How do you know when it’s time to call in a hygiene department coach and how do you know who to call?
Here are 10 reasons when calling on a hygiene department coach makes sense for your team.
As you read below, make note of anything that may resonate with your dental practice:
Most of the hygiene appointments are Prophy appointments. Approximately 50% of American adults 30 years of age and older have some level of periodontal disease.1
You have multiple hygienist’s and the patients have a different experience depending upon which hygienist they see.
Several times a week you have holes in your hygiene schedule.
You want your hygienists to play an active role in presenting patient treatment plans. Show patients what you see as you working their mouth. Take intraoral pictures or hand them a mirror to show them what you see.
You have new employees and even after previous coaching you want and need to re-calibrate and update your current systems.
You have looked a your KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) and see a lot of perio patients and restorative care patients who have unscheduled appointments.
You recently acquired this dental practice, possibly you had a lot of employee turnover and need a plan to support your philosophy of patient care.
You’re thinking about selling your dental practice and know that the hygiene department is the easiest & fastest way to increase your practice profitability.
Each month you paid your bills, but there was no money left for yourself. Maybe you want to earn more money or give team bonuses, etc. Optimizing the hygiene department will increase doctor’s income, the employees can now get a bonus, etc.
You have employees who are willing and excited to learn!
The arrival of summer brings with it new hope for sustainability and greener pastures. As more people become aware of the rising threat of global warming, we can see more improvements in the way businesses — large and small — continue operations.
Sustainable practices have been around for quite some time. This movement encourages people to choose less wasteful methods and products for use in their daily lives. And while the biggest target of the sustainability movement is the bigger corporations, dental practices, too, are now using sustainability in business.
Have you implemented green policies in your dental practice? If not, here are seven ideas you can use right now in your business.
Choose to Go Paperless
Going paperless is a great way to optimize your dental practice workflow. It can make setting appointments more convenient for clients. Plus, automated forms are much more reliable than paper, since paperwork can easily be misplaced. There are over a dozen available software for clinics to buy and download.
A few examples are:
There are many other applications and software you can try besides the ones mentioned on this list. Take the time to look research them online to find the perfect app that fits your needs.
Partner With Sustainable Businesses
Partnering with other sustainable businesses can help bring your sustainability goals to fruition. Green businesses use environmentally friendly production processes in their operations, reducing their environmental impact and improving carbon emissions. By partnering with these companies, you — in turn — reduce your energy consumption and as a result decrease your carbon footprint.
Consider switching to a green bank that uses sustainable practices during transactions. You can also transfer to green utilities and energy providers, like Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, and Southern Company — among others. Lastly, consider stocking all-natural oral care products from toothpaste to dental floss.
Use Organic or Eco-Friendly Scrubs
Organic or ethical scrubs are now available in most medical practices — including dental practices. Besides reducing your carbon footprint, one of the best things about these products is that they enhance blood circulation and help increase tissue oxygenation. As a result, your body maintains consistent optimal body temperatures, even while you’re hard at work.
There are plenty of brands that now offer ethical scrubs. A few that come highly recommended are Barco One, Bella Organics Medical, Mediclo, Figs and Skechers. Ethical scrubs can cost anywhere between $30 to $70 on up — so they aren’t inexpensive. However, with the right care, they can last you a long time and are incredibly good for the environment and your health.
Say Goodbye to Single-Use Plastics
The thing that most people don’t know about single-use plastics is that they don’t biodegrade. They just break down into microscopic particles that poison our environment. These microplastics end up in our water sources and food, ultimately entering our bodies later in the process.
Human exposure to microplastics is believed to cause oxidative stress in the body, according to researchers. It can also cause DNA damage and inflammation, among many other health conditions.
For dentists, surface barriers, plastic cups, and patient giveaway bags can all be substituted with more eco-friendly and reusable options.
A few examples include:
Metal or autoclavable plastic
Autoclave cassettes in reusable cloth
Reusable fabric bags
Minimize Hazardous and Chemical Wastes
Most dental facilities are already required to use amalgam separators due to the quantity of mercury they contribute to wastewater. Another thing you may do to help is to think about greener alternatives to amalgam restorations. Another technique to make a real impact is to use digital photographs rather than traditional film X-rays.
Order in Bulk
This could be the easiest method for your practice to leave a positive impression on the environment. Bundling orders result in less packaging and lower vehicular emissions.
