You don’t need to have fear of retirement.  HOW DO YOU FIGHT FEAR?   Knowledge!  What is involuntary dental retirement?  It is the termination of active dental practice when you are not ready to stop practice. Unfortunately this happens frequently.  Your chance of this occurring is about one in four.  This is backed up by years of detailed insurance data and is a risk we all take. Why don’t we hear about this?  Because no one talks about it.  They say they are “retiring early” or “moving to be in a warmer climate”.  The truth is they don’t have a true choice and would prefer not to make it public.  It is sad, but it is reality.  It is human nature and factor in a Type AA dentist personality, you will understand it completely.

If you have a 20-30% chance of being forced to retire before you are ready, isn’t it wise to be prepared for that possibility?  Absolutely.  For those optimists out there, you can move on and cross your fingers. For the rest of us,  the reality of risk is readily apparent.  This doesn’t mean that you have to sit up every night with chronic anxiety. What it does mean is you should take a few simple steps now to avoid a disaster later. We should have fire insurance, car insurance, wills, trusts, and healthy 401K’s.  Why? Because we know there is risk and we are just being prepared for possible challenges to our life plans.

How do you prepare for a disaster? You make plans and practice/rehearse the actions you would take. In the event of an accidental severe injury or illness, the steps that need to be taken are logical and well thought out. One of the first questions that need to be answered is “Are you disabled and to what degree?”. Unless you are in hospice, you need to understand your true value. It will be very hard initially, but planning for transition is key in long-term survival. Whether you choose to teach, consult, or volunteer,  you still must come to the conclusion that you are relevant and have value. Hopefully you can return to work. This may not be the case.


  1. Make sure you have a detailed Practice Continuity Plan.
  2. Have a firm Mutual-aid Agreement in place.
  3. Involve your spouse with your practice (Financial&Management).
  4. Purchase a very good Disability Insurance Plan.
  5. Invest and save conservatively and wisely.
  6. Review your plans annually and involve your family.

The steps to take after a potentially career ending event are covered well in our prior posts.TEN STEPS TO SURVIVE DISABILITY. Review our prior posts on practice continuity plans, disability insurance, and practice transition.

Retirement is in a category by itself, and we will leave it to the experts.   We defer to the ARD (Association of Retiring Dentists) for ideas.  There are thousands of additional resources nationally available and your diligent efforts will be rewarded.  Once you are injured or ill, your preparation will pay off.  It will not totally alleviate the stress and anxiety that follow, but it will definitely help.  Follow our recommended steps. They will required some effort  and you will be granted survival and a valued life.


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