How to be a happy dentist: 5 tips to make you smile

For dental professionals it’s easy to get stuck in a routine and pass over the small things that could make you and your staff smile a little more. Whether it’s finding the solution for stress in between back-to-back appointments, finding harmony within your office, taking care of yourself, or finding a larger purpose, we have 5 tips to be (or stay!) a happy dentist; just in time for the International Day of Happiness!

1. Breathe

Mindfulness meditation has been found to reduce anxiety and depression, aid sleep, and lead to overall changes that are associated with better mental health and quality of life. Apps like HeadSpace and Insight Timer make keeping a regular practice easy — even something you can do between appointments. And if you need a quick refresh for your nervous system without having time for a 10-minute session, try this: Sit in your chair or stand up with both feet firmly on the ground, close your eyes, and take in 3 deep breaths — in through the nose and out through the mouth.

2. Care personally, challenge directly

If part of your job as a dentist is managing your practice, it can be hard to keep a smile while dealing with office politics. In her book Radical Candor, Kim Scott — a former employee of Google and Apple — talks about a key to having a good professional relationship with your colleagues is to “care personally” and “challenge directly.”

Get to know your staff outside of work over an informal coffee or tea, learn more about their passions and interests. Balance this with the other side of Scott’s mantra, the “challenge directly” aspect: When you need to give feedback (the good, the bad, or the ugly), be clear and to the point. Striking this balance can help make everyone on your team happier — it can even be worth trying with your patients (especially the ones who need to up their brushing or flossing game).

3. Give yourself some TLC

Beyond taking care of your own oral health, treat yourself to a little more self-care in whatever way works best for you. Perhaps it’s getting a pedicure or a full-spa treatment, maybe it’s a quiet Sunday afternoon at the movies, or it could be a long morning run. Whatever gives you a sense of pampering, make a point of scheduling time for it on a regular basis. Being involved in your community beyond your job is a great way to live a more well-rounded life. When your day doesn’t solely focus on your work and your patients, it’s easier to feel a sense of balance and perspective.

4. Try Something New

Changing someone’s life by giving them their dignity back and restoring their smile can bring many smiles and happiness to the whole office. Patients in financial need and who have a permanent disability or  aged 65 or older, or are medically compromised — can be helped right in your own office! Need help finding or screening a needy patient? Click here to learn more about volunteering with Dental Lifeline Network.