Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Art of Loving, Self love, Self care and your dental appointment

I find that my biggest challenge as a dentist has also been the greatest opportunity for me to grow as a professional and individual. Because dental disease is in most cases painless, many patients seek care only when they have pain. By then, the condition is usually serious and non reversible, for which only definitive treatment is the answer.  

As I enter my third decade of providing health care to my patients, I still believe that it's critically important to educate my patients about the importance of preventive care and educating and inspiring them to adopt a culture of wellness instead of just treating disease. 

That takes time and a relationship of trust. The benefits, however, far outweigh the time it takes to create this trusting relationship. When I see a patient come in with bleeding gums and broken down teeth, it becomes a personal mission to not just 'fix' them but also teach them how to prevent such situations. Knowing what I do about the oral systemic link, I can't afford to be lax about stressing the importance of regular dental visits, the role of proper diet and healthy nutritional habits, exercise, awareness of susceptibility to dental disease and prevention of  inflammation in the body. As your dentist, I am at a tremendous advantage to be able to help you understand these links and not only treat cavities and periodontal disease but screen for oral and head and neck cancer, sleep apnea and snoring and reduce the inflammatory burden on your immune system, thereby reducing your risk of getting many diseases.

So at 229 Charles Street, our entire team takes educating our patients as an extremely important job.

Lack of urgency to seek dental care due to the painless nature of dental disease is only one of the barriers that patients face when it comes to making regular dental appointments. Many times it is serious financial constraints, lack of awareness of the importance of oral health, limited availability of dental services, etc.

But after many years of practicing, I have now identified another major factor. A misunderstanding of what Self love and self care really means. I recognize this as a philosophical factor but see the negative effects of a patients belief that self love is selfish love. Nothing is further from the truth.

'My turn will come after the kids are done' 'I'm too old for Invisalign anyway' I just don't have time to come in for an appointment for myself after I'm done driving the kids places'  'My work is just crazy' 
There is an element of truth in all of these reasons to be challenged to find time for ourselves. But just a small element. When we take care of ourselves, we are able to function optimally for others.

Erich Fromm's book the 'Art Of Loving ' is one of my favorite books. It describes Self Love so eloquently.

At our practice, we aim to go beyond educating and inspiring you but truly seeing you for the unique individual that you are and encouraging you to express your self love by taking care of your health.

Until next time,
Be well, Do well, Live well

Sunita Merriman, DDS