October is celebrated as the national dental hygiene month around the world. This month of celebration can mean different things to different people, but first and foremost, it is set to be an annual reminder for good dental hygiene habits. But why is it actually important to have this annual reminder, especially now?
First, it helps to explain what habits are.
Driving our car to work, cycling, or dentists performing certain procedures on dental patients might all be done without the need for much conscious thought. That is, they qualify as habits. Whatever we do often enough will become a habit, and according to some, it takes around 66 days on average for a behavior to become automatic (therefore a habit). Even though there can be some downsides into this automatization of behavior, like how grabbing a bag of potato chips in the grocery store easily becomes a habit, they are also very beneficial in other situations. Habits make our lives less cognitively demanding, requiring us to use less mental energy on some things. This makes us more efficient at the end of the day, when the energy is left to use on more important matters.
Why is it important to re-evalute our habits?
Let’s think about our dental regimens for a second. It is surprisingly easy to fail noticing when not brushing our teeth once turns into not brushing our teeth twice in a row. It sort of happens – maybe you are extremely tired in the evening and explain to yourself how you will spend 10 minutes brushing your teeth the next morning (without actually doing so). Or what about dental appointments? We have written about the cycle of missing a dentist appointment once in our earlier blog, where we stated that skipping a dental appointment once makes it more likely that you skip another one. Because of this automatic and double-sided (possibility of positive and negative consequences) nature of habits, it is extremely important to sometimes take a closer look and re-evaluate them. Do we do something too much? Has an unhealthy behavior turned into a habit recently?
Why especially now?
Another important factor to point out is the pandemic times that increase uncertainty in all of us, perhaps making us more prone to habits that are essentially decreasing this uncertainty. Humans are biologically wired to steer in the direction of positive feelings and stay away from negative ones. As we want to over-ride the unpleasant feelings of uncertainty, we often turn to things take make us feel good. And these things easily turn into habits – we do them consistently, to over-ride those uncertain and unpleasant feelings!
Habits at Finndent
Habits are not only evident in our personal lives, but in the business environment as well. At Finndent, we are continuously breaking habit-loops to stay up-to-date and innovative in our work. Indeed, the basis of our work here at Finndent is to challenge what we already know, and not be afraid of change.
Because we understand the importance of re-evaluating ones habits, we want to encourage everyone to take part in the National Dental Hygiene Month, and re-check your dental health habits (and why not all others too!).
We wish you all a great month ahead!
In summary: While habits are great in increasing efficiency in our daily lives, there are both positive and negative consequences. The importance of re-evaluating our habits is especially important to catch the negative ones early on. Knowing that habits might form to reduce negative feelings and uncertainty helps in understanding and consciously replacing them with positive ones.