How dentists can reduce stress, according to 1 exec

There are several actions a dentist can take that could increase stress during their work day, according to Barry Lyon, DDS. 

Dr. Lyon, a chief dental officer for the division of orthodontics and pediatric dentistry for Dental Care Alliance, recently spoke with Becker's about the practices that can lead to more problems in a dentist's career.

Editor's note: This Q&A is part of a weekly series featuring Dr. Lyon focused on topics in the dental industry and DSO field. This response was lightly edited for clarity and length.

Dr. Barry Lyon:

No one ever said practicing dentistry was easy. Yes, it is highly professionally rewarding and, yes, it can be financially rewarding as well. But dentists face no two days alike and clinical situations can arise when success or failure is determined by factors out of the dentist’s control. In today’s often contentious patient climate, it is important that dentists avoid the pitfalls that make their jobs more difficult.

At the top of this list is avoiding poor clinical recordkeeping. Without detailed records, a dentist will be left with little to defend against a malpractice claim or a dental board complaint. Scant records will place a dentist and a career in jeopardy. An irate patient will have the upper hand in a dispute if the dentist’s records are unable to support proper clinical care.

Dentists should avoid feeling like they must treat every patient they examine. If the level of required care is beyond the scope of the dentist’s training and experience, or if the patient has unreasonable expectations, the red flags these situations raise must be avoided. Getting married to a case going badly leads to sleepless nights and unnecessary stress. 

Finally, do not let stubbornness prevent you from making the decision to refund money to an unhappy patient. Failing to refund what amounts to "pocket change" can cost much, much more in the long run. As a former president of a state dental board, I saw too many patient complaints based on a dentist not refunding money to a patient. Once a complaint has been issued, it must be adjudicated and that involves stress, expense and anxiety on the part of the dentist.

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