When you buy in bulk, less vehicles are used to deliver a larger variety of dental office supplies. If you have your supplies delivered in larger quantities, larger packaging allows the delivery truck to be packed more efficiently. By using more efficient transportation, you’re also helping to save the environment by lowering CO2 emissions.
Switch to LED Lighting
LED lamps can last up to 20 times longer than conventional lighting. This not only helps the environment but also saves you money on electricity costs. Some LED bulbs have a lifespan of two to three years — or even decades.
Consider the long-term environmental benefits if everyone made this little change, e.g., less landfill waste, less production of new lights, and reduced shipping and packaging—three major criteria used to evaluate environmental problems.
Sustainability is not something that anyone can easily achieve in a year. It will take quite some time before you make any noticeable changes to your dental practice. The important thing is that you start as soon as you can. Your efforts will compound and eventually create a larger impact on the environment. Take time to read through the seven ideas we shared today. Try to apply them to your dental practice and see how far it takes you.
Thank you to our Guest Author Kartreena Sarmiento.
I have always enjoyed playing tennis and in high school I played on the tennis team.
If you are like me, then mediocrity is not an option and being “just” average at what you enjoy is a non-negotiable.
As a high school student and tennis player, it was very important to me, that I was one of THE BEST players and I did everything in my power to do just that!
In high school, I hired a coach, Manni Papparani. I got a part-time job to pay for a coach so I could be the best!
Each week my tennis coach helped me refine my skills as a tennis player. Back in the late 70’s video was not real popular but my tennis coach would record videos of my swing and my serve.
My tennis coach was a professional and definitely on the leading edge,
I had a minimum-wage job part-time, and yet, I paid to be the best on the tennis team!
Rafael Nadal is one of the best tennis players in today’s world of tennis.
Why would Rafael Nadal hire a coach?
He is one of the worlds best tennis players in the world afterall?!
Does this even make sense?!
Why hire a coach when you are at the top of your game?!
Rafael is at his peak. He knows what it takes to be a winner and yet, he hires a coach. He hired his uncle, ToniNadal.
To some, this may sound like a waste of Rafael’s time and money but to those of us who think being at the top of our game; hiring a coach is a non-negotiable.
Rafael Nadal has always had a coach. This is a very important part of what makes him the best.
Do you intend to be your best?
Dental school gave you a great start to become a clinician but if you intend to be a successful dental practice owner, you must be at your best to play this game called “Dentistry.”
How do you consistently improve your game of dentistry?
How Do You Improve Your Game of Dentistry?
Let’s look at Rafael Nadal’s Coach.
Toni Nadal as an example of a great coach:
Toni Nadal has worked as a tennis coach and has been a manager for a tennis club for many years.
He went before Rafael as an expert/professional tennis player.
He has a trainer’s degree and taught at the tennis club.
This example demonstrates an expert who has been “in the trenches,” they have educated themself to know what it takes to be great!
“Your success is outside your comfort zone?”
What are the Qualities of a Great Coach?
Again, let’s look at Rafael’s uncle and personal coach as an example:
Coach Toni is known for putting pressure on Rafael as he progressed forward in his career.
Most people don’t want to feel pressure. It’s human nature to not want to step outside our comfort zone.
Coach Nadal brought Rafael to the point of crying numerous times; but did this create success or failure?
The answer is an obvious NO.
Getting to the point of tears was part of Nadal’s journey. It’s part of what made him so tough.
Look at anyone who has accomplished great success.
Did they stay in their comfort zone or did they get out of their comfort zone?
They got out of their comfort zone? Right?!
Respect for equipment. This means taking care of the office dental equipment. Nadal believed that throwing a tennis racket showed a lack of respect towards people who could not afford the same equipment and the sport itself.
In the dental office this means you take responsibility for your actions. You show up on time to work. You have a sense of pride and ownership. This goes right alongside of respect.
Toni Nadal as a coach, trained Rafael on poor tennis courts with old tennis balls to show that it was not the equipment that would decide if he won or lost. He believed that losing was a fact of competing in sports and that the only one responsible for winning or losing was the player.
As a team member and even as the owner of your dental practice, how are you responsible for your success or loss of productivity?
Coach Nadal had an authoritarian attitude with the players that he coached. Toni Nadal wanted his opinions to be important to players he was coaching rather than it just being advice.
