ODA Dental Health and Wellness Committee

By Dr. Todd Beck


As dentists we manage the stress and anxiety of our patients every day.  We have developed a rich and complex skill set that allows us to provide much needed treatment to people who are not always appreciative and most often fearful, anxious and even sometimes angry.  We do all of this with the self imposed need for perfection and under the backdrop of a troubled economy; a combination which, as best, makes owning and running a small business a daunting task.  Add to all of that the unique challenges of managing employees and it is no wonder why most of us choose to work only four days a week.

We have CE courses and study clubs for everything from practice management to placing gold restorations.  But where do we turn for help with the emotional and personal issues we face?  Where do we go to get tips on how to better cope with our fear, anxiety and depression?  How do we get help when our coping mechanisms include drugs and alcohol?  Who do we turn to if we are suffering the anxiety of a board complaint or a lawsuit?  This is where the Dentist Health and Wellness Committee might be able to help.

I have been involved with the DHWC for over 12 years now.  In 2000 I reached out to the committee for help.  I was struggling with an addiction to narcotic pain medicine and my world was falling apart.  What I received was an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on and excellent advice and direction.  It was a phone call to this committee that started the process of getting my life back on track.  At that moment I decided the rest of my career would involve “paying it forward”.

The work we do is most often anonymous; and for good reason.  We are dealing with very sensitive and personal issues.  We get referrals from the Board of Dentistry, concerned staff and family members, attorneys and dentists themselves.  The issues range from general stress to suicidal thoughts.  The ages range from dental students to retirees.  The request is always the same; “I just need someone to listen, I don’t know what to do”.  The response is always the same; “I’m glad you called; let’s see how we can help you”.

I need to be clear.  None of us on this committee have the training nor are we able to solve these problems by ourselves.  What we do have are the resources to point people in the right direction.  We are often the first step in the journey to healing and a better life.  We are an ear and a shoulder, and sometimes that is all that is needed.

If you or someone you know might need our help, please don’t hesitate to call our anonymous hotline at 503-550-0190


Dr. Beck graduated from OHSU in ’94 and completed a two year GPR at St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City, OK in ’96.  After practicing and teaching for a few years in Oklahoma, Dr. Beck returned to Portland in 1999 and purchased Mt. Tabor Dental.  Dr. Beck opened a second location at South Waterfront in 2010 and for the past decade has been an Assistant Professor at OHSU in the departments of Community Dentistry, Restorative Dentistry and Urgent Care.  Dr. Beck has served as Chair of the Dentist Health and Wellness Committee for the past seven years, is on the Board of Directors for the OAGD and is currently President of the Multnomah County Dental Association.

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