Mental Health Awareness Month – Great Time for Dentists to Prioritize Self-Care

By Bobi Seredich, Founder of the Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence

Since May is Mental Health Awareness Month, it is a great time to reflect on how you are managing the pressures of being a dentist or working in the dental profession. In my years of coaching leaders, I’ve noticed that their key to success is more about attitude than time. The most successful leaders and dentists take time for self-care while balancing stress.

Your ability to change your mindset and attitude has much to do with self-care. Whether you’re up or down in life or rich or poor, you can change your situation for the better. Remember that you can’t change much if you’re depleted of energy, self-worth or rest. Feeling unhealthy, unhappy or lacking mental focus won’t help either. It is crucial to constantly work on yourself — by doing so, you’ll be able to bring your best self forward to help and serve others effectively. Executives and leaders prioritizing self-care are happier, more productive and more engaged. One CEO said it best in a Harvard Business Review article: “Self-care is no longer a luxury; it’s part of the job.”

Why do some dentists ignore self-care?

If self-care is so important, why do some dentists turn a blind eye? Below are a few reasons:

  1. They think it’s a luxury.
  2. They think it’s a sign of weakness.
  3. Dentistry is demanding mentally and physically daily, and many dentists don’t have the time for it.

Carving time out of a busy schedule can be challenging, but too many leaders are stressed and burnt out. When this happens, there’s a release of the stress hormone that puts your body into fight or flight mode. The emotional part of our brain, the amygdala, kicks in and diverts the oxygen and blood flow away from our thinking brain called the prefrontal cortex (which is responsible for logic, reasoning, problem-solving and willpower). Taking time out of your day to practice self-care might be a little uncomfortable initially, but I promise you it’ll be worth it.

How to practice self-care

If you want to be innovative and creative and solve challenges causing pressure, you need to take breaks and manage your energy and stress. It’s important to disengage to re-engage more effectively. Even short breaks improve your level of productivity and focus.

According to an article on leadership best practices, it stated:

“Specifically, a healthy diet has been linked to better moods, higher energy levels and lower levels of depression. Aerobic exercise increases blood flow, boosting both learning and memory. Getting good sleep has been linked to increased focus, improved cognitive function (including creativity and innovation), greater capacity for learning and improved empathy.” Adam Grant researched the topic of self-care in his book, Give & Take, and he shares how selflessness at work leads to exhaustion — and ends up hurting the very people you want to help. There’s a time when giving and generosity can go wrong.

Grant talks about teachers as a great example. Most teachers are givers, as Grant stated in an Inc. magazine article:

“We love teachers who are selfless, but [the research shows that] the most selfless teachers ended up being the least engaged in the classroom and their students did the worst on standardized achievement tests.”

The selfless teachers put everything into teaching and didn’t allow extra time for themselves or their families. Other teachers were givers but took time for their families and themselves — they didn’t give all of their time to students. Grant shared, “They felt less altruistic, but they actually helped more. Their giving was energizing instead of exhausting.”

The “less altruistic” teachers decided to do things differently and did the following: focused on the team; took time to sleep, eat well and exercise; worked on their strengths and delegated responsibilities that were not their area of expertise; hired great team players.

Here are some quick self-care tips and tricks:

  • Revamp your workspace. Check out these popular Marie Kondo videos on how to simplify your setup.
  • Clean out your mind. The things from your past that are holding you back may originate from your family and your judgment around others. Let go or find a way to confront it, learn from it and then let it go. Learn from your past mistakes, while remembering that you don’t have to keep reliving them. If you’re looking for a great read around this topic, check out The Work by Byron Katie.
  • Take time for just you. Having space from your partner, family and work is re-energizing. Work on your strengths and focus on what brings you joy.
  • Prioritize wellness. Remember to rest, exercise and have a healthy diet.
  • Hire a coach or trainer to support your overall health and wellness. The Millennial Dentist believes in investing in yourself and hiring someone to help you reach your health and fitness goals. We offer several coaching and leadership programs on improving emotional intelligence and managing stress. Here is a link to our public online leadership training courses. We are offering a 15% discount for all Florida Dental Association Members (see details below).