As the owner and leader of your team, you must have the authority to make the best decisions, you must be looked as an authority in your patients eyes as well as your employees.
Look to an authority who can guide you doctor, someone who will take you to your next level of success.
Why Hire a Dental Practice Management Coach?
In dental school dentists learn all about teeth, but very little about bookkeeping, cash‑flow, accounting, traditional & online marketing, hiring/terminating employees and so much more.
Dentists who try to do everything alone usually find it impossible to grow to a level of sustainability for the lifetime of their dental career. These are the dentists who can’t survive an economic decline.
Business experts, dental coaches, practice management consultants will help a dentist and their dental practice work more efficiently and accomplish more in less time and with less effort.
Hiring a dental coach, practice management consultant, will support the systems (or lack of) to optimize your dental practice productivity.
Asking for support from specialists will help you achieve more personal fulfillment and reduce your chances of the proverbial “burn-out.”
It’s Time to Take Action!
No matter where you are in the life of your dental career, you will benefit from hiring an expert practice management coach/consultant.
Without the support of a dental practice expert, you will work harder, you will work longer hours, you will not be as effective: as a leader, a husband and/or parent. If you want to enjoy your life more, you need to have a coach, and expert to support you in many different ways.
Most dentists want to have consistent growth and you need consistent growth in any business.
The best dental coach / consultant, will help you work smarter, not so hard. They will guide you to be the best leader of your dental practice. Your leadership skills will need constant refinement. This is just how successful businesses operate.
Never let your P & L, your budget, your production dollars today, stop you from hiring an expert.
The best expert for your dental practice will support you to optimize your systems and create a harmonious team. In return your level of productivity will receive annual dividends.
Hiring a dental expert should bring you continuous dividends.
Your part is to “show up.” When you take action, if you show up, you are a winner with a high ROI…..for the life of your dental practice.
When you take action now you can participate in our Dental Practice University (DPU) with up-to-date systems for you and the entire team. This also includes 16 AGD CE Credits when you are enrolled over the next year.
DPU has video trainings for everyone on the team, it includes scripts and forms to customize and use immediately.You can try out DPU now for ONLY $9.99.
Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS is founder and CEO of Dental Practice Solutions. Debbie is also a former dental hygiene program director. Her expertise is optimizing the hygiene department by taking a total team approach; including the doctor as the leader.
Schedule a FREE Profit Boosting Session Here today.
A CRUCIAL ELEMENT of every successful dental practice is your culture.
What type of patients do you want to serve?
How do you want your patients to feel when they are in your office?
One of the first tasks we have our clients complete is to write down the type of culture they want for their dental office. We have a short template the doctors fill in the blanks, so we can “nail” their delivery of culture. We want to help our clients attract and retain their best patients. It also helps enjoy your day when your schedule is filled with patients who enjoy you and you enjoy having them in your chair.
The next step we take with our clients is to support the doctor; our client, to attract their ideal patient. What the office culture represents must be a part of everything the patients see, feel, hear, etc., etc. This must appeal to all of your patients’ senses. This feeling is the real reason why your patients will choose to return to your office.
Patients don’t truly know how great your clinical skills are. All they know is if you made them feel good or bad. And yes, they will remember if you hurt them.
If you want to be a family friendly office, how does your practice reflect this message?
If you want your office to feel like the Ritz Carlton, how do you deliver this message to your patients?
Make Your Culture Delivery A Priority for Your Practice
Many of our clients want to have a family friendly office and if this sounds like an example of what you want in your dental office here are a few suggestions to make your office feel family friendly.
You can also take these suggestions and tweak them to match your office culture:
1. Show off your family by inviting your employees to have pictures of their family around the office.
One of the doctors I worked for many years ago wanted to have a family friendly office. He also enjoyed photography. You can probably imagine what I am going to tell you about this doctor’s office. Yes, you guessed it! This doctor had a lot of beautiful pictures of his family throughout the walls of his office.
2. Make sure you invite the employees to have pictures of their family around the office. For example, in their operatory invite your employees to have pictures of their family, their pets, etc.
3. What type of reading materials do you have in your reception area?
Make sure you have family friendly reading materials for family members of every age.
4. What is playing on your tv if you have one in your reception area and in the operatories?
Make the viewing on your electronics: tv and music, family friendly. No obscenities or inappropriate language in the lyrics or messages/pictures on your TVs.
