Dental Wellness

Ray Johnson, DMD, MAGD

As dentists, we have unique lifestyle and work conditions that make achieving overall wellness difficult. Wellness has been defined as both physical and mental outcomes created by our daily habits. We strive to create better habits, to improve our outcomes. We do this throughout our careers with continuing education, but most of us likely don’t take enough time to think about our personal improvements. Dr. Bill Hettler developed six dimensions of wellness: emotional, occupational, physical, social, spiritual, and intellectual. Focusing on a few of these can help improve our daily outcomes for better wellness.

Most of us, almost unconsciously, participate in continuing education to improve our occupational and intellectual wellness. The Pennsylvania AGD helps to facilitate our development in these categories through the PEAK course tracks. Group and host home events help build our social and emotional wellness. We have even had lectures on physical wellness from Dr. Uche Odiatu and will have a future ergonomics lecture at upcoming PEAK events.

Dr. Odiatu stressed the importance of physical fitness for our profession. As dentists we are constantly moving, bending, and straining our bodies to be able to provide our patients with care. Staying fit allows us to perform at our peak and without pain. With physical fitness comes improved energy and mood. Adding a fitness routine to your daily activities can help create the habits needed for improved overall wellness. He also stressed the importance of improving our nutrition. The effects of nutrition on our growth and immune system is well documented in the literature.

We have unique opportunities in dentistry to create habits that touch nearly all of the six dimensions of wellness on a daily basis. Learning and improving is only part of the equation however. The most important step is to take this knowledge and commit to action—changing our habits so we all can live our best lives.