Office visits can be stressful -- for the dentist

2015 02 15 23 17 12 996 Madow Brothers 200

We've all heard the urban legends about high dentist suicide rates, but you don't need to get involved to know that dentistry can be a high-stress profession. Factors that contribute to this stress include the following.

People are not excited to see you

Face it: You're not a flower delivery man. Your patients are not delighted to see you and your handpiece (or worse, the syringe) approaching. Yes, you're performing a service that helps keep people healthy, but dentists hardly get the glory and hero worship of, say, that person working in the Apple store.

Richard H. Madow, DDS, and David M. Madow, DDS.Richard H. Madow, DDS, and David M. Madow, DDS.

You spend hours in a small, confined space

You don't have a corner office with an ocean view. You're usually stuck in one spot, sometimes for hours at a time, and the scenery never changes. And even if it does change, going from Room 1 to Room 4 is not exactly shifting from Lake Tahoe to the Ozarks. Boring.

Party of 1

Dentists often practice solo and don't always have other colleagues to commiserate with. Even if you had a dentist's lounge, there would be an echo in there ...

Economic pressure

Because you have the word "doctor" in your title, others may assume that you must be rich. Yes, you probably make a handsome living, but you also have lots of overhead to contend with. While some of your patients and team members might think your biggest worry is which golf club to choose next, the reality is that you may feel the economic crunch as much as they do.

You can't call in sick

Well, you can, but not without causing huge scheduling difficulties and loss of income.


You can't always perform the ideal treatment because of insurance and other limitations of the patient, including their anxiety. The patient wants it done quickly, easily, and cheaply -- you want it done perfectly with adequate compensation. Sometimes you just have to settle for less than perfect.

Wow. Kind of a downer, huh?

OK, take a moment and feel sorry for yourself. We won't even sarcastically offer to call a waaaahmbulance for you while you whine.

“Remember all the reasons why it's great to be a dentist.”

Now, what can you do about all this?

Take care of yourself and make no apologies for it. Take time off when you need it, exercise, relax, and care for your physical and mental health. Remember all the reasons why it's great to be a dentist.

People call you "doctor" and that may even get you the best table at Applebee's. You get to know lots of people in the community, and despite the fact that many of them have said, "I hate the dentist," they usually give you their trust and respect.

You can make a difference every single day. You can take people out of pain. You can calm scared kids (and their moms!). You make people healthy. You make people smile. You understand what words like "distal" mean. Because of you, many people can chew, bite, and kiss better -- often with better breath. You get to prove "healthy mouth = healthy body" each and every day! You get to be a great boss, someone whom your team members like to work for.

Oh, and check this out: In 2013, U.S. News and World Report proclaimed that being a dentist is the best job in the country.

And it certainly can be -- if you take care of your patients, your team members, and yourself.

In 1989, Richard H. Madow, DDS, and David M. Madow, DDS, founded the Madow Brothers with the goal of helping their fellow dentists achieve success and happiness in their practices. For more information about their e-letters, audio series, New Patient Mail marketing program, Dental Powerhouse group, live presentations (including "How To Love Dentistry, Have Fun, and Prosper," "The Ultimate Dental Boot Camp," and especially "TBSE"), and more, check them out at

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

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