On 23 April, dental therapist Victoria Wilson will address her peers on the importance of overall wellbeing for dental hygienists and therapists.
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). I think everyone would agree that the profession has moved forward to make themselves more approachable and accommodating.
Now there is an increasing realisation that it affected the wellbeing of the dental professional. And we must not ignore this. We mustn’t overlook recognition of their own needs.
There is no doubt that the world of dentistry offers exciting challenges and rewards. But one also has to appreciate the justifiable demands, that is part of the honour of looking after patients. I am sure this is relatable to every healthcare professional to varying degrees.
BSDHT South East
I am lecturing at the BSDHT South East at the end of this month. I will cover 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 healthcare professionals.
Very early on, I identified the challenges we face in clinic as hygienist and therapists. This is mainly down to the physical nature of the work we do.
Collectively, as a profession, we are eager to go above and beyond for our patients. We commit and dedicate ourselves so much that we often end up quite exhausted. Burnout is something that we often discuss amongst ourselves.
We should consider ourselves lucky that a lot of work has been done to tackle the stigma associated with mental health problems. It is reassuring to see that an increasing number of people seek help when they reach that burnout threshold.
During the pandemic, many papers have been written about stress, anxiety and burnout. It leads to new frameworks developed for the profession to provide clear and simple everyday guidance. These are designed to support mental health wellness for all members of the dental team.
Every one of us should make actual steps to incorporate wellbeing into our day to day 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 speaking session is an opportunity for people to reflect on where they are, both professionally and personally. One size does not fit all however, and my role is not to give magic solutions to anyone.
Some hygienists and therapists have attended my online yoga classes for one-two years on a weekly basis. They observe a positive impact on mindset, increased focus, increased range of movement, more energy, a reduction in lower back and neck pain, to name a few.
Others have joined my business courses in oral health promotion. They also find 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 therefore help people understand the need for constant commitment to putting themselves first. They can 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. This is a way of reinforcing its ongoing support to dental professionals and helping drive leadership in dentistry through innovation in oral health promotion.
The BSDHT South East is taking place on 23 April at the Holiday Inn Gatwick, Povey Cross Road, Gatwick RH6 0BA. My speaking slot, which is kindly sponsored by Philips, is scheduled from 9.15am to 10am.
I am looking forward to seeing everyone there.
For more information about Philips, please visit www.philips.co.uk/dentalprofessional.