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By Wesleyan

Importance of mental health and wellbeing in dentistry

financial wellbeing
6 min
Dentist wearing mask and white coat treating patient

Our state of mental health plays an important role in how we relate to others, handle stress and in our decision-making process.

Mental health can affect all of us at some point throughout our lives. It can impact not only on our well-being, but also affect those around us, from our loved ones to our professional lives and into wider society as a whole.

According to a study on work absences due to long term sickness released in February 2024 by insurer Zurich UK and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), "The two main causes of absence were mental health (44%) and musculoskeletal problems (14%), costing the economy a combined £12bn every year."

Having a fulfilling job that you enjoy can have a positive impact on your mental health and general wellbeing. A career in dentistry can be extremely rewarding – working with communities to prevent and treat dental/oral disease and as a dentist, caring for your patients will play a significant role in your life.

There may be times however, when things get on top of you; there are many possible reasons for this, it could be work-related, due to physical health, financial pressures, relationship difficulties, a bereavement or other combined circumstances.

Paying attention to mental health in the workplace has never been so important for dentists and other dental practitioners.

According to NHS Practitioner Health Findings, dentists are, "more likely to suffer from stress-related problems than the general population and, like other medical professionals show twice the suicide rate of the general population."*

This makes it important to take time out to assess your mental health and to look after your well-being.

There are a number of specific work-related factors, that may impact your mental health as a dental professional.

Confined workspace and static posture

The majority of dentists work in small rooms when treating patients, some of which may have no windows or natural light. The dental treatment itself is performed on the mouth - a restricted oral space - treatment is meticulous, involving high levels of concentration and care whilst maintaining a static posture.

Repetitive movement and poor positioning can result in musculoskeletal disorders – something common amongst dentists.

Dentists often experience both physical and mental fatigue after a busy day of treating multiple patients – over time this can take its toll and have a detrimental effect on your mental health.

Clinical decision making

Dentistry is cognitively demanding and involves making important decisions when caring for patients. Many dentists, however, may work in relative isolation without the support of a wider team of colleagues.

Feeling supported in the workplace and having someone to talk things through with, is important to all of us. Working alone in a confined space can be stressful, something which may be heightened when treating fearful or anxious patients.

Work related pressure

Feeling constantly under pressure at work in terms of performance can lead to burnout – a state of physical and emotional exhaustion.

Time pressures can be a key contributing factor here, especially for NHS dentists. Feeling that you do not have enough time to provide patients with the ideal treatment or that there are insufficient funds for the treatment you would like your patients to have, both private and NHS, can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.

Financial worries

Although dentistry enjoys a reputation as a stable and remunerative profession, this doesn’t necessarily eliminate financial worries. Most dentists have self-employed status and need to manage their income and tax bills.

There may be other pressures such as potential clawback from not fulfilling your NHS contract, or the pressures of running an NHS practice.

To excel in your career path, you may have taken out loans to pay for costly training courses. Or if you are a practice owner, it is likely that you needed to borrow money to establish your practice and now have the responsibility of running a business and paying overheads, the costs of equipment, your staff and so forth.

Poor financial management can lead to feeling financially burdened and overloaded, this can have a negative impact on mental health.

Ways to take care of mental health and wellbeing

Staying active

The many physical and psychological benefits of regular exercise and physical activity are well documented. Exercise and movement can help to combat low mood, reduce stress and anxiety, improve your self-esteem, increase energy levels and how mentally alert you feel; building an exercise plan into your week can aid in combating and preventing mental health issues.

Ensuring that you get enough sleep, stay hydrated and eat healthily are also key components of general wellbeing.


Self-compassion and having realistic expectations of oneself can help to improve your mental wellbeing and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.

Making time for yourself to exercise, or to do the things that are important for you and that you enjoy doing, can make a big difference. Learning not to put pressure on yourself and remembering that nobody is perfect are other important aspects of self-compassion.


Mindfulness involves immersing yourself in the present and not worrying about the past or the future.

Making time for mindfulness and practising mindful techniques such as meditation or breathing exercises is not only a good way of finding peace, but it is also a powerful tool for enhancing mental resilience.

Practising mindfulness regularly can help you to remain calm, focused and with a clear mind during stressful situations, helping you to make the best decisions when in clinic.

Financial planning

Ensuring that you are financially protected and have a plan to reach your financial goals can help you to feel more secure, and consequently reduce the risk of poor mental health attributed to financial concerns.

A dental specialist financial adviser can offer support and guidance to help you formulate a solid financial plan to bring greater peace of mind – giving you one less thing to worry about during your free time.

Having professional support can also help to provide peace of mind if you're practice owner. You can ensure your business agreements are fit for purposes, you understand who your key performers of the business are, and also how their absence could potentially impact the business.

Seeking support

It’s important to recognise that you are not alone and that many dentists and other people are currently experiencing or have experienced challenges with their mental health and wellbeing.

Sharing your experiences with other dental professionals who may have had similar experiences can be reassuring. There are a number of organisations who can offer support and guidance for any dentists who are struggling with their mental health.

Opening up about your mental health problems and actively seeking support networks can help you to nurture your own wellbeing. You can also visit the financial wellbeing section for useful tips and information.

For further support and guidance to plan for the financial year ahead, speak to a dental Specialist Financial Adviser at Wesleyan Financial Services by booking a no-obligation financial review.


* NHS Practitioner Health

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