Nearly a quarter of orthodontists (24%) are experiencing high or extremely high stress, according to a recent survey conducted by Levin Group. Working in a pressurized environment is exhausting for doctors and team members. It also gives parents and patients a negative impression of the practice, leading to fewer referrals and, ultimately, lower production.

The #1 cause for high stress is outdated systems. When systems are inefficient, it’s harder to get things done, which creates an incredible amount of stress on everyone in the office. Short of replacing every system, here are three “fixes” to reduce stress in the practice:

1. Fix the scheduling system

The schedule is the practice’s time management system. When not working properly, it affects nearly every other system in the practice, from customer service to marketing to starting new patients. By updating the schedule, you take a giant first step in relieving practice stress. When patients can be consistently seen on time, your front desk team isn’t dealing with upset parents nor are your assistants hurrying from patient to patient, trying to play catch-up.

2. Fix practice communications

When people don’t know what’s going on, rumors flourish, which generates confusion and stress. Every orthodontic practice should have a daily morning meeting. This should serve as a positive preview of the day’s activities, including new patients, emergencies, special circumstances, referral opportunities, etc. The doctor should also take time to highlight any exemplary employee performance. Many orthodontists are tight-lipped when it comes to complimenting team members. That lack of appreciation often discourages staff from going the extra mile.

In addition to the morning meeting, the practice should hold a monthly meeting to work on larger issues, such as customer service breakdowns, updating scripts, and documenting processes. Many practices fail to schedule this meeting or it gets pushed aside for other priorities. An orthodontic office is always a work in progress. Good communication keeps the practice moving forward.

3. Fix your attitude

That might sound harsh, but if you dread stepping into your practice because there’s so much stress, you’re only adding to that stress. On top of that, you’re not in the best frame of mind for finding solutions to relieve the pressure on your team. Moreover, your team is looking to you for inspiration. If you’re downbeat and disengaged, it’s hard for them to feel motivated for anything other than just getting through the day.

A positive attitude in the face of adverse circumstances isn’t easy to pull off, but it ain’t about what’s easy, it’s about what’s right. That’s true leadership.


Nobody should be working in a highly stressed practice. But it happens, especially in this era of increased competition. If you and your team are feeling stressed, use these three steps to get rid of the tension and enjoy what you do even more. OP

Better Systems, Less Stress: Learn more about the Levin Group’s management consulting program by clicking here.