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The Gratitude Advantage: Finding Happiness and Fulfillment in Dentistry

Articles, Publisher's Note

Do you remember how you felt when you got your Dental School Acceptance letter?

What about when you survived another year of Dental school? Got through your first clinical procedure? The boards? And then the feeling you got when you were handed that diploma at graduation.

I was talking to my roommate from Dental School, reminiscing about old times, when he brought up a pep talk I gave to him during an extremely tough stretch of exams and patients during our third year. I had told him that we were at a life-defining moment.

We were going to succeed or we were going to fail. And our lives would be forever changed as a result. Our future depended on this. Our families were depending on this. My friend joked at how dramatic I got… but it
worked.

He brought up this memory because he liked to remind himself how important it was for him to become a dentist—What he had put himself through and what he was prepared to do. And it made me think of how sometimes we say we are sick of this profession or ready to move on when at one point in time becoming a dentist meant everything to us.

And I share this story with you, because sometimes we need a dose of reflection and a lot of gratitude to combat the self inflicting abuse we put on ourselves as dental professionals. So, the next time you’re feeling imperfect and inadequate as a Dental Professional, focus on the things that you have accomplished and do every single day in the operatory.

Embrace Your Awesome Skills and Impact:
Hey, let’s take a moment to pat ourselves on the back! We’ve spent years mastering our dental skills, and it’s no small feat. Gratitude helps us realize just how awesome we are and the incredible impact we have on our patients’ lives. Also, reflect on the amount of additional training you put in via CE, conferences, and networking so that you can be the best version of yourself. This should and deserves to be celebrated.

We Build Real Connections with Patients:
Dental care isn’t just about fixing teeth—it’s about connecting with people. Gratitude is like a secret handshake that opens the door to meaningful patient relationships. When we genuinely appreciate our patients’ trust and confidence, it shows in our interactions. We listen better, understand their concerns, and create a comfortable space where they feel valued. Building these genuine connections helps us forge long-lasting relationships, turning our dental chair into a friendly hangout spot. So, be grateful for the opportunity to forge these relationships and reflect on the enormous impact its made in your own life.

From Obstacles to Learning Opportunities:
Life throws challenges at us left and right, and dentistry isn’t exempt from that rollercoaster. But hold on tight because gratitude can turn these challenges into cool learning opportunities. When we approach tough cases or setbacks with gratitude, we flip the script. Instead of getting down, we focus on the lessons hidden in those experiences. Reflect on the lesson learned from the obstacle and be grateful for the opportunity

Rock that Work-Life Balance:
We know how easy it is to get swallowed up by work. But wait—gratitude to the rescue again! By taking a moment each day to appreciate the good stuff outside of work, we find balance in the chaos. Gratitude reminds us that there’s more to life than just drilling and filling. We cherish our personal relationships and make time for self-care, making our lives richer and more fulfilling on every level. So be reflective on all the things that dentistry made possible for us in our personal lives and how it continues to provide for us.

Finally, I’d like to tie things up with a story about relationships. Because Dentistry is more than just teeth. Its a profession focused on relationships. And the biggest and most impactful relationships we create are the ones with our team members. I have had the privilege of helping a number of my own team members reach their goals and dreams. Whether it was CJ who went from a RDA to a RDH or Tiffany who went from a DA to dentist, I am grateful for playing a small part in their journey. So, as you reflect on what has made your career in dentistry so worthwhile, simply look to the relationships you’ve cultivated to find your answer.

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