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Digital Toolkit

Mental health and well-being in the dental workplace

Due to work and life experiences dental teams are exposed constantly to sensations such as anxiety, constant worry, continuous stress, burnout, and an increase in addictive behaviours. It is important to generate awareness and activities in our work environment to promote well-being.



All stakeholders involved in the dental profession have an important responsibility to promote mental health and well-being in the workplace. Dental teams can be exposed to stressors that lead to them feeling strained. This in turn can result in serious mental health issues such as burnout and an increase in addictive behaviours, and can also affect the quality of care provided. This toolkit, therefore, aims to improve mental health and well-being by providing guidance on actions that can be taken to improve the well-being of dental team members at three levels of intervention: individual (oral health professional) , organizational and system (National) levels.

How to use this toolkit

Who can use this toolkit?

As previously stated, this toolkit can be used at three levels of intervention and each level includes assessment tools to understand mental health and well-being needs, guidance on how to improve well-being, and tips to spread the word about activities to raise awareness about or improve mental health and well-being.

Individual (oral health professional) level

This section is to be used within a team and/or individually. The information and tools focus on mindfulness, healthy eating, communication skills, and other topics important for individuals looking to improve their own mental health and well-being. This includes:

  • Guidance to understand the sources of stress and how the workplace affects you and the people around you.
  • Different techniques to address the effects of stress on mental health. You can find and go through the sections that best suit your needs , from coping with physiological manifestations of stress to behaviour changing, thoughts changing, etc.
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Individual level

Organizational level

Organizational level

This section is directed towards people who want to improve mental health and well-being at their dental workplace, such as practice leaders, managers or mental health champions within the dental team. Workplaces may include dental practices, dental clinics in hospitals, universities and community settings, dental technician laboratories.
To address issues and systems within the workplace, it is important to assess the risk for mental health related issues and willingness to discuss in an open way about:

  • Demands – including workload, work environment and work patterns. Preventing chaotic workplaces.
  • Control – how much control do individual team members have
  • Relationships – effective team working, preventing and tackling bullying and microaggressions.
  • Role – are there well-defined roles and responsibilities within the team
  • Change – how is organisational change communicated and managed.
  • Support – are there effective support mechanisms in place

The goal is early intervention and, if required, safe signposting for team members showing signs of stress, burnout and poor mental health. This can be linked with pathways already established in the dental teams’ specific country.

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System (National) level

This section is to be used by Dental Associations on the national and international levels, along with at universities, local and national governments.
The aim is to support and promote a systems-level approach to improving well-being within a country or region’s dental care system. The well-being of oral health professionals must be considered as a central point for delivering quality healthcare to the population. The recommendations included are:

  • To assess the value governmental bodies and policymakers attribute to oral healthcare in the way they commission dental services for the population
  • To manage integrity within the system fairly and with right-touch regulation
  • Policymakers and other national stakeholders to consider ways dental teams can be further valued, e.g., inclusion in government superannuation schemes
  • To make the dental team well-being a key component in the design and commissioning of dental services for the population.
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National level

Key messages

Group 117
Group 116
Group 115
Group 114

Key statistics: Burnout

Key statistics: Burnout
burnout infographics mobile

Focus groups key messages

Nine National Dental Associations (NDAs)* participated in different focus groups to help FDI understand their views regarding mental health in the dental workplace and to inform the present toolkit.

Here are some of their views:

Mental health and well-being in the dental workplace is an important topic, which needs to be promoted more. Measuring the issue should be addressed at national levels.
There is a concern about the possible link between practitioners’ poor mental health and patient safety.
Dentistry is considered a stressful profession across different countries and different healthcare delivery systems, mainly due to the challenge of managing patients and their expectations, fear of complaints, increased scrutiny and need for compliance, the pressures of running a business and/or working under the pressures of a target driven system.
A toolkit to help oral health professionals, dental teams and NDAs to assess and manage mental well-being is urgently needed and will be well-received.
Mental health issues and stress in dentistry seems to be increasing over the recent years. Attention from governments and stakeholders is needed.
There is a need to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and normalize conversations about these issues. However, culture within different societies might have an influence on how the topic is perceived.

Note: Key messages from the focus groups can be reused,
tailored nationally, and spread.

*Australian Dental Association / Federación Odontológica Colombiana / Association Dentaire Française /Hong
Kong Dental Association / Indian Dental Association / Japan Dental Association – Association /Marocaine de
Prévention Bucco-dentaire / New Zealand Dental Association / Turkish Dental Association

Additional resources

Access additional resources such as useful links and information to help improve your well-being.

Additional resources