Royal College of
Dental Surgeons of Ontario
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Wellness Initiative

Dentists have the same risk of developing substance use disorders (alcohol or drug abuse or dependence) as the general population; 10 to 15 per cent of dentists will have a drug and/or alcohol problem sometime in their lives. Addiction is a human disease, and some of the people who have it are dentists. The disease of addictions shows no favourites.

However, what is different for dentists and other health care professionals from the general population is the public trust that goes with the privilege to practise, and the responsibility to obey the provincial dental act and controlled substance regulations.

It is the dentist’s duty to ensure safe treatment of their patients. An untreated substance use disorder in a dentist can threaten the dentist’s life and family stability and place patients in jeopardy.

The RCDSO has worked with three centres, all well-known for their work in drug and alcohol treatment and recovery, to create a resource network for Ontario dentists. These centres are Homewood Health Centre in Guelph, Ontario, The Farley Center in Williamsburg, Virginia, and the Talbott Recovery Campus in Atlanta, Georgia.

The College is committed to supporting dentists who struggle with addiction.

RCDSO Wellness Consultant

Dr. Graeme Cunningham is available for addressing the assessment and treatment needs of dentists by helping them find suitable assessors, treatment providers and residency programs. His dedicated direct line is 416-722-9997.

All calls are private and confidential.

Mental Health Resources

Many health care workers report a wide-range of health conditions linked to work-related stress, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse and even suicide. Health care workers are 1.5 times more likely to be off work due to illness or disability than people in other sectors due to psychological burnout or distress. Health care professionals, including dentists, are obligated to maintain their own health and fitness to practise, yet many may be ashamed to admit having mental health concerns themselves.

There are many public mental health resources available to help you if you are find yourself experiencing a mental health concern or illness. 

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)

Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences

Source: Mental Health Commission

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