A dentist’s work-life balance can be hard to achieve, but it is not impossible. Dentistry is a very important career choice in the dental field. Dental professionals provide important dental care through the evaluation, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases, disorders, and other conditions of the oral cavity and craniomaxillofacial area.
Although dentistry can be a very demanding career, most dentists have great career satisfaction and work-life balance. Careers in dentistry offer a wide range of benefits, such as competitive salaries and a lot of schedule flexibility. Keep on reading if you want to learn what dental professionals do and how you can achieve a good work-life balance as a dentist.
What Is Work-Life Balance?
Work-life balance is when a person can adequately manage the demands of their personal life and their career. Maintaining a good work-life balance as a dentist is not an easy task. Common events that lead to high-stress levels and a poor dentist-work-life balance often stem from increased responsibilities at work or home and not being able to disconnect from work when you are out of the office.
What Does It Mean to Have Work-Life Balance?
Having a good work-life balance as a dentist means being able to balance your personal and professional priorities in a way that works well for you. It doesn’t have to look like spending equal amounts of time at home and at work. Every dental professional is different. While some may want to focus more on their careers, others may want to make more time for personal affairs.
Why Is Work-Life Balance Important for Dentists?
It is important to strive for a good work-life balance as a dentist because this is a career choice that requires good physical and mental health. A poor work-life balance can have negative effects on your health. A current study published by Environment International has shown that people who work over 50 hours have a higher risk of suffering from a stroke or heart disease.
Dentist Job Responsibilities
Dentistry is a very lucrative field in the health industry. Dental professionals provide important oral health services. Among their job duties are diagnosing, treating, and preventing decay, disease, and tooth loss, as well as correcting functional issues through orthodontic treatment.
Assess Oral Health
One of a dentist’s main duties is checking their patients’ teeth and assessing their overall oral health. By performing routine checkups, dentists can diagnose diseases, injuries, and malformations on their patients’ teeth and mouth, to create a treatment plan for them.
Dental professionals perform a wide variety of dental treatments such as treating tooth decay, removing buildup from teeth, repairing damaged teeth, placing dental implants, and checking the growth of teeth and jawbones. Dentists also help improve a patients’ appearance through teeth whitening treatments.
Perform Surgical Procedures
To become a dentist, you need either a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Medical Dentistry (DMD) degree. These doctoral degrees qualify you for procedures such as gingivitis treatments, implants, tissue grafts, and teeth extractions. After obtaining your degree, you’ll have to pursue further education to perform more complex surgical procedures.
Providing preventive care is one of the most important aspects of dentistry. Dental professionals educate patients on how to take care of their teeth to prevent oral decay and diseases. Some common ways they do this is by showing patients the correct way to brush their teeth and advising them to floss daily.
If they own their own private practice, dentists have to take on different administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments, collecting and organizing their patients’ charts, and answering patients’ questions. To focus on patient care, most dental professionals hire someone, such as a receptionist or an office manager to take care of administrative tasks.
Apart from their daily appointments, dentists study dental research findings that are focused on improving oral health. Most dental research efforts may focus on developing new treatment methods, products, procedures, or equipment. Dental research can also become an alternative career choice for dental professionals who prefer researching over treating patients.
How Many Hours Do Dentists Work?
Dentists in private practices work approximately 36 hours per week. About 33 of those hours are spent treating patients, while the remaining hours are spent doing administrative tasks, training, and studying. Dentists work an average of seven hours per day. This doesn’t take into account emergencies that may lengthen the workday, nor those it includes the weekend hours that some dental professionals work.
Do Dentists Work on Weekends?
Yes, some dentists work on weekends, particularly on Saturdays, but this is not the norm. Usually, dental professionals have a lot of flexibility when establishing the days and hours they want to work every week. Dentists that decide to work on Saturdays often do so to satisfy the needs of patients who can’t go to the dentist on weekdays or have emergencies.
How to Achieve Work-Life Balance as a Dentist
- Accept that there isn’t a perfect work-life balance: Some days, your professional life will take precedence over your personal life, while on other days you will need to prioritize your personal life. The good news is that a good work-life balance is achieved over time, and can look different on different days.
- Manage your time: Try not to overschedule your days. Learn how much time it takes for you to complete your everyday tasks and make sure you give yourself enough time to get those things done, so you’re not working overtime.
