The secret dentist – have you planned your 100-year dental life?

The Secret DentistAre you prepared to work into your 70s? The Secret Dentist explores the 100-year lifespan and what this means for a dental career.

Congratulations! Just the fact that you are reading this will put you ahead of the game.

The fact that you are reading it online means, percentage wise, you are at the younger end of the age spectrum. This also means that your life expectancy will be 100 years, give or take a few.

That is not fiction, that is fact.

The key to working into our 80s

Basically in every decade since 1840, life expectancy has increased by two to three years. So a child born in 2007 has a 50% probability of living to 104. Then a child born a decade earlier (1997) has a 50% chance of reaching 101 or 102; a decade earlier (1987) the range is 98 to 100.

What you must start to do is get your head around what this will mean.

No longer will you do what your parents or grandparents did. The traditional three-stage life – education, work then retirement, will morph into a multi-staged life.

There will be a fundamental redesign of life; whilst the process is gradual and has already been ongoing for many years, it will culminate in a social and economic revolution.

People will work into their 70s and 80s. For some that seems like a millstone around their neck. But not if it is properly embraced, you enjoy what you do and have fully adopted a multi-stage life. That might involve a career change or significant change in direction.

Your FD trainer, for example, may consider retiring in his/her late 50s or early 60s. This is generally because they are ‘knackered’ and tired.

If you are going to work extra time you need to be fresh and enjoy work/life. Getting the balance right is key.

The 100-year life

Food for thought and things to consider:

  1. Don’t be sucked into the social media hype about how successful/rich/brilliant some dentists are early in their careers. Remember the hare and the tortoise
  2. Don’t necessarily think you have to get extra qualifications ASAP just because everybody seems to be doing it. Why not get the basics right first, learn about treating patients not mouths and enjoy your leisure/family/personal time?
  3. Explore different areas of dentistry before settling on one. You possibly don’t even need to specialise in one area. Being a generalist is okay!
  4. Enjoy your life outside dentistry and consider interacting more with non-dental friends – broaden your horizons
  5. Dentistry will give you a comfortable life but it won’t make you wealthy. If you want to be rich and famous try Love Island or trading in the city.

If you want a very detailed explanation of ‘The 100-year life’, search for the book by the same title written by Lynda Gratton and Andrew J Scott.

Catch previous Secret Dentist columns:

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