headaches and vomiting. A lack of adequate sleep, poor diet or missed meals and the increased use of alcohol or cigarettes can maintain the vicious cycle of stress.

Patients want to feel that they are in safe hands and reassured that their dentist is capable and well-rested. With concerns over complaints, waiting lists and workloads within the NHS, many are turning to private care, such as general dentistry in Leicester provided by practices such as

Practical advice for dentists

The DDU offers advice on coping with investigations and the stress these can cause on a personal and professional level. Physical and mental health should be taken seriously and a GP consulted where appropriate. Dentists should consider confiding in colleagues, which will also generate an arena in which reflection and learning can occur.

Friends and loved ones can be a great source of support despite confidentiality limitations and can prevent stress causing undisclosed tensions and isolation at home. External bodies, such as the Dentists’ Health Support Programme and the British Doctors and Dentists Group, are also available.