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challengeDentists must be equally as business-minded as they are clinically proficient and willing to embrace any challenge. Running a successful practice with a careful attention to detail seems to be one of the primary sources of anxiety for dentists.

by Dr. Lee Ann Brady

Opening a dental practice is just as difficult as starting any other business … there’s risk involved and always a high degree of uncertainty.

I’ve found that there are a few particular stressors that seem to haunt other dentists as they deal with fluctuations and unwanted change in their practices.

Dentists are generally (more than a little) Type A about success. We invested in years of additional education and probably set high standards for what life would be like post-dental school.

Reality isn’t so simple though. Below is one of the top three stressors that I have noticed in my own dental practice. I find that simply acknowledging the stress can help ease the pressure.

Failure, Clinical Expectations, and Wanting the Challenge

The outcome and longevity of your dentistry can be the primary stressor in your practice. What does it mean to be “the best” when you’re competing against yourself and dealing with the subjectivity that individual patient’s bring to their care?

You’ll try your best to create a superior result and most of the time you’ll achieve it. It’s the one time the anterior composite doesn’t color blend perfectly that you spend the entire night afterward awake and dwelling on the problem.

It’s easy to be rattled by failures. Maybe you’re seeing recurrent decay 2-5 years after a restoration was placed or an imperfect margin. It could be that the patient had unmet expectations and you’re left scrambling to repair a damaged relationship.

I recently heard someone use the phrase, “Want the challenge.” It’s simple in concept but difficult in practice to realize that we can open ourselves up to struggle and uncertainty.

As dentists, we need to be willing to try new things and accept failures so that we can constantly improve. You might need to switch materials, even in light of the possibility that you will be risking an increased failure rate.

It will be a challenge to move purposefully out of your comfort zone. One thing I have learned in almost 30 years of dental practice is that we are all capable of this. Embrace the discomfort of different materials so that you can achieve more predictability and dependability.

This might even reduce your stress in the long run.