The power of ‘take 10’ breaks

Lucie Simic discusses how a weekly ten-minute break can improve productivity, boost morale and empower women – without compromising practice profits.

Let’s delve into a crucial aspect topic that demands our attention within dental practices: the wellbeing of our teams – with a particular focus on the women working in dentistry.

In a profession where the number of female dentists are ever increasing and our front of house, treatment co-coordinators and dental nursing teams are predominantly made up of women, it’s essential to address the challenges that may arise in female dominated environments.

Understanding our individual strengths, weaknesses and communication styles is a game-changer in shaping positive interactions with colleagues. Recognising the need to help our teams understand each other and communicate better is vital.

There are various psychometric testing methods available and, in my experience, this is the very best way to help everyone communicate effectively.

Taking a breather

However, I believe there is also something else we can do in dental practices to help support our teams, particularly women.

When I joined my first dental practice more than a decade ago, it became clear just how physically and mentally demanding some of the clinical sessions are, especially the long morning shifts. There is often no break or gap until lunch – when everyone would descend on the staff room in a hangry cloud – before resuming the afternoon clinic after a well-deserved break.

A few years later, working in a different practice, I was introduced to their regular Friday ritual: a break at 11am in which everyone stopped for coffee and croissants.

The results of this weekly breather were obvious – team dynamics improved, making the day smoother and everyone more supportive. Productivity on these days also increased and fewer staff took unplanned absences.

Short breaks are not a new initiative. Research has found significant benefits in taking short breaks throughout the working day. Studies also indicate that breaks can reduce or prevent stress and help maintain performance.

This got me thinking about how more practices could introduce ‘take 10’ breaks into their days – short, 10-minute intervals woven into our longer shifts. These little breaks aren’t just for catching a breath; they’re an opportunity for self-care.

Supporting female team members

And here’s where things get interesting. The implementation of ‘take 10’ breaks to enhance the overall wellbeing of dental practice teams could also have a specific focus on supporting women in the workplace.

Let’s face it, the prevalence of women working in dentistry means it’s crucial to recognise that a significant portion of our teams will grapple with female-related challenges such as menstruation, perimenopause and menopause – to name just a few – during the workweek.

The implementation of ‘take 10’ breaks is a proactive step in providing our female staff with a valuable opportunity to attend to their needs. Beyond addressing menstrual health, these breaks play a pivotal role in enhancing focus, productivity, wellbeing, self-confidence and communication skills among our team members.

These factors collectively contribute to the overall effectiveness of our team. A workplace that actively cares about menstrual health is not only fostering a supportive environment but also ensuring the optimal performance and satisfaction of its workforce.

This strategic approach can position your practice ahead of the curve but will also underscore the importance of supporting female team members. Considering that half of the world’s population is female, it’s undeniable that certain aspects of female health will resonate across the board.


As well as implementing a planned and routine break in the day, it’s crucial to address another aspect that affects the overall environment – running to time!

In the fast-paced world of dentistry, it’s not uncommon for clinicians to find themselves running a few minutes behind or attempting to accommodate additional patients without ample time between appointments. While this may not always be intentional, the ripple effect on the entire team is undeniable.

It’s important for the dental community to recognise the impact of time management on the wellbeing of its workforce, particularly women.

A practice culture which prioritises efficient scheduling, respecting designated break times, and fostering open communication can significantly contribute to a more supportive work environment. It not only benefits the team’s wellbeing, but also enhances the quality of patient care.

How will ‘take 10’ breaks impact business?

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room – will ‘take 10’ breaks affect the practice’s bottom line? No, it doesn’t have to – especially if we plan it smartly and know our numbers. With careful diary planning and zoning, and factoring these breaks into the business costs, you will be able to diarise short breaks without compromising practice profits.

I would argue that the disruption caused by over-running, and the discomfort this causes some employees, does much more damage to practice profits over the long-term than short, planned breaks that mean your teams feel cared for.

Given the current challenges of recruitment and retention within dentistry, it’s no secret that the profession is facing a tough time.

I strongly believe that the introduction of initiatives like ‘take 10’ breaks could be a game-changer. By offering a work environment that values wellbeing and personal care, we’re creating a space that’s more attractive for women to stay and thrive in dentistry.

Read more from Lucie Simic:

Follow on Instagram to keep up with all the latest dental news and trends.

Get the most out of your membership by subscribing to Dentistry CPD
  • Access 600+ hours of verified CPD courses
  • Includes all GDC recommended topics
  • Powerful CPD tracking tools included
Register for webinar
Add to calendar