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Dentists’ Physical Wellbeing: ADA Survey Findings


I had the pleasure to host Tim Caruso, physical therapist; Tamara James, Director of Ergonomics at Duke University; and Dr. Bob Werner, former Chief of the Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at the Ann Arbor VA Medical Center. They joined me to speak about a data analysis that ensued from the ADA Survey on Dentists’ Wellbeing. 

The issue of ergonomics in dentistry is prevalent and many times mishandled. Dentists perform routine procedures that could put a strain on their physical and emotional well being. The ADA Health Policy Institute, in conjunction with the ADA Council on Dental Wellness Advisory Committee (DWAC), conducted the 2015 Dentist Well-being Survey to study the various stresses which may affect dentists today.

we hope you find the information provided in the interview helpful. We always welcome your thoughts, feedback, suggestions and questions at oasisdiscussions@cda-adc.ca

Until next time!

Chiraz Guessaier, CDA Oasis Manager 


Access the full 2015 Dentist Well-being Survey Report (PDF)

  • More than 85 percent of active dentists were married in 2015 and 90 percent reported they were emotionally satisfied with their relationship.
  • Most dentists (94%) engaged in some form of exercise in an average week. Male dentists age 40 years or older (96%) were most likely to report that they engaged in exercise during
    the week.
  • Dentists rarely reported substance abuse. Although analgesics were used on a regular basis by 17 percent of dentists, opiates were used by fewer than two percent. These percentages were similar compared to reported regular use by dentists in the 2003 Dentist Well-Being Survey. Risk of drug addiction, assessed by CAGE substance abuse screening tool, was very low and indicated less than one percent at risk.
  • Although only one-in-ten dentists were considered at high risk for alcoholism, nearly one in-five (18%) of all practicing dentists felt that they should cut down on drinking. Feeling a lack of control at work and being unsatisfied with their dental practice were associated with higher risk for alcoholism.
  • Over one-in-five dentists (22%) were determined to have a moderate level of depression and four percent had a high level of depression. Half of the dentists who scored a high level reported that they have not been diagnosed or have not considered themselves to have depression.
  • The leading medical condition male dentists self-reported as diagnosed or that may apply to them was elevated cholesterol (28%), followed by heart disease (11%). Among female dentists, headache was the most common condition, followed by depression (13%). Overall time lost from work or recreation due to poor physical or mental health was small, less than 10 percent of dentists reported one or more days kept away from activities in the month prior to the survey.
  • Overall, dentists reported conditions in themselves in similar proportion to those reported by dentists in the 2003 Dentist’s Well-Being Survey. However, in 2015, a larger percentage reported diabetes (5% vs. 3%, respectively), and a smaller percentage of women reported premenstrual syndrome or premenstrual dysphoric disorder (9% vs. 15%, respectively).
  • Nearly one-in-five dentists (19%) reported that they have experienced some type of harassment in a dental setting. Female dentists were twice as likely as male dentists to report harassment. Dentists who experienced harassment were less likely to want to be a dentist again if they re-lived their life, were more likely to experience severe stress at work and feel a lack of control in their work environment.
  • About one-in-three dentists (32%) reported signs of hearing problems. Male dentists age 40 and older were more likely to report hearing problems (41%) compared to other gender and age groups. Few dentists (4%) reported using hearing protection.
  • Three out of ten dentists (31%) reported moderate or severe pain or discomfort in the neck and a similar percentage (29%) reported pain or discomfort in the lower back. These two areas were most often associated with pain or discomfort and were associated with interference from work.

Full Interview (26.45″)


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