Professor Tim Newton – Stress management and mental health of the dental team


  Posted by: Dental Design      14th February 2023

Professor Tim Newton joined us at Dentistry Show London to present the session, “Stress management and mental health of the dental team”.

He began his session by identifying the potential sources of stress felt by dental professionals. These can be divided into groups: business led pressures include the great retirement and competitors; clinical situation led pressures cover feeling out of control and being out of your comfort zone; and patient led pressures may be anxious patients and those with additional needs. Professor Newton added that many find the busy, yet isolated work environment stressful, especially given the negative perspective of dentists from society. The ever-increasing online influence is having more impact on job satisfaction too, with a rise in patients shopping around for services or seeking alternatives to professional dentistry.

These work-related stresses can lead to increased anxiety, depression, poor psychological wellbeing and burnout in professionals. According to Professor Newton, 60-80% of dentists are estimated to be struggling with burnout, which is particularly troubling as it may lead to depersonalisation, and possibly even compromised patient care. Burnout is thought to be worse in dentists working in the NHS and better for both those undergoing further education (like postgraduate studies) and those working in big teams.

Strategies to rectify these issues at a personal and practice level are important. These individual and team approaches may encompass physical, behavioural and cognitive changes. Professor Newton recommended regular exercise and an improved diet including reducing caffeine to help relieve general tension. He also suggested improving the physical work environment, acknowledging that there is often a strain on dental professionals’ eyes and ears too (due to high frequency noise from drills).

Improving time management could also help. It is recommended to identify priorities based on long term personal goals and allocate time accordingly. Consider what is important to you – for many people, family and friends come first, which will help to determine how best to spend your free time. Anything which could intrude on this time should be taken into consideration, however, only those things considered both urgent and important should take priority. For example, routine tasks which are important, but not urgent need not take up your free time unnecessarily and can wait until later.

At a practice level, Professor Newton encouraged dental teams to evaluate how they’re feeling regularly. Consider coping strategies and implement the 5 Ds: delegate, divide, divert, discuss and develop to ensure everyone is able to manage their workload. It’s essential for team members to differentiate between things they ‘should’ do and things they ‘must’ do. Often, people expect too much of themselves, so it’s important that dental professionals are not giving themselves unnecessary rules to follow. Professor Newton recommended creating goals for the practice for review after six months. After this period, assess progress, consider the next steps for further improvements, and involve the team in decision making and ask for feedback.

A delegate attending this session commented:

“Professor Tim Newton was well spoken, and kept his session engaging and light. I am very interested in this topic, and I got what I wanted from it. He covered the topic well, and has definitely given me food for thought to help re-frame the way I think. Dentistry Show London has educational resources on a good range of subjects, which I am looking into to help me diversify and help to prevent burnout.“

Dentistry Show London 2023 will be held on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th October. Visit for the latest details



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