I have a friend who hired a personal trainer. At one point, this friend fell off the diet-and-exercise bandwagon. Out of embarrassment, she wouldn’t go back to see her trainer. A trainer was exactly what she needed to get back on track, but pride got in the way. That’s when I realized that people who are overdue for a visit to their family dentist sometimes do the same thing.
It’s an interesting trend. The folks who never miss a dental checkup usually have very healthy teeth (go figure). Often, the people who need a dentist the most are the most reluctant to go. Perhaps they know they have a cavity, or they haven’t been flossing, and they aren’t looking forward to a visit where it will be obvious things could be going better.
We want you to know from the bottom of our hearts that it’s OK; there’s no judgment coming from us, and there’s no reason to feel shame. Whether it’s our diet, exercise, or dental hygiene (ahem?), we all fall short of our goals from time to time.
I’m a dentist, and there’ve been times I’ve been afraid to go to my doctor for similar reasons. But you know what? I go anyway, and instead of feeling embarrassed I leave feeling motivated. Your health professionals aren’t here to chastise you; we want to help our patients live happily and healthily.
Accountability for Achieving Your Goals
My friend’s experience with her personal trainer helped me put words to a concept that I’ve understood for a long time — accountability is one of the most important things you can have to help you reach a goal.
According to research, the two factors that are most effective in achieving a desired behavior change are incentives and accountability. Accountability in this case just means that you need to be willing to let others help you achieve your goal.
Writing every day, working out, eating healthy, etc. are practices that get easier with time. Whether you want to change your habits, health, body, relationship, or finances, identifying the right commitment system can make it easy for you to reach your goals.
When you are accountable to someone or a group of people for doing what you said you would do, you can easily get stuff done because you engage the power of social expectations.
When you tell your boss you will get the proposal done by the end of the week, you are more likely to stick to it and do it. When you tell a client you’ll send over a report, you deliver. The expectation alone is enough motivation to get you to commit to it and get it done.
The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) did a study on accountability and found that you are 65 percent more likely to complete a goal if you commit to your goal with someone. And if you have a specific accountability appointment with a person you’ve stated your commitment to, you will increase your chance of success by up to 95 percent!
Your Family Dentist can be Your Accountability Partner
An accountability partner works because we are motivated by our reputations and what other people think of us. We don’t like being called out when we mess up, so other people can actually help us be our best selves. But you have to pick the right accountability partner, one who can be your cheerleader when you succeed and encourage you when things get tough.
Your dental checkup is more than just a cleaning and oral cancer screening (though those things are very important). Dentists are very aware that their patients suddenly become much better with brushing and flossing when they have a dental appointment coming up. Take it one step further and you can get much more out of your examination by moving beyond mere talk and committing to specific actions that will move your dental hygiene goals forward.
Your Bedford family dentist is here to help you and encourage you along the way. We will be your accountability partner. If you have the occasional misstep, that’s OK; so do we!