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 positioning dental director at AltaMed Well being Companies, one of many nation’s largest federally certified well being facilities. Acknowledged as a 2023 ADA 10 Below 10 Award winner and an Incisal Edge journal 40 Below 40 High 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 Drugs college students. He serves as an alternate delegate to the 2024 ADA Home of Delegates and a member of the persevering with training and communication committees on the San Diego County Dental Society. Dr. Al Sammarraie’s management spans public, non-public and nonprofit sectors, specializing in training, social providers and well being care. Past dentistry, he helps activist teams in Iraq, serving to warfare victims and displaced people entry training and medical care.

Dentistry represents the proper intersection between scientific precision and inventive creativity. It’s not merely about treating enamel; 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 drugs. As dentists, our coaching entails engaged on extraordinarily small areas, typically no bigger than a number 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 if you create a shocking smile, it’s possible you’ll solely have the ability to give attention to a quarter-millimeter discrepancy that’s seen to others solely below 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 inspiration 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 wanting it. The issue, although, is that if you search perfection, your objectives frequently change and are at all times simply out of attain. Consider it as a race the place the end line is at all times three steps forward, regardless of how lengthy you run.

This drive for perfection may initially inspire younger achievers by providing a lofty purpose to attempt for. Nonetheless, it might probably steadily turn out to be poisonous because it depletes your vitality, causes emotions of continual inadequacy and makes the accomplishments that you just do attain much less joyful as a result of they by no means attain your thought of “good.” Because the saying goes, courtesy of Winston Churchill, “Perfection is the enemy of progress.” The relentless pursuit of perfection will be damaging to your psychological well being, typically resulting in stress, nervousness and melancholy. Moreover, in case you’re continually 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 — keep in mind that perfection is just an phantasm, however striving for excellence is feasible. It’s a small shift, solely a single phrase, but it surely’s sufficient to reframe your thoughts and stop the unavoidable burnout related to the hunt for perfectionism.

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

Coping with comparisons has been essential on this journey. Some individuals appear to have all the pieces completely executed and painting life as flawless, making you query, “What’s fallacious 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 comfortable. I discovered to not decide others and to take solely the constructive elements from these portrayals, specializing in my progress with out unrealistic comparisons. Usually, I hesitate to strive issues as a result of they’re marketed as extraordinary feats. Nonetheless, once I lastly try them, I notice they’re neither as tough nor as spectacular as portrayed. This understanding has helped me method challenges with a balanced perspective, specializing in my capabilities and progress.

Create a life exterior of your work

Loving your work and being happy with what you do is pure, but it surely’s vital to keep in mind that dentistry is only one facet of your id. Allocate time for relaxation, social actions and breaks to keep up a well-rounded work-life stability. You’ll carry out higher at work if you give your self ample time away from it. The time period “work-life stability” is used lots, but it surely’s a fantasy — you can not deal with each equally. As a substitute, you possibly can attempt for concord by aligning your actions together with your distinctive values, objectives and life circumstances.

Discover hobbies exterior of labor that convey you pleasure, assist handle your stress and assist you to step out of the work headspace. Whether or not it’s taking part in soccer (or ought to I say, soccer), mountain climbing or studying a musical instrument, participating in actions you’re keen on can remind you there’s extra to life than profession “perfection.”


Discovering achievement typically means trying past perfection, and volunteering is usually a key to this realization. Giving again to the neighborhood, 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 adjustments, reinforcing the concept everybody has one thing invaluable to supply.

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

Avoid social media comparisons

“Comparability is the thief of pleasure.” — Theodore Roosevelt. Social media is a double-edged sword; it connects us with others but additionally places our colleagues’ achievements on show, typically 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 affords alternatives for networking {and professional} development, 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 method 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 concept of good

Perfectionism typically does extra hurt than good. It could possibly 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 at all times really feel out of attain, take time to reevaluate and presumably 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 rework our method to dentistry. Embrace progress and self-compassion to search out achievement in our achievements, and benefit from the journey towards excellence with out the burden of perfectionism.


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