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Overcoming perfectionism in dentistry – New Dentist Weblog

Photo of Muhalab Al Sammarraie, D.D.S.

Muhalab Al Sammarraie, D.D.S., initially from Baghdad, is the location dental director at AltaMed Well being Providers, one of many nation’s largest federally certified well being facilities. Acknowledged as a 2023 ADA 10 Beneath 10 Award winner and an Incisal Edge journal 40 Beneath 40 Prime Dentist in America for 2023, he’s additionally a world lecturer at Universidad De La Salle Bajio and a preceptor for Tufts College Faculty of Dental Medication college students. He serves as an alternate delegate to the 2024 ADA Home of Delegates and a member of the persevering with schooling and communication committees on the San Diego County Dental Society. Dr. Al Sammarraie’s management spans public, personal and nonprofit sectors, specializing in schooling, social providers and well being care. Past dentistry, he helps activist teams in Iraq, serving to conflict victims and displaced people entry schooling and medical care.

Dentistry represents the right intersection between scientific precision and inventive creativity. It’s not merely about treating tooth; dentists are artists who mix their understanding of organic sciences with distinctive inventive expertise to craft smiles that go well with each face, making dentistry the beaming face of medication. As dentists, our coaching includes engaged on extraordinarily small areas, usually no bigger than a couple of millimeters. We perceive how even a minuscule distinction can dramatically alter a affected person’s look, which might result in meticulous overthinking and a relentless pursuit of perfection.

Even while you create a surprising smile, it’s possible you’ll solely be capable of deal with a quarter-millimeter discrepancy that’s seen to others solely beneath magnification. This consideration to element can result in frustration or remorse over hours of effort, though the result’s wonderful from the affected person’s perspective (and may even impress different dentists). This unending quest for perfection is the muse of our excessive requirements and causes us to repeatedly push the boundaries of precision and excellence in dentistry.

The perils of perfectionism

What’s perfectionism? It’s the continual seek for flawlessness and the rejection of something in need of it. The issue, although, is that while you search perfection, your objectives regularly change and are all the time simply out of attain. Consider it as a race the place the end line is all the time three steps forward, irrespective of how lengthy you run.

This drive for perfection may initially inspire younger achievers by providing a lofty aim to attempt for. Nevertheless, it may well step by step develop into poisonous because it depletes your vitality, causes emotions of persistent inadequacy and makes the accomplishments that you simply do attain much less joyful as a result of they by no means attain your concept of “good.” Because the saying goes, courtesy of Winston Churchill, “Perfection is the enemy of progress.” The relentless pursuit of perfection might be damaging to your psychological well being, usually resulting in stress, anxiousness and melancholy. Moreover, when you’re always searching for perfection in a single space, it’s possible you’ll miss different alternatives that make your skilled and private lives rewarding and pleasurable.

Recalibrate your perceptions

When the seek for perfection turns into an excessive amount of, recalibrate your perceptions — do not forget that perfection is just an phantasm, however striving for excellence is feasible. It’s a small shift, solely a single phrase, however it’s sufficient to reframe your thoughts and stop the unavoidable burnout related to the search for perfectionism.

In my very own journey, I’ve discovered that, in the end, God will result in what is supposed to be, and I’ll obtain what I deserve, even when it isn’t the right final result I initially envisioned. In my tradition, we emphasize steadiness, saying, “Moderation is the adornment of issues,” highlighting that discovering equilibrium is vital to attaining true achievement. Shifting my focus towards inside peace and excellence quite than perfection has been transformative. This transformation has allowed me to develop, mature and achieve knowledge, specializing in the perfect outcomes for everybody quite than selfishly searching for perfection.

Coping with comparisons has been essential on this journey. Some folks appear to have all the things completely completed and painting life as flawless, making you query, “What’s mistaken with me?” There’s a saying, “He exaggerates and makes a giant fuss out of a tiny factor,” which captures this nicely. Some do that deliberately, whereas others do it unintentionally to really feel completely satisfied. I discovered to not choose others and to take solely the constructive elements from these portrayals, specializing in my progress with out unrealistic comparisons. Typically, I hesitate to strive issues as a result of they’re marketed as extraordinary feats. Nevertheless, after I lastly try them, I understand they’re neither as troublesome nor as spectacular as portrayed. This understanding has helped me strategy challenges with a balanced perspective, specializing in my capabilities and progress.

Create a life exterior of your work

Loving your work and being pleased with what you do is pure, however it’s essential to do not forget that dentistry is only one side of your identification. Allocate time for relaxation, social actions and breaks to take care of a well-rounded work-life steadiness. You’ll carry out higher at work while you give your self ample time away from it. The time period “work-life steadiness” is used quite a bit, however it’s a fantasy — you can not deal with each equally. As an alternative, you may attempt for concord by aligning your actions together with your distinctive values, objectives and life circumstances.

Discover hobbies exterior of labor that carry you pleasure, assist handle your stress and can help you step out of the work headspace. Whether or not it’s enjoying soccer (or ought to I say, soccer), mountaineering or studying a musical instrument, partaking in actions you like can remind you there’s extra to life than profession “perfection.”


Discovering achievement usually means wanting past perfection, and volunteering generally is a key to this realization. Giving again to the group, particularly to these underserved, reveals that perfection isn’t essential to make a constructive influence. Moreover, sharing your data and mentoring others can foster constructive modifications, reinforcing the concept everybody has one thing precious to supply.

Volunteering gives a way of goal and perspective. By specializing in the wants of others and tackling real-world issues, you’ll see that the worth you carry isn’t reliant upon flawless efficiency, and success might be discovered solely with continuous progress. Volunteering fosters empathy, reduces stress and builds group connections, enhancing private progress and well-being. It promotes a balanced outlook on life and achievements, which is especially useful for high-stress professions like dentistry, the place perfectionism is widespread.

Keep away from social media comparisons

“Comparability is the thief of pleasure.” — Theodore Roosevelt. Social media is a double-edged sword; it connects us with others but in addition places our colleagues’ achievements on show, usually with out revealing what number of struggles they confronted alongside the way in which. This creates a distorted actuality the place we examine our behind-the-scenes to others’ spotlight reels.

Whereas social media provides alternatives for networking {and professional} progress, the curated perfection seen on-line can result in unrealistic expectations and emotions of inadequacy, contributing to emphasize, imposter syndrome and burnout. To keep away from these poisonous results, it’s essential to strategy social media mindfully. Mirror in your journey and acknowledge your distinctive challenges and milestones with out evaluating them to others’. Your path is uniquely yours, and any progress you make is noteworthy.

Ditch the thought of good

Perfectionism usually does extra hurt than good. It will probably trigger profession stagnation, drive self-deprecating ideas and foster imposter syndrome, all within the curiosity of making one thing unattainable: perfection. In case your objectives all the time really feel out of attain, take time to reevaluate and probably dial them again to the realm of realism. Bear in mind, whereas perfection is an phantasm, excellence is one thing tangible to attempt for. Reshape your notion, embrace your imperfections and see how excellence, not perfection, is the true path to skilled and private achievement.

By understanding the perfectionist mindset and implementing these methods, we will remodel our strategy to dentistry. Embrace progress and self-compassion to seek out achievement in our achievements, and benefit from the journey towards excellence with out the burden of perfectionism.



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