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How to Avoid Burnout as a Dental Hygienist

Burnt out RDH

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Two words for you: Burn out.


What comes to mind when you read those words. Have you felt burnout? Do you think you’re right on the edge of it? Have you seen it or felt it in others? 


As dental hygienists, we know that burnout might be all too familiar. While some of us crave the urgency and overdrive that the job gives us (after all, it’s why we started in the first place), it can be hard to say “enough is enough, time to recharge.”

While burnout can feel unavoidable at times, there are some ways to decrease it, or at least avoid letting it take over our lives.


Ask for help 


While a large portion of schooling and training (assessments, exams, and all that stuff) might be done alone, a lot of the day-to-day of a dental hygienist involves relying on those around us for support.


It takes a pretty driven and totally capable human to be a dental hygienist, but while we can be all those things, it’s also okay to ask for help from those around us. When it feels like we just have a little too much on our plate and we could be on the brink of burnout (trust me, you’ll know when you get to this point) it’s totally okay- even encouraged- to lean on other dental hygienists, dentists, or anyone else in the office to take over a little of our load until we’re back on our feet.

Find a hobby 


For those of us who truly love what we do for a living, it can be hard to avoid the my work is my life mentality. To be obsessed with your job is a pretty great thing, but at the same time, you’re allowed to have a life outside of it. Devoting every second of our time, thoughts, and energy to our 9-5 might not be as healthy as we think and can be a real kickstart to burnout. 

When you have that go go go attitude typical of a dental hygienist, it might not be a bad idea to focus your energy elsewhere. Why not pick up a hobby to take our minds off the job in our free time? Whether you’re a runner, a baker, a musician, or pretty much anything else, letting your mind wander towards something with a little less urgency can be a great way to avoid burnout.

Let your breaks be breaks 


Speaking of breaks, you have to know the full meaning of them to take them. Going out to dinner with your colleagues and discussing patients, coworkers, or simply the nature of the job does not count as unwinding and relaxing; it’s just work in a dimly lit, evening location. 

Whether it’s just one night, a weekend, or a full week off, a break should be exactly that; a pause from any talk, research, or even mental energy related to work. Taking some time away from the job every now and then and fully focusing on relaxing is key to staying on top of your game when you are in the office


Burnout is tough, and most of us will experience it at some point or another. But, using our coworkers as resources and leaving the office in the office every now and then might be the key to being the best dental hygienists we can be and balancing our personal and professional selves.

Charlotte friends: Feeling burned out? Here are some fresh ideas to recharge: 


  1. Grab an iced coffee and take a walk at Freedom Park – or explore another Charlotte trail
  2. Find (and take!) a virtual Skillpop class
  3. Try a virtual workout class via Fit Revolution (you’ll recognize some of your favorite CLT area workout gurus and experts!)


Read more fun facts, expert advice, and dental industry news on the Biteline blog.
And don’t forget to share with your dental friends!

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