Take Care of Yourself!

by David R. Farkouh, BSc, DMD, MSc (Paedo), FRCDC

Practicing in a profession where our primary focus is the well-being of others, we often don’t take the time we need for ourselves. When I was applying to dental school I repeatedly heard the comment that dentists had the highest suicide rate of any profession and was cautioned by others. Although I don’t believe this to be true anymore we as healthcare providers must take care of our own health whether it be mental or physical. The practice of dentistry is filled with stress. I personally feel that it isn’t the dentistry itself that is stressful. Dealing with difficult patients, practice management issues and long hours can all contribute to significant stress for many dentists. How we process and deal with these stresses is crucial to whether we are happy in and out of our professions. It is important that we all have an outlet from dentistry to provide us happiness and longevity in our careers. We all need to have balance in our lives. We need to spend valuable time with our families and friends when we are not at the dental office. We also need to be there for each other as fellow dentists. No one understands the stresses you are experiencing more than your colleagues who are probably going through the same issues. We forget this far too often in dentistry. If our mental health is in good shape, then we will be better dentists.

Dentistry is one of those professions where at the end of a hard-worked day you are exhausted but you have been sitting on your backside all day. As with our mental health we need to take care of our physical health as well. Whether it be by going to the gym, cycling or joining a sports team, we all need an outlet from dentistry to keep us both mentally and physically healthy. As a pediatric dentist, I am continually contorting myself to get the job done. Doing certain exercises that help keep our core strong will prevent us from occupational injuries, particularly back injuries. If we are planning on practicing dentistry for a long time and then subsequently enjoying our retirement in good health, we need to start paying attention to our overall health now. Although our primary focus is to take good care of our patients, don’t forget to take care of yourself! OH

About the Editor
Dr. Farkouh is a pediatric dentist working in private practice in Toronto, Ontario. He is also a staff pediatric dentist in the Department of Dentistry at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario. Dr. Farkouh is the Pediatric Dentistry Editor for Oral Health