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Slow Dentistry- a concept to empower dental patients and also reduce work stress among dentists

By Dental Tribune International
October 18, 2019

LUCERNE, Switzerland: A group of international clinicians have developed this concept of Slow Dentistry to overcome the work pressure or stress seen among dental professionals to perform and achieve instant results. The concept of slow dentistry is built upon four universal key principles designed to empower the patients to be confident about their safety, well-being and comfort, and also help them understand the dental treatments better.

The nature of work and working conditions in dental surgery have turned dentistry into a stressful profession. With the dramatic changes that have taken place in the profession in recent years, and the changes that are expected to happen in the coming years, it has become critical that we establish the impact this would have on on the well-being of dental professionals.

A study was conducted to determine the levels of stress and burnout among dental professionals in the UK and how this relates to their well-being. The study also made an attempt to identify the sources of work-related stress that the dentists self-reported in their practice.

An online survey that covered the work stress, burnout and well-being among dentists - was administered to the members of the British Dental Association (BDA), and also the non-members.

A total of 2503 respondents gave valid responses, which showed that dental professionals working in the UK exhibit high levels of stress and burnout and low well-being. General dental practitioners (GDPs) seem to be the most affected group. Issues relating to regulation and fear of litigation appear to be the most stressful aspects of being a dentist.

The findings from this online survey build upon the existing research findings and show that dentistry is, indeed, a stressful profession. The changing landscape of dentistry, over the years, seem to have shifted the sources of this stress. The researchers felt that the interventions should address these stressors and make changes in the working conditions of dentists.

The paper recommended that instead of solely focusing on individual solutions (e.g. stress management), future interventions should also seek global solutions (e.g. modifying the working environment). The concept of Slow Dentistry aims to bring in a shift towards a slower pace of care, which would not only ensure patient safety but also minimise the triggers that create stress among the practitioners.

“The four cornerstones are easily identifiable and are a means to allow patients to influence their safety and well-being at the dentist. We encourage everyone to insist on having the time to explain and understand, the time to ensure that anaesthetic is effective and to take note of all aspects of hygiene,” said Dr Miguel Stanley, a co-founder of Slow Dentistry. “While we may assume this is all happening—and, in many cases, it is—the cornerstones of Slow Dentistry encourage patients to take some control over their appointments,” he commented.

“Having created a large client base through my passion and love for dentistry, I found myself overwhelmed and unable to cope with the growing patient list. It soon became evident to me that time was what I needed, and what is essential to provide the best care for my patients,” said Dr Rhona Eskander, one of the global ambassadors for Slow Dentistry.

The study A survey of stress, burnout and well-being in UK dentists was published in the British Dental Journal on 11th January 2019.

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