5. What are you giving patients as a “thank you for choosing our office?”
If this is a child or teenager, what do you hand out to them as a thank you? It is not only the parent you want to provide a “wow” experience for but the child or adolescent as well.
6. Be sure your schedule is blocked for those smaller children who need an early morning appointment and for school-aged children who need afterschool appointments.
We’re Here for You and Your Team!
We’re committed to providing you with almost everything you need to achieve your practice goals, whether you’re working to create a family-friendly environment for your patients or maybe you want to upgrade your hygiene department. If you have any questions about what more you could do in your practice, let us know in the comments below!
If we don’t provide something you need for success, we can direct you to the best expert.
We are here to serve you. Our team is growing so we can cover more of what your practice needs to be successful. Just ask us how we can support you and your dental practice. We can’t wait to hear from you!
Thank you for placing your trust in hiring us!
About the Author: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS
CEO: Dental Practice Solutions DENTISTRY TODAY considers Debbie a top dental consultant for the past 18 yrs.
The focus of Dental Practice Solutions is to create healthier, longer lives for your patients while supporting the practice to optimize their hygiene department. The team at Dental Practice Solutions, takes an integrative approach with your team to create an increase in your production and collections without working harder.
When you continue to use the systems implemented, your dental practice will sustain growth for years to come.
Schedule a no-cost profit boosting call today and discover how you can be your best in 2018: Email to schedule a call with Debbie: firstname.lastname@example.org or Call our office to schedule this today: 949-351-8741.
There have been many cases when patients who need certain expensive cosmetic or restorative dental procedures, cringe at the exorbitant cost and often forgo the expensive treatment completely.
It would seem that dentists are quick to recommend costly dental treatments with little or no regard to how their patients are going to pay for the costs.
The dentist is in a unique position to advise their patient on the best and most affordable dental care ensuring their patient is happy and financially comfortable.
How can your dental practice achieve this and keep or even grow your patient base?
Once a dental diagnosis has been made, use this time to educate the patient on the proposed procedure. The end goal should always be helping patients achieve and maintain their best oral health.
The patient should understand the benefits of the treatment plan and be able to make an informed decision, as opposed to opting out of the treatment because of what they believe is a high cost of dentistry.
The benefits you outline should focus on how the treatment will improve their overall health, comfort and appearance. This will help the patient make an educated choice based on your professional advice.
The patient may fully understand the benefits but still think the treatment is too pricey and not justified, but at least the patient sees you as being upfront and honest. This contributes to building your good reputation.
Be honest about the cost of the proposed treatment plan. This should also include all the dental appointments required and the length of time it takes to complete the treatment.
Being candid from the beginning is important in building a strong relationship, great rapport, between the dentist and patient, based on trust and honesty.
If you are able to offer an alternative treatment plan that takes less time or is less costly, be sure to offer it to your patient. This will leave the patient feeling like you have their best interests at heart rather than just making a quick buck!
It is a good idea to give your patient a written estimate of the treatment plan.
This shows that you are transparent about the costs and are willing to stick to the plan and the fees you’ve discussed; provided there are no “surprises” (aka: changes), during the treatment in the form of unexpected additional costs. Ensure the patient understands that “changes” to a treatment plan are possible.
The patient will also have a record for future reference during or after their treatment.
Some points to include in your written price estimate:
The treatment proposed with the time it will take to complete from start to finish. Ensure that you include a provision that complications may arise due to unforeseen circumstances- this may impact the length of time of the treatment and even the costs.
A breakdown of the fees as discussed with the patient at the initial consultation. This should clearly show what portion is covered by the patient’s dental/medical insurance and a fee the patient will have to cover “out-of-pocket.”
Outline any payment options your dental practice offers. Does your office offer a special patient discount plan? Be clear on the amount that needs to be paid upfront before treatment begins, if there is any.
Explain your dental practice’s billing options- whether you have convenient online payment options or how often invoices are sent out- either via email or postage. This will improve patient payment compliance. Who needs an inconvenience when trying to pay a bill?!
Clarify how any amounts that are in arrears are dealt with. It is expected that some patients will not be able to pay their bills on time. This gives the patient options without impacting the reputation of your dental practice.
When you make an effort to connect with the patient you are able to explore all the available alternatives for his dental treatment but within his budgetary constraints. This builds a strong relationship between the dentist and patient.
