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Boost Your Motivation at Work: 5 Ways to Avoid Dental Hygiene Burnoutt

Jun 09, 2017

Author: Amber Metro-Sanchez

Dental hygiene is a very mentally and physically demanding career. You have to keep up with your patient schedule and put on a happy face at all times. When your body starts to ache, you are expected to push through the rest of your workday. And then when your patients are lacking enthusiasm about their care, it is your job to get them motivated. But what do you do when your motivation at work starts to falter?

Here are five tips to help you regain your passion for your profession.

1. Take a Break

Sometimes you just need to mentally hit the reset button. One of the best ways to do that is to get away from your normal routine for a while by taking a vacation. You don't need to travel to a faraway exotic location. Sometimes staying at home and taking time out for yourself goes a long way. A great way to do this is to have a "spa day" where you pamper yourself and forget about all of your household and professional responsibilities for a few hours. When you return to work, you will feel refreshed and ready to provide your patients with top-quality care.

2. Learn Something New

Year after year, you get stuck taking CE courses covering the same topics and that can get boring. Instead, try learning about something different that interests you. Chances are that if you are enthusiastic about a topic, you will look forward to learning about it and then getting the chance to apply your new skills in the dental office. Colgate Oral Health Network offers many free online courses on a wide variety of engaging topics that fit easily into any schedule. Attending dental conferences is another way to renew your enthusiasm by taking classes, learning about the latest dental products, and connecting with your peers.

3. Don't Neglect Your Body

It is hard to be excited about your profession if pain is a recurring issue. Many times dental hygienists ignore their own discomfort because they are so busy attending to their patients' care. You hope that the pain will go away on its own during the course of your workday, but oftentimes that is not enough. In-office stretches can easily fit into your work schedule to help provide you with quick relief.

You may also feel burned out when patients fail to comply with your recommendations or express negativity towards dentistry in general. There are a variety of stress management techniques available, such as yoga or tai chi that may help your mental health. Bottom line, you must look out for yourself in order to help others.

4. Vent Your Frustrations

After a difficult day at work, it is important to decompress. Sometimes people bottle up their frustration, so that they are not labeled as a complainer. This behavior only allows negativity to eat at your motivation. If you talk to others about how your day went, their understanding may go a long way towards relieving your stress.

According to a study conducted by RDH and reported by Dentistry IQ, 84 percent of polled dental hygienists say that they made the right career choice. If you have a mentor, she or he may be able to provide you with suggestions to make that situation easier to handle in the future and remind you why you decided to join the dental hygiene field.

5. Focus on the Positive

It is human nature to dwell upon the negative things about your workday. Instead, focus on your successes. Perhaps you had a timid young patient who you made feel at ease. Or maybe you helped a coworker with a bottleneck in the schedule. If it helps, write a list of your positive experiences. Let the negative ones go at the end of your workday and your motivation can flourish.


  • Give yourself a break from your normal routine to return feeling renewed.
  • Don't ignore your mental and physical stresses, so they don't worsen over time.
  • Take care of yourself to enjoy a healthy and long dental hygiene career.

Why It's Valuable

When you are motivated, you feel like you can conquer the dental hygiene world. Keep that motivation strong by taking care of your needs so that your patients can truly benefit from your top-notch clinical skills.

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