Being the best version of you

BSDHT South East Regional Group Study Day

I don’t think I need to reiterate how challenging the last two years have been for everyone. However, it has been heartening that the profession has been incredibly adaptable and resilient, always putting patients first to ensure they remained safe, comfortable and happy with their treatments.

Dental professionals have also used the pandemic as an opportunity to provide patients with a number of new and different touch points (thanks to virtual technologies) and I think everyone would agree that the profession has moved forward to make themselves even more approachable and accommodating.

Now there is an increasing realisation that the wellbeing of the dental professional has been affected and must not be ignored – recognition of our own needs must not be overlooked. There is no doubt that the world of dentistry offers exciting challenges and rewards. However, one also has to appreciate the justifiable demands that is part of the honour of looking after patients and is, I am sure, relatable to every health care professional.

I will be presenting at the BSDHT South East Study Day, at the end of this month, about the importance of prioritising our wellbeing to ensure we continue being the best version of ourselves, for our patients. Wellbeing is an important aspect that underpins every element of our work as health care professionals. Very early on, I identified the challenges we face in clinic as hygienists and therapists, because of the physical nature of the work we do. Collectively, as a profession, we are eager to go above and beyond for our patients, we are so committed and dedicated that we often end up quite exhausted, and burnout is something that I often hear being discussed.

We should consider ourselves lucky that a lot of work has been done to tackle the stigma associated with mental health problems, and it is reassuring to see that an increasing number of people seek help when they reach that burnout threshold. During the pandemic, many papers were written about stress, anxiety and burnout leading to new frameworks being developed for the profession to provide clear and simple everyday guidance which is designed to support mental health wellness for all members of the dental team.

Every one of us should be making actual steps to incorporate wellbeing into our daily life. However, awareness is one thing, but until we are actively participating in something that can benefit us, we will not make tangible progress.

My session will be an opportunity for us to reflect on where we are, both professionally and personally. One size does not fit all and my role is not to give magic solutions to anyone. Many hygienists and therapists have attended my online yoga classes for the over the last two years, on a weekly basis. They tell me that they have enjoyed a positive impact on their mindset, have increased focus, an increased range of movement, more energy and a reduction in lower back and neck pain, to name a few. Others have joined my business courses in oral health promotion and found that through channelling their interests on a particular topic, they can continue to fuel their enthusiasm within the profession.

I hope that my BSDHT session will help my peers understand the need for constant commitment to putting themselves first, to listen to their mind and body, to build a daily routine or enhance an existing routine that serves their wellbeing as a dental professional. Long term, the more we commit to looking after ourselves the more it will benefit individuals in the profession, the practice team, and patients.

Philips Oral Healthcare has supported me throughout 2020 and 2021 as a way of reinforcing its ongoing support to dental professionals and help drive leadership in dentistry through innovation in oral health promotion.

The BSDHT South East Study Day is taking place on 23rd April at the Holiday Inn Gatwick, Povey Cross Road, Gatwick RH6 0BA and my slot, which is kindly sponsored by Philips, is scheduled from 9.15am to 10.00am. I am looking forward to seeing everyone there.

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