Why does David Landwehr, D.D.S., M.S., believe you need to reset and reboot every day?
Dr. Landwehr has more than 20 years of experience as a clinician, consultant, and educator in the endodontic realm. In this episode, we joined him for a double espresso as we talked about how he’s successfully built his career — and his best life.
Join us as we discuss:
- Changing career paths
- Why having a passion, hobby, or outside interest elevates you as a clinician
- Small daily rituals that deeply impact the quality of life
- Why having a network is so important
Ready to go behind the scenes with one of the country’s top endodontists? Keep reading or jump to listen to the podcast.
“Find something you’re passionate about that elevates you, that takes you away from the daily grind in order to reboot and reset.” — David Landwehr
David knows how important self-care is these days, especially for medical professionals. A work-life balance is crucial to maintaining both your sanity and your professional skills.
He jokes that “endo never sleeps,” and the daily grind can quickly become overwhelming. That’s why he likes to treat himself to a decadent espresso at the end of a busy day.
A Wisconsin native, David is a top-tier private practitioner who provides extraordinary care to his patients as an endodontist and oral pathologist. He’s also a sought-after international speaker and the author of numerous medical journal articles. He strives to help his peers become better clinicians. “What drives me is being able to give back to dental as a whole,” he states.
Many in the field will recognize this situation: you’re at asocial event and someone asks you what you do. David jokes that he faces amoral dilemma every time. If he’s honest and says, “I do root canals all day,” then he’s subjected to a tirade loaded with vitriol and wrong information.
“I want to change that mentality in our population.” He’s dedicated to ensuring a pain-free procedure with a positive biological outcome.
Nobody wants a root canal. It’s scary and associated with extreme discomfort. People hate going to the dentist. This perception clouds the fact that “dentists are fabulous people,” according to David, and good dental health has a huge impact on your overall well-being.
He believes that “endodontics is one of the most selfless service-oriented patient care fields.” You’re meeting the patient for the first time under terrible circumstances. People in excruciating pain aren’t usually on their best behavior.
David feels that it’s vital to establish a rapport right away to deliver the best possible patient experience.
“We can all find a way to do a little bit each day, everyday, to be a better human.” — David Landwehr
Mental and emotional drain
David knows of at least two endodontists who walked out of their offices one day and simply never came back. “They had crossed a line in the sand.”
He deeply appreciates that this is a calling with great physical and mental challenges. Facing people day after day that loathe you before they’ve even met you, due to the stigma associated with dental procedures and oral surgery, can take a heavy toll.
And “sometimes the biology is impossible to deal with,” David admits. He promises that “I'm going to do my absolute best for every patient with the understanding that it is really hard and that we're not always going to see the healing that we're looking for.”
That can be a difficult thing to come to terms with — unless you have a passion for the work.
A unique perspective
Certified in both endodontics (University of Michigan) and oral and maxillofacial pathology, (Ohio State), David has a highly unusual blend of diagnostic skills. His early and accurate diagnoses lead to drastically improved prognoses for his patients.
He’s a teacher at heart and encourages his peers to reach out for his expertise any time they need it. Many clinicians have little familiarity with the pathologies David has witnessed.
“Build a network. There is so much to learn from your colleagues.” — David Landwehr
The marathon mentality
As an Ironman triathlete, David knows exactly what it’s like to train hard to reach your goals. Having a positive mindset and exploring your passions “can push you forward and elevate you as a human.”
Enjoying the outdoors, listening to music, and going to baseball games are all forms of self-care that he appreciates. He emphasizes how important it is for clinicians to take care of themselves mentally and physically.
David has a long-game mindset, preferring marathon thinking over that of a sprinter. Taking a manageable number of cases each day allows him to hit the perfect work-life balance and be available to meet his family’s needs.
While he’s “burned the candle at both ends,” David now realizes the importance (and enjoyment) of a good night’s sleep. He gets an “embarrassing” amount of shut-eye. As both a scientist and an athlete, he loves data, and a sleep tracker helped him vastly improve his sleep hygiene.
Endodontics is especially tough on your neck and shoulders. Repetitive motions in a cramped space can lead to crippling backaches. David does yoga regularly to combat these issues.
He practices the Japanese art of kaizen — continuous improvement.
It’s also vital to be part of a supportive ecosystem. Friends and colleagues can provide critical opportunities to learn and grow. David is truly grateful for the people who have mentored him throughout his fascinating career.