How do you do things that are good for you when you don’t feel like it? Set a schedule. Be flexible with your time. Make time for short meditations or workouts. Go for a walk. Take time for appreciation as a bare minimum.

When a dentist or leader practices self-care and values it, his or her team will follow, creating a more engaged culture. Join me in prioritizing better self-care. Have fun with it and enjoy what you’re doing in life. I just redid my office space and removed a lot of clutter, and it feels fantastic. I’ve started Pilates and yoga again and committed to walking my dogs and meditating more. Now, when I start my workday, I feel more productive and focused.

Bobi Seredich is the Founder of the Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence in Phoenix, Arizona. She can be reached at

Here is a link to our Emotional Intelligence Online Leadership Programs. At check out please add 15Off in the Coupon Code area.

Why Emotional Intelligence in Dentistry Matters

By: Dr. Kelly Tanner

Connection is at the heart of every relationship. Connection is based on trust, consistency, and vulnerability and is critical to foundational growth in relationships. Connection comes from the ability to understand others through sensing, empathy, observing, feeling, and knowing yourself. Essentially for meaningful connection to occur, individuals must be aware of themselves and WHY they want to connect and communicate. If the connection is the vehicle, communication is the fuel for the vehicle to create momentum. Communication is when a shared understanding and common ground build a foundation between individuals. When people seek to develop awareness, they see outside of themselves and their desires. The ego, or the want for self, must be cast aside and centered on why the connection is created.

Why do you want to connect?

Why are you doing what you are doing? Why do you want it? Now, think about why you WANT WANT it. What’s the actual reason? And how would it feel if you had everything you wanted? When you reverse the process, it is about connecting with what you want. Trust is built with people and their experiences to connect with what you want. People need to OWN what they want to improve to get to where they want to go, and improving emotional intelligence is the special sauce to get anywhere you want to go. In the context of emotional intelligence, people can know themselves first and build relationships and connections based on their self-awareness. Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a self-driven process that leads to self-actualization, and AH-HA! Light bulb moment. Emotional intelligence is a skill that can be improved, unlike IQ. Emotional intelligence skills can be learned and help connect you to people and your purpose. Every occupation in the world is centered around helping people. Our highest need that we attempt to fulfill daily is seeking happiness and joy. And in seeking that joy, we try to find ways to understand what we want within ourselves to bring joy to our lives. What brings each of us enjoyment varies; it is love; for some, it is money, and for some, it is sitting by a river. We each strive for joy. At the heart of every occupation, from a convenience store clerk to an ironworker to a secretary, people help people.

Emotional intelligence is a developed skill among high-performance leaders because they help OTHERS get where they want to be. Emotional intelligence is about tapping into your awareness of yourself, your actions, and your purpose and honing a craft that empowers others. Emotional intelligence is about serving others and serving your purpose. It is a synergy without ego that allows others to fulfill their purpose, which meets yours. At the core, that’s what true leaders do.

When we understand ourselves, our blind spots, and how to reverse our triggers and respond differently to others, our perspective evolves, and we can see how we can truly serve our purpose. Higher EQ is linked to people who are mentally and behaviorally agile and, as a result, connect and build relationships at a deeper level. Join me to help you understand how to create and adopt a growth mindset by improving emotional intelligence within your team and your life.

Book Review: The Oral-Systemic Health Connection: A Guide to Patient Care, Second Edition

By Mark Szarejko, DDS, FAGD

This text, which features several authors’ expertise and is authored by Michael Glick, is an expansive view of the oral-systemic connection. The correlations between periodontal disease, cardiovascular disease and Type II diabetes have garnered much attention in the medical and dental professions. While this text reviews these correlations in great detail, many topics are reviewed as they relate to the oral-systemic link. The correlations between renal, pulmonary and malignant disease and oral health are among topics that are discussed and are not topics that received much publicity but are essential to the ongoing discussion of the oral-systemic link.

