Board Certified Periodontist

66 – What is Wellness?

The Perio Hygienist Podcast
Episode 66: What is Wellness?

Hi and welcome, or welcome back. You are listening to the Perio Hygienist Podcast, a podcast for folks interested in the treatment of periodontal disease and how to manage it most effectively for patients and the office environment — and anyone else who cares to listen.
My name is Dr. Ben Young and I am a periodontist in private practice in San Antonio, Texas. This episode is number 66 and the title is What is Wellness?
I hope this podcast finds you well.
Today I would like to dig into the idea of wellness. What does it take to restore patients from diseases or physical problems, in other words, to make them well? This is the question or problem that drives healthcare, is it not?
The answer is so complicated that it has required and still involves millions of people to dedicate their lives to the study of all aspects of healthcare, not only medicine and dentistry but engineering, physics, chemistry, along with the arts. It would have probably been easier to say there isn’t any part of human life or society that doesn’t touch or impact healthcare in some way. The solution to wellness involves at times a need for hospitals, clinics, and private offices, and all these facilities need their own specialized equipment and trained people. This speaks also to the need for education and training that must be continuous for all of us because we still don’t know everything necessary to help people achieve wellness and keep them there.
But not everything is healthcare. That isn’t the purpose of life – just to sustain life. In this sense, we are participating in something bigger than life itself, if that makes any sense. It must be bigger than we are because we came on the scene, inserted into world history’s timeline, as babies, and grew into who we are now and what we do. This tells me that I am not in charge. I can’t fix everything and fortunately, I am not called to do so. This reminds me of Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer – the one attached to Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step recovery programs.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
The prayer is longer than this but this is the part recited every day by so many.
The idea that not everything in healthcare is healthcare applies to your work environment and mine. What we specifically do when we treat patients out of our specialized training is not all they need to make them well. They need more and so do we.
When we went to school to learn whatever it is we now do professionally, the focus was on specific topics and procedures because time, although it took years, was short. Time constraints edited out certain aspects of effective healthcare. We didn’t know it all when we graduated and it is only in retrospect as we have moved out from there that we can see how little it was we actually were able to absorb. We were hopefully safe beginners. We knew what it took to identify those things we could treat against those things outside our areas of expertise. We would have to grow into relationships with others in other parts of medicine and dentistry to make sure patients received the best care possible. In addition, we needed to figure out how to work with others outside of a controlled educational environment. We had to take on roles of greater responsibility. Also, being human ourselves, we needed aspects of healthcare in the same way our patients’ needed things from us. We would have to learn to be good patients, if possible, ourselves.
Where am I going with all of this?
Simply this.
We are just a small part of healthcare and what people need to achieve wellness. This does not mean we are unimportant. In fact, I would say we have a very critical specialized role to play. Also, we are most effective in dentistry when we know our strengths and weaknesses. It is critical to our health, the health of our patients, as well as our co-workers that we work, not from the lofty position of an unapproachable expert, but from the position of fellow traveler. We are all in this thing called life together. A sense of humor goes a long way. So do words and appreciation and requests for help because they improve the office atmosphere. All of this mysteriously rubs off on the patients as they come and go. They know if the team is emotionally healthy and happy – and when they sense friction, they often quietly just go somewhere else.
Personally, as a periodontist, I support your office and patients by trying to return you, people, who are stable periodontally and who understand their own roles and responsibilities for the management of their own mouths. They may for the first time understand what it is we can and cannot do to help them achieve wellness. They then can participate in their own care by establishing an effective daily homecare routine and making sure they are seen at an interval that can best sustain their oral health. I work to strengthen their trust in dentistry and reinforce the importance of them maintaining a strong relationship with your office, especially the dental hygienist. I’ve said this in the past but will repeat it here. I do this podcast primarily because I do not have any dental hygienists in my office. This is because I want patients to see the value of the supportive periodontal therapy you provide. But to do this most effectively, there needs to be a common manner of care between the two offices. I want patients to feel that they are well cared for by me and you even if we are sending them back and forth.
Finally, about my podcasts. Those who wish to have low stress in managing patients with a history of periodontal disease and who are returning from care by a periodontist should consider listening and relistening to my podcasts.
I have two of them. At the time this podcast is going out, I have also produced one for periodontal patients. In their podcast I spoke about crown lengthening procedures and how long should people brush their teeth. I do recommend you listen to it as well. It is called The Perio Patient Podcast. Just type that into a search engine and it will pop up.
So, there you go. My little pitch to keep listening and, I hope, once in a while, you share this podcast with others, especially co-workers. It is really intended for the entire dental office team.

That’s it for today. Happy Summer. Stay cool. You have been listening to the Perio Hygienist Podcast and I am still Dr. Ben Young. Bye for now.

My dad, unfortunately, passed away when we couldn’t remember his blood type… His last words to us were, “Be positive!”