A happy patient is one who returns to your practice for all future dental care, brings the whole family and recommends you to friends thus, growing your patient base.
Dr. Nabil Mockbil received his DDS in 2001 from Umea University in Sweden, regarded as having the best dentist programme in Sweden for undergraduates. He’s now the founder of Swedish Dental Clinic in Dubai
Contact your highly trained and experienced dentist
Written by: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS, CEO of Dental Practice Solutions
INCREASING FEES IN YOUR DENTAL PRACTICE can be a tricky subject. Patients don’t like to pay more, especially if they’ve been around for a long time and they’re used to the old rates, but it can’t always be avoided. So, what’s the best way to go about raising your fees so that it won’t cause any problems? Increasing Fees, The Right Way
Each year we recommend that our clients take a look at their fee schedule and their PPO insurance fees. We include this for all of our clients, so they know if they are within the range of fees for their community. We also work with clients who are looking to eliminate PPO’s in their dental practice, so we are looking over their current PPO’s.
For our clients, each month we provide a PPO Wizard and review fees of treatment completed. We are constantly inspecting your progress and any inefficiencies that may occur.
We recommend a slight increase in your fees annually, depending upon what your range of fees are for your community.
Managing Patient Responses
When you make a slight annual change to your fees your patients are not likely to notice a change.
When you look at this dessert plate, what words come to mind?
It is the same thing with your patients. How you talk about fees, treatment plans, payment options and anything you say to your patients, it is all in the words you choose and how you say those words that really matters.
Bring Us Your Questions
If there’s more you’d like to know about handling fee increases, give us a call. We’re here to help ensure that your practice gets the success it deserves, and part of that is navigating the tricky waters around patient fees.
We are happy to take a quick look at your fees and PPO’s. Just ask us about the PPO wizard we use.
Keep working hard! You’re doing great!
ABOUT Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS
DENTISTRY TODAY considers Debbie a top dental consultant for the past 18yrs.
The focus of Dental Practice Solutions is to create healthier, longer lives for your patients while supporting the practice to optimize their hygiene department. The team at Dental Practice Solutions, takes an integrative approach with your team to create an increase in your production and collections without working harder. When you continue to use the systems implemented, you will benefit from production that creates dividends year after year, for the life of your dental practice.
Debbie is also a former Hygiene Program Director and clinical assistant professor for the dental hygiene program at USC in Los Angeles.
Debbie is passionate about supporting dental teams to provide a profitable, patient-centered dental practice through improving systems and efficiencies in the dental hygiene department.
Grab You No-Cost Hygiene Department Training:
Free Gingivitis Webinar and Schedule a Strategic Planning Session: Enroll in the webinar and view at your leisure by clicking this link.
You and your team are personally involved in your business daily. This can make it difficult to evaluate the areas of opportunity that are available to you. Even the most well-trained team can have instances of inefficiency or miscommunication, leading to breakdowns in patient care and impacting your workplace environment.
Just as you recommend your patients receive a full examination annually, we recommend the same for your business. Whether we have an ongoing relationship with you or it’s been years since we’ve evaluated your team, we recommend scheduling a checkup of your practice. During this evaluation, we may recommend the following:
· Evaluate current practice goals and benchmarks
· Evaluate team morale and motivation
· Evaluate your systems and protocols
· Evaluate overall patient satisfaction
· Create a success plan for moving forward
All too often, business owners attempt to motivate their team with no outside guidance. In some cases, this approach can have some success. However, as a business owner, it can be difficult to see the patient perspective or to evaluate a team member without being influenced by your personal connection. Having a person outside of your organization reinforce the importance of your systems can be difference between stagnation and the progress you desire.
If you’re looking to make this year even better than the last, schedule your consultation today.
Patient Loyalty: Keep Your Dental Patients Returning
ONE OF THE MOST important things a dental practice can do is earn and keep patients returning. When patients return to your practice again and again, it’s better for their dental health, but it’s also better for your practice!
In today’s environment of consumerism, most dental patients in your dental practice are probably satisfied to be your patient but how many of them are truly loyal?
People in general, have high expectations. Not only are your patient’s insurance driven but they are more price-conscious than ever before.
People have more access to oral health information and comparison shopping in today’s world. Dental patients who are only satisfied will leave your office if or when a “better” offer comes along; especially if their insurance tells them which dental office will pay for their dental care.