The holistic approach and continuum between oral and systemic health is also discussed in various topics. The oral manifestations of systemic disease, the correlations between periodontal infections and adverse pregnancy outcomes and the use of salivary biomarkers to detect systemic diseases provide more information about the bidirectional relationship between oral and systemic health and the state of optimal health and well-being.

This text would benefit new and established general dentists, dental specialists and dental hygienists. Patients are well-informed about health issues and dental professionals must be the source of information about the multiple aspects of correlations of the oral-systemic connection. The information contained in this text provides an update and practical information which the clinician can use to answer questions that patients will have about the potential links between oral and systemic health. It also provides a means to establish a foundation that will be necessary to understand the future research which will involve this issue.

This text’s opening and closing chapters provide an excellent glimpse of the diverse topics contained within. Still, they also provide information about issues that are usually not considered in the discussion about the potential links between oral health and systemic health. Chapter One written by Michael Glick, is entitled “Causation: Frameworks, Analyses, and Questions.” This chapter reminds us that it is essential to approach this topic with scientifically valid research that is corroborated among experts before causation can be assigned to a relationship between oral health, especially periodontal disease, and adverse outcomes which involve systemic health. The final chapter, authored by Michael C. Alfano, is entitled “The Economic Impact of Periodontal Inflammation.” This chapter reminds us that the cost of periodontal disease transcends the cost of treating periodontal disease and the cost involved in the prosthetic replacement of teeth lost due to periodontal disease.

The text “The Oral Systemic Health Connection Second Edition. A Guide to Patient Care” is a well-researched text that answers many questions about the potential correlation between oral and systemic health and raises others. This book is not a “fast read” due to the detail in each chapter.

It is an excellent resource for the clinician who has an interest in this discipline and for those who relay relevant and scientifically-based information about this topic to their patients.

Book Review: Orofacial Pain: Guidelines for Assessment, Diagnosis, and Management

by Dr. Anthony J. Carter

“Orofacial Pain: Guidelines for Assessment, Diagnosis and Management” is a text produced by the American Academy of Orofacial Pain (AAOP) and is commonly referred to as the “AAOP Guidelines.” It is a comprehensive overview of all aspects related to orofacial pain. A significant portion of the book is dedicated to Temporomandibular Disorders (TMDs), but it also covers other areas that may cause or contribute to orofacial pain.

As this is the fifth edition, four publications preceded this current edition. Prior publications focused primarily on TMDs. As health care professionals and researchers became more aware of the relationship between TMDs and other disorders of the head and neck, there was a need to expand the scope of this guideline. The topics covered in this text include a general assessment of the patient, diagnostic classifications, vascular and nonvascular intracranial causes of pain, primary headache disorders, neuropathic pain, intraoral pain disorders, diagnosis and management of TMDs, cervical disorders, extracranial causes of pain, sleep and the relationship of pain with mental disorders.  

The book is well organized and follows a logical progression through the chapters. At 289 pages, it is a brief but thorough overview of orofacial pain concepts with practical application to clinical dentistry. I especially enjoyed the chapter on diagnosis and management of TMDs, which happens to be the largest chapter in the book. It provides scientifically sound and effective diagnostic procedures and treatment options. The chapter on sleep and its relation to orofacial pain were brief but very interesting. It provides tips to improve patients’ sleep hygiene that I started to use in my personal life. The only suggestion for the next edition would be to include more photos and diagrams. Throughout the text, there is constant reference to vascular, musculoskeletal and neuroanatomy but no images. I had to refer to my atlas of human anatomy as I read the entire book. When discussing anatomy, it is easier to visualize the author’s point with an image.

This is an excellent text that is a great review for all dentists and specialists at any stage of their careers.