A good support network is key to managing stress in dental hygiene

A good support network is key to managing stress in our profession

Work life, home life, and personal life—how does this puzzle fit together? Finding a balance and expecting your partner at home to understand the emotional and physical challenges of dentistry can be challenging. Not every spouse or partner is able to comprehend what we do and the relationships we make with patients on a daily basis.

Let’s face it—being in the dental world, we don’t top many people’s “favorite people to see” list. How many people over the age of eight look forward to dental visits and periodontal therapy? Even so, getting to know patients and families is one of the most rewarding aspects of our careers. Work is what you make of it. It is not the physical work, but the emotional and personal connections that make my career an integrated part of my daily life. Over my years in a family-oriented practice, I have watched children grow and have seen grandchildren come into the world. I have laughed and cried along with patients. For many, we are as much a listening ear as we are clinicians, so getting emotionally invested in patients is almost inevitable.

The stress we feel as hygienists may carry over into the home when we switch to our roles as moms, dads, spouses, and partners, and it can be overwhelming at times. I admit I don’t always transition from wearing one hat to another smoothly. Hygienists are often perfectionists. Feeling like we need to do it all is frustrating, and overcoming that feeling can be hard. But how do we get our significant others to see and understand the stressors of the dental profession?

The stress of running behind schedule, having patients tell us how much they dread a dental visit, and dealing with an office full of difficult coworkers and an overpowering doctor is enough to cause anybody’s head to spin. Office conflict and lack of teamwork can make any day miserable when the office is not running smoothly. That said, hygiene is a rewarding, satisfying career spent caring for others and seeing the changes that we make in patients’ lives, while creating new relationships and friendships with coworkers and patients alike.