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Press release: Concern over dentists' health and wellbeing

10 December 2019

Dental professionals in New Zealand are at risk of burnout - according to New Zealand’s leading dental protection organisation.

A Dental Protection survey of dentists in New Zealand reveals that over one in three dentists (32%) have considered leaving the profession for reasons of wellbeing and 30% of respondents are not satisfied with their work/life balance.

In its new report – “Breaking the burnout cycle” – Dental Protection says burnout is not only bad for the dental practitioner concerned, but also for patients and the wider dental team. It calls on dental practitioners to ensure they are aware of the risks and consequences of burnout, and how to recognise signs of burnout in themselves.

The report also calls for dental practitioners’ wellbeing to become a priority in practice objectives, alongside providing good care and other patient focussed performance measures.

Raj Rattan, Dental Director at Dental Protection said:

“Most dentists would agree that dentistry is a very rewarding profession. As dentists, we are able to contribute to the health and quality of life of individuals which gives us all an enormous sense of satisfaction. However, I have witnessed increasing levels of disengagement in dentists which can contribute to burnout.

“This is extremely concerning – Dental Protection supports dentists dealing with burnout and we see the impact it has not only on the individual dentist but also on the whole team, and on patient care.

“There must be a common effort to tackle burnout and make wellbeing a priority in all organisations – large and small. This means putting measures in place to create a culture which allows dentists to take care of their health and wellbeing and feel it is a priority.”

One anonymous Dental Protection member added: “Dentistry is a very highly demanding technical job, but arguably an even more demanding people job as well. I think most of my colleagues work longer and harder than they would like to but cannot work less usually as a duty to their patients and communities rather than for financial reasons.”

Another member commented on this pressing issue stating that dentistry is “highly stressful” with pressure from patients and managers which can damage dentists’ mental health.


Notes to editors

For further information contact: [email protected] (+44) 207 640 5183 or [email protected].

  • The Dental Protection member survey ran from 11 June and 25 June 2019 and received 290 responses from dentists in New Zealand.
  • The full policy report Breaking the burnout cycle can be read here.
  • Burnout definition: Burnout is characterised by mental, physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism, increased detachment and a decline in professional satisfaction caused by multiple factors. These contributing factors can exist at a personal, team and wider system level. Burnout is not the same as depression, they have different diagnostic criteria with different treatment. Burnout improves with a break or time away, depression does not. Burnout is a problem that is specific to the work context, in contrast to depression, which tends to pervade every domain of a person’s life.
  • MPS runs a Building resilience, avoiding burnout (BRAB) workshop. This workshop helps to recognise the signs of burnout and gives the knowledge and confidence to manage the symptoms to recover as well as prevent reoccurrence. Find out more here.

MPS key recommendations:

  • Every dentist in New Zealand should be trained on recognising burnout in themselves, and the risks and consequences of it.
  • Corporate objectives should include wellbeing, to demonstrate commitment from the top, putting measures in place to make rest and recovery periods the norm.
  • The department of health should ensure that funding is available to provide counselling services if burnout has already occurred.
  • Provide scholars with obligatory training in general wellbeing in the workplace, in building resilience, speaking up for safety, and how to develop good individual coping strategies.