How Stressful is Being a Dentist?

things to consider before starting down the path of becoming a dentist

November 15, 2023 Written By: Joyce Kahng, DDS

Being a dentist is challenging. If you are simply looking for an easy job you can coast through, this definitely isn’t it! Dentists require a high level of training and face many challenges in their day-to-day work life.

But is being a dentist stressful? And, if so, how is being a dentist stressful? Below is more information about whether or not being a dentist is stressful, and some things you’ll want to consider before starting down the path of becoming a dentist.

How Stressful Is Being a Dentist?

Being a dentist is pretty stressful. With that said, not everyone handles stress the same way. Just about any job can be stressful if you are particularly prone to stress. With that said dentistry provides a higher level of stress than many other professions.

This isn’t to say being a dentist isn’t worth it—it is. Dentistry is a rewarding field with plenty of opportunities and challenges to overcome. It just also requires some stress management and tolerance skills to ensure your patients get the best care possible.

What Makes Being a Dentist Stressful?

Below are some of the reasons why dentistry is such a stressful occupation:

Dental School

Dental school is no joke. It requires some serious study. Dentists are Doctors and, as with any other doctorate, it takes tons of study, dedication, and hard work. It’s also a hands-on profession. You’ll need to become comfortable with working with patients and performing complex procedures.

Precision with Procedures


Speaking of which, as a dentist precision is key. You can’t risk injuring your patient or improperly performing the service you are providing. Dentistry is a technical field, and even the slightest mistake can lead to serious consequences. You need to be detail-oriented, and you need to be able to perform under pressure.

Handling Patient Emotions

It’s no secret that many patients are either afraid of going to the dentist or simply don’t enjoy it. Along with that, there are some patients that are simply difficult to deal with in any scenario. Part of dentistry is customer service. As with any other client-, patient-, or customer-facing career, you’ll have some very pleasant patients and some obnoxious ones. In order to maintain the reputation of your office and avoid negative reviews, you will need to be tactful when handling patients that are overly emotional.

If you decide to enter the field of pediatric dentistry, there is a whole other set of emotions you need to deal with. Adults may not like visiting the dentist, but they understand why it’s important and thus deal with it. Children often don’t fully understand what’s going on and the noises, pain, and general fear can get to them. You need to have a special disposition and really love kids to become a pediatric dentist. This isn’t a field of dentistry you should enter lightly.

With all of that said, many patients are civil, understanding, and pleasant.

Time Management

Being a dentist can be pretty hectic! There are often lots of patients booking appointments, so you’ll need to perform procedures back to back. This means being both proficient and quick. Productivity is key in dentistry, and you need to be able to balance being polite and helpful with being quick and efficient. This can be difficult for some people. If you find you are terrible with time management and you can’t handle a hectic schedule, dentistry may not be the best field for you.

Running a Business

Being a dentist is one thing—being a dentist and a business owner is another. Running any business is extremely difficult. You need to handle staff, patients, accounting, payroll, taxes, government regulations…there is a lot that goes into it. Even if you hire an office manager, you need to ensure they are staying on top of their tasks, so your office doesn’t flounder.

On top of all of this, you need to market your practice. This is a whole thing in and of itself. There are two approaches to marketing your practice—you can either hire a company to do it for you or take on the task yourself. If you decide to market your practice yourself, you need to learn about digital and physical marketing, analytics, running ads, encouraging positive online reviews, and more. Really, it may be easier to simply hire a company to help you and pay the costs involved rather than add more to your already hectic schedule.

Work-Life Balance

Being a dentist means long hours. There is a lot of work to do, and many patients to help. If you also have your own practice, this means even more time in the office. Finding the right work-life balance is a common problem for dentists. You want to make sure you have time to relax, enjoy time with your family, and stay on top of your obligations while also servicing enough patients. With the right work-life balance, being a dentist can be extremely rewarding and fulfilling. Figuring out that balance, though, can take some time.

Should I Become a Dentist?

Now that you know more about how stressful it can be for a dentist, you are probably wondering whether or not it’s a good idea to become a dentist. Really, it’s up to you. You have a better understanding of the challenges you’ll face in your day-to-day life as a dentist. If you feel these are challenges you can manage, you’ll want to think about whether it’s a field you would actually enjoy. You don’t want to spend all your time at work hating your career.

With all of this said, dentistry offers plenty of opportunities, challenges, financial rewards, and more. You get to help people to better their health and maintain their amazing smiles—which is extremely rewarding!

Consider the good and the challenging to determine if this is the right field for you. If so, start looking into dental school and begin your journey!

Smile Smarter,
Dr. Joyce

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