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Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS is known as a top dental consultant by Dentistry Today.

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Dental Practice Solutions - Debbie Bittke

Destress and Experience Success

By: Debbie Seidel-Bittke, RDH, BS

January 11, 2013


Dentistry is a profession that seems to be uniquely afflicted with a great deal of stress and anxiety.

Why the stress? Is it the fast pace and trying to see patients in a timely manner? Or is it the stress that patients bring to the dental office that makes us feel stressed? Many dentists today are feeling stress from the financial issues associated with today’s economic challenges.

As a clinician you are performing your duties in an extremely intimate area on clients who, in most cases, are not totally excited about the whole situation of sitting in the treatment room.

This clinical situation would be enough to elevate the stress chemicals of any normal person. Compounding it is the fact that the practitioner is faced with additional pressures. He or she is also a small business owner. In this capacity you must wear many hats. You are leaders, managers, scheduling coordinators, counselors and money managers. Is it any wonder that dentists seem to rank extremely high in incidence of stress-related maladies? These include burnout, loss of passion for their profession and actual physical symptoms. Dentists must learn to manage their stress before their stress manages them.

First you must recognize that not all stress is bad for you. Without any stress you would be like a spineless jellyfish, unable to function in the real world. The stress of owning your own business, of providing for your family, of serving your patients to the best of your abilities can actually be good for you. Stress really can make you stronger, more resilient and increase your ability to relate to others. We can call this type of stress, good stress or eustress. The stress you want to eliminate is the stress that always seems to create anxiety and worry. Let’s call this distress or bad stress. These stressors produce headaches, backaches, insomnia, indigestion and depression. Most of these stressors are self-inflicted.

We really do create a lot of our own stress.

Here are 3 techniques to manage stress and it may also assist other dental professionals

1) Live life in day-tight compartments,

2) Manage your priorities and determine what are your most important and essential daily actions (your crystal balls),

3) Rule your impulses

The first technique,” Dale Carnegie talks about; “live life in day-tight compartments” and you can read more about this in his book, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.”  This is exemplified by the words of Thomas Carlyle, “Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what clearly lies at hand.” Unfortunately most of us do not follow this advice and stew and agonize over things that we cannot control or feel guilty over events that have already taken place.

Guilt emanates from the past. These are actions or events that are over and done with, yet you continually relive them and demonstrate regret. Worry emanates from the future. These are things or events that have not yet occurred, yet you agonize over them. Realize, you cannot live in the past. The past is dead and gone. “Let the dead bury the dead.” You cannot live in the future. The future is merely a promissory note. You have no guarantee that you will even be around tomorrow. “The load of tomorrow, added to that of yesterday, carried today makes the strongest falter.” Live for today only.” Every day is a new life to a wise man or woman. Live only in the present that is all you have. Close off the past and the future and live in day-tight compartments. If you can accomplish this and live only for today by living in these day-tight compartments you can eliminate most guilt and worry.

Remember that the present is just that a, “present or a gift,” that is given to us. Enjoy it. Horace, the Roman poet, wrote “happy the individual and happy they alone who can call today his or her own. They who secure within can say, tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.” Strive to shut the iron doors on the past and the future and live in day-tight compartments. This will eliminate a great deal of worry, anxiety and guilt. Start today and seize this day to obtain the most out of it. Live only in day-tight compartments.

I have been hearing about the stress dental practice owners have been experiencing for about 4 years. I developed a few systems and programs to over come their financial stress. After so many years of dentists calling and asking “Debbie, How can I fill all the holes in my schedule?” And I heard “Debbie, How can I increase my New Patients #s?” and also you have asked “Debbie, How can I have more patients say “YES!” to accepting my care and schedule for treatment?” I have now created a few solutions to answer these questions.

If you are asking these questions here are the solutions for you:

Forever White™

Case Acceptance: Get Them to Say “YES!”

Much success to you this year!