Managing stress in the dental environment
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Stress is defined as "an imbalance between a perceived demand (stressor) and a person's perceived ability to cope with, or to meet, that demand". It is well known that dentists are subject to a variety of stress-related physical and emotional problems. In dental practice it may include the difficulties in managing anxious children, or dealing with "neurotic", difficult or uncompliant adults. Stress may also take the form of personal insult if dentists are regarded as incompetent when compared with their peers, or are seen as insensitive, inconsiderate and inferior to doctors. Attempting to stay on schedule in a busy dental practice is a chronic source of stress. Not receiving commensurate payment for their services, anxiety about the future and long working hours may also act as stressors. Stress is not good for health! It is well known that stress and poor stress management increase susceptibility and vulnerability to ill health including cardiovascular disease, ulcers, colitis, hypertension, lower back pain, eye strain, marital disharmony, alcoholism, drug addiction, mental depression and even suicide. How does stress manifest in the practice? It may result in absenteeism, increased incident rate, inter-personal aggression, poor quality control, low productivity, high aggression, low productivity, high turnover, reduced morale, complaints and litigation.