Dentists Work 35 Hours a Week

Post your comments about the dental work week to our blog. Read the dentists’ weekly hours press release.

The average dentist in this survey reports working 35 hours a week over an average of five days.

It’s important to note that dentists spend their work time on two very different tasks: treating dental patients and attending to dental practice management.

“When I cut back to 4 days per week 15 years ago, my income went up not down!” exclaimed one dentist. “I’m working less now due to the recession,” sighed another.

At the bottom of this page, you’ll find a map showing state-by-state results.

Higher dentist profits, fewer hours

  • "When I cut back to 4 days per week 15 years ago, my income went up, not down!” (California dentist)
  • "Less is more.” (Washington dentist)
  • “Don't work longer…work smarter.” (Connecticut periodontist)
  • “When I can work 3 days per week and make the same or more as in 4 days, that is a no-brainer! After 25 years doing what I love, if I have a bit more time to also do other things, I think everyone wins.” (Florida dentist)
  • “Any more than 4 days a week and I'd be nuts. I think three is perfect. It's not the business; it's the stress of treating patients, their anxiety, my perfectionism, and the imperfect science that is dentistry.” (Texas dentist)

Slow economy means less work

  • “4 days — not been busy with low (40%) treatment acceptance with new patients. Also, use to have an average of 11 new patients per month, now down to 3. Being a non par (with insurance) dentist, I am now feeling the crunch of patients leaving to go to par dentist. This has never been a problem in 21 years of practice.” (Pennsylvania dentist)
  • “I'm working 3 days a week due to the recession.” (Canada dentist)
  • “Hours are not as productive as before the financial crisis. I am just now seeing a bit of an increase in patient acceptance and involvement in their care. Many who have lost their jobs and insurance want a ton of work done before the insurance goes away and want me to finance what the insurance doesn't pay. Does not seem like a win/win to me.” (Oregon dentist)

Leaving room for dental continuing education

  • “I cut to 180 work days a year five years ago , income went up and have not actually managed to work 180 yet. I do not count continuing ed as work days. The more time I took off the more continuing dental education I took. Working smarter instead of longer.” (Illinois dentist)
  • “More days if you count business admin and weekend dental CE travel.” (Florida
    pediatric dentist)
  • “36 hours in clinical treatment, 4 hours teaching at dental school and about 20 to 30 hours administrative.” (Washington pediatric dentist)

The extra hours not spent treating patients

  • “Being a practice owner, my wife and I usually spend an extra 45 minutes to one hour per day before and after work and an hour on the weekend to keep up with the mail.” (California dentist)
  • “In addition to patient contact, there is also administrative work, insurance correspondence, limited laboratory work, and office maintenance.” (Connecticut dentist)
  • “I work about 48 hours over 6 days. About half of this is clinical, half administrative.” (Georgia orthodontist)
  • “32 hours seeing patients, but 8 more doing management type work.” (Kentucky dentist)

Industry standard: 4 days with patients, 1 day of admin

  • “Dentistry is hard work – intense. Four days is plenty. The fifth day is still often a work day, just not seeing patients.” (California dentist)
  • “We reserve Fridays for team meetings, dental continuing education, and for patients that might require an extremely lengthy procedure when we can focus on just that one patient.” (Delaware dentist)
  • “We work 30 clinical/patient hours and 10 additional hours for administration, management, maintenance, training. We have added a few 1/2 day Fridays for
    patient care to be more available during this recession.” (Maine dentist)
  • “4 days clinical, and one day for administrative and professional 'errands.'” (Rhode Island dentist)

Working Saturdays?

  • “I work three 10 hour days Mon-Wed and 8 hours every other Saturday. Haven't worked Saturdays for 20 years, but felt we had to for patients who were afraid to take off from work to go to the dentist.” (New York dentist)
  • “I really should be working on Saturdays and late one night during the week and keep my hours at 40 per week.” (California dentist)
  • “Occasionally on a Saturday for important cases.” (General dentist)

Some want to cut back

  • “I work 5 days, but I'd like to work 3 days/week.” (New York dentist)
  • “I work too much!” (Connecticut dentist)
  • “I really want to just work part-time, but I haven't figured out how yet.” (California dentist)
  • “I work far too long hours!” (Australia dentist)
  • “I am trying to get an associate to work the other days so that I only have to work 4 days a week.” (California dentist)
  • "I have to work 7 days due to financial repercussions after an inherited hygienist absconded with 15% of the patient base which I purchased.” (General dentist)

Breaking up the week

  • “Every day, the hours are different – which keeps every week different, interesting, and helps us be more available for various work schedules. Wednesday's we reserve for just one or two cases, which allows us to handle rarer, more complicated cases – large crown & bridge, implant surgeries, impacted wisdom teeth, multiple veneer placement, etc., without the interruptions of ortho, emergency, & hygiene checks. It really improves
    our concentration, while reducing our stress.” (Arkansas dentist)
  • “I am interested what the current thought is on whether evening or early morning hours are critical to maintaining a steady productive schedule.” (Missouri dentist)

Note: Survey sample included 197 respondents.

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