Patients judge your dentistry by how you make them feel. The patient loyalty process begins from the first “hello,” and it includes everything that happens even after you leave your office.
What are you doing in your dental practice that sets you apart from the other businesses, other dentists in your community?
Do you know how your patients feel after leaving your office?
Do you know what your patients are saying about your dental office and your team?
Ask your patients to complete a survey and ask them to add this to your online reviews.
The Benefits of Loyal Patients
Why do your patients continue returning to your office?
Having a schedule full of your favorite patients means your dental team doesn’t spend a lot of time calling, texting or emailing patients to fill the schedule. This most likely makes you feel more fulfilled in your career when you see patients you really LOVE!
When you love your patients, you most likely love your job. The day goes by quickly when you enjoy what you do, with the people you enjoy spending time with.
We Can Help You Increase Patient Retention
We are always here to help you find success in your practice. Improving your patient relationships is big part of your success!
Keeping patients returning to your office is the most cost-effective way to build your dental practice.
We have discovered that patients return to their dental office more frequently when the dental office has a WIIFM system. At Dental Practice Solutions, we created a Lifetime Whitening program that promotes your office and keeps your patients returning to your office. This has proven to reduce cancellations and no-shows.
If you have any questions about how you can earn patient loyalty, don’t hesitate to ask!
Check out our customized patient loyalty program. We offer premium whitening gel, customized with your name. your logo and at wholesale.
Debbie Seidel-Bittke, is CEO of Dental Practice Solutions. Dental Practice Solutions focuses on helping dentists around the world to achieve their personal and professional goals by optimizing their hygiene department. Debbie has a team of consultants who optimize your front office processes, insurance reimbursement, credentialing and so much more.
Debbie has amazing insight that will tap into the true profit potential of each practice. When using the systems and strategies created by Dental Practice Solutions, dental practices will dramatically grow their current hygiene productivity.
The experienced team at Dental Practice Solutions can help dentists create their dream practice and enjoy a more fulfilling life.
Give us a call to have Debbie speak at your next national, state or local event, or call for a no-cost practice boosting session: Email:email@example.com. Call us at: 949-351-8741.
It is true – being a dentist is stressful. Most patients dislike coming and are themselves stressed or anxious and this often comes across as rudeness, aggression and irrational behaviour. No one seems to appreciate or understand how hard it is to fix a tooth when you are leaning over, ruining your posture and straining your eyes.
Dentist Various Types of Stress
Many patients do not want to take your advice and simply think they know best despite the level of knowledge, experience and expertise you have.
Many complain about the bill, blow things out of proportion, ask the same question over and over even though you spent forever explaining it and even drew them a picture. And why do the challenging patients all seem to be booked in on the busiest and most demanding of days?
Then there is constantly being pushed for time, dealing with the bickering and team dynamics and their inability to think or organise anything for themselves – which come on doctor you know you’ve had a hand in as you are so controlling and need to micro-manage everything!
Add to that the bills are overdue, stock needs ordering, cash flow is a drip feed and the most vital piece of equipment has just blown up and yes…. It’s not surprising you’re stressed!
What Dentists Were Never Prepared For
Dental school fails to prepare the fresh-faced young and eager dentist to cope with the pressures they will face once graduated and working in dental practice. Instead it puts you under enormous amounts of pressure to learn, to achieve, and to come up to standard, pass exams and see patients on clinic at the same time.
You learn not to complain, to suck it up because you have to be the one to make it work, pay the bills, make the patients happy. You hold it all inside and put your brave face on as you dare not show you are overwhelmed and not handling the workload.
We come to rely on coping mechanisms like sugar, caffeine, alcohol and even drug abuse to handle the demands of daily practice; demands that we vent at our staff, patients, families and friends and then beat ourselves up over. Is a downward spiral!
Eventually we get sick, develop musculoskeletal problems, anxiety and depression, become de-motivated, resent our job, our staff and our patients and suffer from professional burnout and a higher than average rate of divorce, drug and alcohol addiction and suicide.
The statistics speak for themselves; in a study from the British Dental Journal July 2004, 90% of dentists said they drank alcohol regularly (with 1 in 7 dentists having an alcohol problem), 10% smoked and 35% were overweight. 62% suffered from heartburn, wind or indigestion, 60% reported being nervy, tense or depressed, 58% reported headache, 48% reported difficulty in sleeping and 48% reported feeling tired for no apparent reason.
