Who is the most important person on our health journey?
Is it doctors and dentists?
Not in our opinions.
It’s you, it’s me–each of us is the most important person on our own journey to greater health.
So when it comes to making the sometimes-challenging decisions we’re faced with, why do we commonly give ‘the professional’ opinion more weight than our own sense?
In this article, Rebekah, one of our amazing admin team members, shares her experience with taking ownership of her health journey. We found it very inspiring and think you’ll enjoy it also… Here’s Rebekah…
To quote my high school English teacher, “You know more than you think you know.”
Now, sometimes you really do know your current knowledge limits (but the beauty of that is that we can always learn more). Or, when it comes to certain topics, you may wind up discovering that you know less than you thought you knew. And of course, there are also times when we just don’t know what we don’t know. Ya know? 🙂
However, when it comes to your body, you probably really do know more than you think.
For example, you know:
- How your body feels.
- Your medical history and maybe even some of your family’s medical history.
- Your activity level.
- Your stress level.
- What you eat, and for that matter, whatever else you’re putting into or onto your body.
- How much sleep you’re getting (as well as the quality of the sleep you’re getting).
- What kinds of chemicals you use (or don’t use) in your home for cleaning, etc.
- What actions you’re currently taking for self-care.
And so much more!
So with all of this knowledge that we have, why is it that so many of us don’t trust ourselves or our gut instincts when it comes to taking control of our own health?
Many of us were never taught to look within…
As children, we started going to the doctor and dentist for routine checkups and sickness/problem appointments.
But many of us were taught to go to these medical professionals, let them poke and prod us, maybe get a word or two in edgewise about how we’re feeling, listen to their proclamation of what’s great or not-so-great about our current health, assume their diagnosis is ‘the absolute truth’, and then go on our merry way, perhaps with a prescription or two in hand.
That is what our parents did, that is what their parents did before them, and so on.
It just gets (unwittingly) passed down through the generations because after all, these professionals completed a LOT of schooling, so they must know way more than we do about what’s going on with our bodies, right?
Not so fast!
Doctors and dentists (and hygienists and assistants!) can be our allies and trusted experts, yes.
It’s true that they have academic knowledge and professional experience that most of us lack.
However, the body is a very complex matrix of subsystems that can be influenced by a bunch of different factors, and since you’re living in your body, it’s important to remember that you, too, have valuable input.
It could even be argued that our own firsthand, personal input is the most important of all the information provided by all of the people in our health journey.
The ideal game plan
The ideal path is to find medical practitioners who realize that it’s best to work with their patients as a collaborative team to identify a goal, review the information together, and devise a plan of action based on a combination of the information that the patient provides and the tests and know-how that the medical practitioner brings to the table.
Remember, you can interview, hire, and fire these professional helpers.
In other words, you can choose who you are willing to work with, and mutual respect can be a key deciding factor.
If this team doesn’t feel like a good match for you, it may be time to look elsewhere for a medical professional who will work with you (instead of dictating to you).
Finding a great dentist
We here at OraWellness are not medical or dental professionals, but we have been taking responsibility for our own health for years (and for some of us here, for decades), so we have definitely realized that we are the MVP (most valuable person) on our health journey.
And, we often get asked how to find a dentist.
A good dentist can be hard to find, but once you do find one, they can really be a dream to work with.
Here’s a helpful tip: If you find a holistic practitioner (doctor, chiropractor, nutritionist, etc.) who you like and respect, ask them who their dentist is or if they know of any dentists that they approve of in your area.
Here are our links that explain how to find a dentist:
Helpful Resources to Find a Qualified Dentist to Assist You
7 Key Components of a ‘Dream Dentist’
Guide to Safe Dentistry eBook – explains the questions to ask a potential dentist to ‘interview’ them and help determine if the dental team is optimally trained to assist you in navigating to greater oral and whole body health
How to find awesome emergency dental help while traveling
It can also be helpful to search online for reviews on the different holistic practitioners, dentists, and organizations that you encounter so you can see what kinds of experiences other folks have had with them.
Becoming your own oral health advocate
Until recent years, my family and I definitely held the belief that, “the professionals must know what’s up with me better than I do, so I’ll just go along with whatever they say.”
Our friends and extended family had a similar mentality, so really, how could we know any different?
However, a few years ago, some surprising news caused my family to begin our own health journey, which helped us to understand that lasting improvement can only happen if/when we take responsibility for–and are active participants in–our own health goals each and every day (in addition to finding a great medical and dental team to help us along the way).
With all that said, here are some practical tips that we’ve learned on how to become your own oral (and whole body) health advocate:
- Use the resources above to find a dentist you feel in your gut that you can trust.
- Cultivate the habit of listening to your body so you know when something’s up. For example, get to know your mouth, and pay attention to how you feel when you put something into or onto your body.
- Before going to your appointment:
- Take a few minutes to sit quietly and visualize how you want it to go. It may sound silly to you now, but this technique can help your vision to come to fruition.
- Consider bringing someone with you to your appointments so you have another person to help you process everything. Since this person isn’t in the “hot seat”, they may be able to come up with questions you wouldn’t have thought to ask.
- If you know you get stressed out at these things, consider using essential oils to reduce anxiety.
- Get a notebook (or create a notes file on your smartphone) and write down any symptoms or questions you have before going to your appointment. That way you won’t forget what you wanted to ask about, and as you get your answers, you can take notes to reference later.
- ALWAYS ask for copies of your records at the end of each visit, and consider charting any test results on a spreadsheet so you can see (and track) the bigger picture. Remember, it’s your body, so who better to have records of any medical/dental work being done to it?
- Once you’ve mastered the art of becoming your own health advocate, teach your children how to do it, too. It’s a great habit that can serve them going forward.
How to make empowered choices while ‘in the hot seat’
Now, it’s all well and good to think about these things when we’re not on the spot, but how do you put this into practice under pressure, when you’re face-to-face with them or in the dental chair?
- Take a deep breath. Take several, if needed. Lots of people forget to breathe properly when they’re under pressure or stressed out.
- Remind yourself that you have valuable information to bring to the table, too.
- Even if you can’t think of any questions, feel free to take notes so you have more time to digest the information.
- Be brave. If you do think of questions after you’ve already gone home, contact the medical or dental practitioner to ask them.
And if a big procedure is recommended:
- Ask for time to think about it before making a decision. Or, to quote Dr. Hal Huggins, “Just say no.” There is no harm in saying no to give you some breathing room to make a more educated decision. However, there is harm in consenting to a procedure that doesn’t feel right to you at the moment–not only are you overriding your gut sense and therefore disempowering yourself, you could potentially wind up with permanent damage to your body.
- Consider getting a second (and sometimes even a third) professional opinion before proceeding.
We hope these tips help you take ownership of the driver’s seat and remind you that you’re the MVP on your journey to greater health!
What about you?
Do you have any tips for becoming your own oral (and whole body) health advocate?
Have you found a dental or medical practitioner that’s super awesome to work with? If so, please post a comment below and share what steps you took to find them so others can learn from your experience!
Helpful, Related Resources:
How to find a qualified dentist to help you [article]
7 components of a ‘dream dentist’ [article]
Guide to Safe Dentistry ebook [Free ebook download]
How to find emergency dental help while traveling [article]
The first step to dental self empowerment [article]
How to find the healthiest diet for YOU [article]
How to use essential oils to reduce dental appointment pain and anxiety [article]
Expert interview with Dr Hal Huggins [expert interview]