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Journal of Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry Official publication of Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry
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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 40  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 217-218

Get your habits right!

Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry; Professor, Department of Pediatric and Preventive Dentistry, KSR Institute of Dental Science and Research, Tiruchengode, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission21-Sep-2022
Date of Acceptance21-Sep-2022
Date of Web Publication18-Oct-2022

Correspondence Address:
Sharath Asokan
Editor-in-Chief, Journal of Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry; Professor, Department of Pediatric and Preventive Dentistry, KSR Institute of Dental Science and Research, Tiruchengode, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jisppd.jisppd_393_22

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How to cite this article:
Asokan S. Get your habits right!. J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent 2022;40:217-8

How to cite this URL:
Asokan S. Get your habits right!. J Indian Soc Pedod Prev Dent [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Jan 27];40:217-8. Available from: http://www.jisppd.com/text.asp?2022/40/3/217/358840

We are what we do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”

- Aristotle

We juggle through multiple tasks and chores every day. Some are new while others are repeated every day. However, only a few actions are repeated exactly the same way without extra efforts. These actions are behavior patterns acquired in day-to-day life. They become a customary practice over time, making it almost involuntary. These behavior patterns repeated continuously become our habits.

Different perspectives on habits have been discussed by psychologists and philosophers. Early 20th-century psychologists such as Ivan Pavlov, BF Skinner, and John B Watson were associated with behaviorism, an approach to psychology. Behaviorists believed that people were conditioned to respond automatically to certain stimuli. When cycles of action (stimuli and response) and consequences were repeated, habits were formed. Philosophers like Aristotle used terms such as hexis and ethos. Hexis is a characteristic or disposition owned by a person. Ethos is the way of life and it helps by guiding moral and intellectual development. Habits became entwined with ethics and moral virtue. David Hume referred to habit as “the cement of the universe” as it is a great guide to human life.

Let us look at habits from a pediatric dentist's perspective. First, the dental curriculum has taught us about oral habits. Oral habits could include healthy habits such as brushing, rinsing, and flossing. However, we have the habit of focusing on deleterious oral habits such as thumb-sucking, mouth breathing, and tongue thrusting. Instead of giving importance to just deleterious oral habits, priority must also be given to other concepts such as meaningful habits, soft skills, etiquettes, and ergonomics. Inherent soft skills, etiquette in dentistry, and other skills when learned and repeatedly used over time can be conditioned as habits. Habits are crucial instruments that help navigate our dental world in a better and more meaningful way. Choosing the correct instrument is critical to building a good practice.

Habits are not just routines or mere ticks. They encompass our identities and ethics; they teach us how to practice our faiths. As we evolve, we learn, unlearn, and relearn. James Clear in his book, “Atomic Habits,” makes it look simple. A few good tips on habits to be applied to life and pediatric dentistry:

  • Focus on the process and not the goals. Goals are the end results one wants to achieve. However, the process is what will lead us to the result. It is important to make (egocentric) children understand and enjoy the process of maintaining good oral health rather than setting goals which they are not keen to achieve
  • Change from outcome-based habits to identity-based habits. Outcomes are the results. Identity is what you believe about yourself. Identity-based habits focus on who we wish to become. In life and in dental practice, it is always about our identity. If your habits define you, you have got the right habits you want
  • Symptom prescription is a reverse psychology technique whereby you address the symptoms that someone brings to therapy by encouraging them in some way to engage in those symptoms. Dunlop beta hypothesis works on the principle of symptom prescription to stop thumb-sucking habits in children. When you are ready to break an empty or useless habit this technique can be tried
  • Break bad habits and build good habits. Make good habits easy and satisfying. Rewards associated with good habits make us repeat the desired habits. Successive approximation of the desired behavior until the desired behavior comes into being is the key.

At any point in life when one feels stagnant or stuck in a slump either in career or personal life, by simply dropping bad habits and developing good habits, one can transform and build a better and happier career/life.

Get your habits right – Reframe your future!

Getting habits right,


   References Top

[TAG:2]Bibliography[/TAG:2]  Back to cited text no. 1
Clear J. Atomic Habits. London, UK: Penguin Random House; 2018.  Back to cited text no. 2
A Philosophical Approach to Routines Can Illuminate Who We Really Are. Available from: https://www.bigthink.com/thinking/philosophy-of-habit/. [Last accessed on 2022 Sep 17].  Back to cited text no. 3
Asokan S, Geetha Priya PR. Symptom Prescription. Available from: https://www.nature.com/articles/sj.bdj. 20130.1196. [Last accessed on 2022 Sep 19].  Back to cited text no. 4
Mathews S. Habit and Ethics. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/336047783_Habit_and_ethics. [Last accessed on 20200 Sep 19].  Back to cited text no. 5


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