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Features / August 3, 2023

Burnout in dentistry has reached ‘unprecedented levels’

by Rowan Thomas


Nishma Sharma discusses how dentistry can cause burnout and the importance of finding your inner happiness.

The very nature of dentistry, regardless of the sector we are in, means dealing with the public – their expectations, neuroses, past experiences, prejudices, ideas and so on.

This makes it a highly unpredictable field we work in as we are taught how to ‘do teeth’, but not how to ‘do people’. This, along with the highly litigious, over-regulated world we are in, and combined with the way patients perceive us and the way the NHSE treat us, means burnout currently within the profession has reached unprecedented levels.

As a result, this can leave us with a sense of apathy, frustration, futility and fear as we fall out of love with dentistry.

Finding our inner happiness

We seem to believe we are dentists first and foremost, and humans with wants and needs secondary to this. We must remember that dentistry is what we do, not who we are, and we need to nurture our relationship with it like any other.

For example, laying down boundaries, ie not taking things home with us, investing energy into upskilling to pull more enjoyment from it, respecting it is a job like any other and not expecting it to define us and allowing our identity to depend on it.

Social media has placed immense pressure on us all to be gods of tooth-porn, but it is unrealistic to think we can be someone else’s greatest talent every day.

We all have special gifts, each and every one of us. We don’t need to beat ourselves up for not being the best at everything.

Also, we seem to be a profession full of perfectionists. We need to recognise and learn how to find our inner happiness by remembering how awesome and privileged we are to be a part of such a prestigious club and be thankful for all that we have.

Nishma will be discussing ‘Finding the elusive ICP (inner calm and peace)’ at the Irish Dentistry Show this year. Taking place on 9 September 2023 at RDS Dublin, it’s expected to have the highest attendance so far.

And best of all, it’s completely free to attend. Click here to register!

As well as this, the show has been organised to coincide with the Irish Dentistry Awards in the evening. This means you can both engage with celebrate dental excellence in Ireland all in one day. 

For more information about the awards, click here.

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