Dentistry is a profession full of stressful triggers but there are ways to deal with negative thoughts and feelings and make positive changes

People have different ways of reacting to stress, so a situation that feels stressful to one person may be motivating to someone else. This emotional, physical and mental state is much talked about in relation to dentistry – more often than not about dental phobic patients in whose welfare you have an integral part to play. Your job is to alleviate their fears of the sights, sound and smells of a surgery, realigning their perception of dental care to a more positive level. But who’s caring for the carers? A dental professional does not operate in a void and private lives affect the day-to-day running of a practice just as work can spill over into home life. You work in a complex and challenging environment and deliver dentistry with many constraints – financial, particularly key here – that sometimes seemingly conspire against the team to do this effectively and without stress.


Stress is believed to account for more than 30% of sickness absence in the NHS, costing the service £300-400 million per year. Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. Reports of dentists beset by work problems, suffering with depression and reaching breaking point regularly appear on news media sites. With many lives ending too early, due to the pressures of a chosen professional path, it is important to have some self-awareness when it comes to our own triggers and behavioural responses. While it is not easy to avoid stress, there are ways of managing it. Below are some tips from Noemi Viganó, a counselling psychologist at SilverCloud Health, a leading provider of online therapeutic solutions to support and promote positive behaviour change and mental wellness.

1. Recognise you’re feeling stressed. This can give you the motivation to do something about it.

2. Identify what is causing you stress. Have you experienced any changes or losses in your life recently? Have you had to adjust to a new environment? Have you worked long hours?

3. Find time to relax every day. Your body cannot be stressed and relaxed at the same time. You can learn to control your stress response by learning to tell your body to relax.

4. Stay healthy. When we are under pressure, stressed and tired we tend to lose balance in our lives; you may seek out comfort foods, cut down on exercise or have trouble sleeping. These behaviours can feed stress.

5. Have some fun. This will help you combat stress as well as lifting your mood and helping you to appreciate the good things in your life.

6. Tune-up on your work-life balance. Leave work at work, learn to say no, switch off from phone and emails and forget about perfection.

7. Talk to someone. If you aren’t comfortable about starting a face to face conversation, try using your phone, Skype or an online messenger, or even sending a text.

8. What are your signature strengths? Take time to ask yourself what has helped you to manage stress in the past.

9. Get skilled at beating stress. There are a wide range of tools and tactics available to help you manage stress and bring balance back into your life.