Results also indicated that levels of minor psychiatric symptoms were high at 32%, similar to doctors at 27% and higher than the general population, which has been reported at 18%.
It is obvious from the studies that dentists do encounter numerous sources of professional stress, which can impact negatively on their personal and professional lives. Because of this dentists are prone to professional burnout, anxiety disorders and clinical depression and must be made aware of the importance of maintaining good physical and mental health to enjoy satisfying professional and personal lives.
Anecdotally, health professionals do not seek help for their own stress and personal frailty readily and instead are likely to put on a brave face and pretend they have the situation under control. Many often refuse to seek help for fear they will be stigmatised or lose their job whilst many others remain in denial.
Would it not then be sensible and beneficial to teach dental students and dentists a different way of managing stress and caring for themselves so they would be better equipped to deal with life? What if we could show dentists how to live in a way that supports them to deal with their issues and stresses and thus be able maintain their own health and remain fit and healthy both physically and mentally?
Solving the Dentist Stress Challenge
On a business level it’s important that you have systems and processes and are able to delegate to your team and have a team that is engaged and aligned to your practice values and mission. Sounds like a lot right there. Plus, as well as taking care of the business side of things you must learn to take care of your number one asset – YOU.
Here is a simple common sense approach to health and vitality that encourages you to care for and respect your body. This has worked well for me and many of my clients.
Eat to Support the Body
By assessing how the body reacts to foods (and situations) we can see what is beneficial and what to avoid such as gluten, dairy, sugar, caffeine and alcohol as these can cause stress to the body or may make you feel unwell. It is also a well-known fact that what we eat can affect our mood and wellbeing.
Go to bed early after unwinding from your day to support you to get plenty of good quality sleep. Wake when your body feels to, not when the clock or society says you should, which may be earlier than you are used to. Once you establish a healthy sleep pattern you awake less exhausted and full of energy.
Be in Control of Your Choices
Every choice we make affects and contributes to what happens in our life. These choices can either be self-caring and nurturing or not. The body constantly communicates with us about how those choices impact on it. If we override or ignore those messages instead of addressing them then eventually the body will suffer aches and pains, digestive problems, emotional fluctuations, stress, tension etc and illness can result.
Exercise gently to keep the body fit, strong and supple. This assists us to be physically healthy without over-stressing the body, causing muscle tears or injury and producing excess lactic acid build up which can cause pain and stiffness.
Focusing the Mind
The constant chatter of our mind and thinking about other things and situations instead of the task at hand is draining and stressful. It is like a computer trying to run several programs at once, it uses up a lot of energy and drains the batteries. By remaining more present and focusing the mind to what is occurring in each moment we save energy and reduce stress levels. By switching off the incessant brain chatter it is easier to connect to the body and how we feel and thus remain calm.
The Gentle Breath Meditation can help to calm and de-stress the body and provide a moment to stop and reflect on how we are. Being aware of our breath allows us to feel when we are stressed or holding tension. By breathing gently we can slow the heart rate, reduce our blood pressure and let go of tension. By tuning in with our body we can feel where we are tight and holding tension; e.g. if our jaw is clenched, shoulders are up around our ears, our breath is laboured or whether our movements are rigid, tense and rushed or not; and then choose to let that tension go and allow the body to relax.
Sometimes our issues and the pressures that we face are too much for us to handle alone. It is important that we realise that everyone at some point in their life finds it hard to cope and that it is perfectly acceptable to seek support and ask for help.
Self-care is an integral and essential part of having a long and healthy dental career and should be incorporated into the undergraduate curriculum and be offered as part of our continuing professional development education. By equipping people with the tools of self-care that they can carry throughout their career; ill health and the need to use sugar, caffeine and alcohol or drugs as coping mechanisms could be reduced and avoided. In this way our health care providers including us dentists would be a living example to those that we are caring for, treating and educating on wellbeing.
About the Author
Dr Rachel Hall, business coach and founder of Ascendancy Business Coaching for Dentists, dentist and practice owner. Rachel’s coaching helps you develop tools and skills for a dental office that is less dependent on you, so you can do what you love and focus on being productive and happy through planning, strategy and systems – “without them you don’t own your business it owns you”.
You can learn more about her by going to one of her websites: