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Feeling stressed out: What dentists can do to combat stress

Blog Author Roz McMullan

Blog Date 18/04/2017


Stress is a reality for a lot of dentists working in all fields of practice, be it general practice, community, hospital, the armed forces, or academia. We know this, because we've been doing some research into extent of the problem and our findings so far, show some concerning trends.

We can, and often do, help ourselves to combat stress, such as talking it over with friends and family, exercise and good sleep routines. But sometimes that is not enough, and there are ways that if we reach out, then others can help to support us.

If we thought we had a chest infection we wouldn't think twice about going to a doctor. So, why is it that if we are stressed, unhappy, or depressed, why do we often think its ok just to ignore it?

Stress is multifactorial, cumulative and unfortunately, long lasting. When it is severe, and untreated, it can lead to burnout, with symptoms such as mental and physical exhaustion, unpredictable mood swings and insomnia, impacting negatively on productivity at work and our personal lives.


Recent research published in the BDJ shows stress can also affect clinical decision-making.

BDA Northern Ireland is taking part in a working group, 'Probing stress in dentistry', which includes us, the Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency (NIMDTA), the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB), the BDA Benevolent Fund, the Public Health Agency (PHA) and the indemnity organisations.


The group aims to raise awareness of the problem of stress in the dental workplace and to highlight support and training available to the dental workforce.


See some of the current courses on offer for dental teams in Northern Ireland.

If you've already done mental first aid training and are thinking of implementing it in your practice or already use it outside dentistry, please let us know; we'd love to hear what you are doing, so we can share good practice.

We are pleased the HSCB and the PHA have agreed to send the "Take 5" resources, to all dental practices in Northern Ireland, we encourage you to display the poster in your workplace and encourage staff to talk about any issues or problems they are having.

The BDA will continue to lobby on your behalf to minimise the work factors that add to your daily stress load, including issues around pay, morale and working conditions.


This is important because it treats the causes of stress, rather than the symptoms.

Roz-McMullan.jpgRoz McMullan

Chair, BDA Northern Ireland Council

Supporting you at work

There are a variety of resources and courses available to dentists on helping to manage stress and ensuring wellbeing in the workplace, take a look at our campaign page for some helpful advice and resources on stress.


Dentists in Northern Ireland can also contact the following organisations for confidential advice or support:


  • Lifeline NI 0808 808 8000
  • Samaritans Belfast (028) 90664422 (local call charges apply)
  • Samaritans National number 116 123 (this number is free to call)