- Set boundaries: Evaluate your priorities at work and at home and set your schedule around them. Learn to say no when it’s necessary and stop accepting extra tasks out of guilt or obligation. This will help ensure you have enough time for your priorities.
- Take time off work: Disconnecting from work and making time for other important aspects of your personal life can help reduce your stress levels. Also, if you can, try to spend some time outside. According to a study published by Scientific Reports, spending time in nature can have positive effects on your health and wellbeing.
- Prioritize your health: A healthy lifestyle is important for dealing with high-stress levels. Try to eat well, include at least 30 minutes of physical activity into your daily routine, and get enough sleep every night. You should also make changes in your work schedule to ensure you are able to care for your physical and mental health.
Dentistry Companies With the Best Work-Life Balance
In order to achieve a good dentist-work-life balance, it is important to seek out job opportunities that let you grow professionally without having to compromise on important aspects of your personal life. More and more dentistry companies are trying to ensure their employees can maintain a healthy work-life balance as dentists. Some of these companies are listed below.
US Department of Veteran Affairs
- Headquarters: Washington, DC
- Locations: Every US state, Puerto Rico
The US Department of Veteran Affairs is the country’s largest integrated health care system for veterans and their families. It offers many career opportunities to a wide range of dental professionals, offering them competitive salaries, comprehensive benefits, and a healthy work-life balance.
DentServ Dental Services
- Headquarters: Pelham Manor, NY
- Locations: Pelham Manor, NY
DentServ Dental Services has been providing quality, comprehensive on-site dental services since 1981. It offers its employees rewarding assignments, competitive compensation, and flexible schedules. These company qualities are great for dentists who are trying to maintain a good work-life balance and achieve high levels of career satisfaction.
- Headquarters: Aliso Viejo, CA
- Locations: Arizona, California, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington
Onsite Dental provides onsite, state-of-the-art dental care to many companies, universities, and hospitals across the nation. The company’s management is preoccupied with the satisfaction of its employees, which is why it offers a lot of benefits, flexibility, and support to the staff in its dental office.
- Headquarters: Inglewood, CA
- Locations: Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona, Hawaii, Oakland, Kansas
Gentle Dental is owned by InterDent, a company that provides business and administrative support to dental practices. Its qualities allow dentists to focus on the delivery of high-quality clinical experiences and patient satisfaction. This is a great opportunity for dental professionals who want to focus on patient care without compromising their work-life balance.
Great Expressions Dental Centers
- Headquarters: Southfield, MI
- Locations: Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Texas
Great Expressions Dental Centers is a company that provides dental care, orthodontics, surgery, and cosmetic dentistry all over the country. It offers an annual salary of more than $210,000 for dentists and provides a lot of flexibility, which is great for maintaining a good work-life balance.
Is Work-Life Balance Possible for Dentists?
Yes, work-life balance is possible for dentists as long as you remember to set limits at work and look after yourself. Most dental professionals work full-time schedules and some even work on weekends. However, one of the best perks of this career choice is its flexibility. Being able to manage your own schedule is crucial for achieving a good work-life balance as a dentist.
The workload of every dentist is different. While some dental professionals prefer to see as many patients as possible within a workday, others prefer that appointments are spaced out. Learning to manage your time wisely is a great way of improving your work-life balance, regardless of the number of patients you attend to or the hours you work on a daily basis.
Dentist Work-Life Balance FAQ
Yes, dentists can work from home. You can open your own dental practice at home, or you can work in teledentistry and offer virtual consultations. If you decide to work from home, it is important to separate your work from your personal life. It can help you decompress and will ensure you have a better dentist-work-life balance in the long run.
Most dentists work between four and five days per week, working an average of seven to 10 hours per day. Although some dentists work on Saturdays, the vast majority of dental professionals don’t work on weekends and enjoy days off on major holidays.
The average median hourly salary of a dentist is $78.85 per hour. This means that the average gross income of a dentist amounts to $164,010 a year. Dentistry is a very lucrative career choice in the health field because people constantly need dental services. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 63 percent of adults visit the dentist regularly.
There are many pros and cons to being a dentist. Some pros of a career in dentistry are that it is a lucrative profession with high career satisfaction scores, offering a lot of autonomy. The cons of this career choice are the high costs of dental school, any subsequent education you’ll need, and dealing with poor dental insurance.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot