Taking Charge of Your Thoughts to Live a Healthier Life

A registered dental hygienist shares mental health actions with Cloud Dentistry.
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Bethany Montoya, RDH | bethanyrdh@outlook.com

Would you believe me if I told you that your mind has the power to either heal or harm your body? Sounds a little extreme, right? We’ve reached a turning point in the health and wellness industry where a major emphasis has been placed on mental health, self-care, embracing our sensitivities, being open about our struggles, and developing a strong awareness of who and how we are as individuals. 

If you asked me five or 10 years ago what I thought about these philosophies, I might have told you that I thought they sounded a little silly. Back then, I hadn’t yet experienced a true mental health crisis of my own and had no appreciation for how seriously sick a person can feel when their mind is out of sorts. 

My first real experience with mental illness happened in August of 2016. It was triggered by a traumatic experience involving my husband, Fred, nearly losing his life from an acute, undiagnosed health issue that progressed into septic shock. He spent an entire week in the intensive care unit of our local hospital while a team of doctors worked to stabilize his condition—running a number of tests to figure out what caused this near-death experience. 

I’m happy to report that Fred is healthy and whole after having surgery to remove a section of his colon that had become perforated due to a severe form of diverticulitis, but in the months following his health scare and surgery, my mental health began to deteriorate. 

I had experienced stress many times before in my life—any dental professional who has completed a rigorous program and works in clinical care can relate—but this was different. This was a combination of depression and anxiety that kept me up at night, emotionally isolated me, and even wiped out my desire to eat. My gynecologist was alarmed to see how much weight I had lost since my last annual physical and recommended I do something to manage my mental health, but didn’t have any advice on what that something was. She, like many other healthcare professionals, had little awareness of effective solutions for mental illness outside of the pharmaceutical realm.

Eventually, I found things that helped me climb out of the abyss I had fallen into. I started listening to calm, uplifting music. This especially helped my mind to rest when I was up at night trembling with worry. I also started to cut out people, environments, and social media influences that didn’t clearly communicate positivity in my life. I started reading books that inspired and educated me in my pursuit to reclaim my mental health. I watched movies that made me laugh and warmed my heart. Lastly, I dove fully into my spiritual life, taking time to sit in the quiet and meditate on the good things I was surrounded with. 

In the weeks that followed, I slowly became myself again—the person my husband and kids knew before I became sick. Later on, I noticed that there was a common theme to all of the practices I had implemented in my journey back to mental health: They helped me to reframe my thoughts, which eventually restored my mind and overall health. 

Thought science is a real, evidence-based concept that largely affects how our brains physiologically function, which ultimately can determine whether our bodies operate in a state of health or disease. Through research, we have found that thinking positively promotes physical wellness, while negative thinking can trigger the proliferation of inflammatory biomarkers which weakens a person’s immune system and causes a variety of diseases. 

What and how we think really matters! 

Thought Science Program For Dental Professionals

If you’d like to learn more about this fascinating science and how it relates to your own health, I invite you to join me on February 9, 2023, for my virtual CE program, “Dangerous Minds: The Physiologic Power of Our Thoughts,” hosted by Cloud Dentistry. We will discuss the difference between the mind and physical brain, how negative and positive thinking affect our health, and how dental professionals can navigate their thoughts in their unique occupational environment. 

Transitioning from full-time employment to self-serve temping served as a major boost to my mental health! My personal journey is one that millions of people can relate to and I’m so grateful that I’ve come out on the other side a wiser, happier, and healthier person. My wish is for you to achieve optimum health through your thoughts, too. Are you ready?

If you are interested in signing up for my free virtual Continuing Education program hosted by Cloud Dentistry, click this link to register!



Miller MS. Negative mood signals body's immune response. Penn State University. 2018. https://www.psu.edu/news/research/story/negative-mood-signals-bodys-immune-response/


Bethany Montoya, RDH, (bethanyrdh@outlook.com) is a writer, speaker, and dental sleep medicine provider based in Fort  Worth, TX. She serves as editorial director for DentistryIQ, providing clinical oversight for their daily newsletter, Through the Loupes. She has a passion for helping other clinicians develop their careers, both inside and outside of the operatory, and offers support through mentorship and professional writing coaching. She also created and maintains Human RDH, a social media brand that offers content that appeals to the human side of dentistry: mental health, personal growth, and daily clinical life.