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Meditation for Dental Anxiety

Meditation for Dental Anxiety
Meditation for Dental Anxiety

It may sound a little odd putting the words ‘meditation’,‘mindfulness’ and ‘dentistry’ in the same sentence, but studies show thatmeditation can help patients with dental anxiety.

We give a lot of tips to our patients on stress reduction and how to reduce anxiety when it comes to visiting the dentist, so we thought we’d share some advice on how to help you keep calm at your appointment.

So, what is meditation?

Meditation is using a technique to train awareness orconsciousness. It helps to focus the mind. We spend so much of our day in ourminds, attaching to thoughts, most of which are repetitive. Often going oversomething that happened in the past or may happen in the future. Meditationhelps to keep us in the present.

How does meditation help?

For most people living in a busy city, the body’ssympathetic nervous system is constantly activated. The sympathetic nervoussystem is there to protect us with the “fight or flight” response.  However, with it constantly activated we arealways in a low level of stress.  Meditationhelps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This helps to relax thebody. This leads to a reduction in stress levels.

How do I meditate?

Meditation can be practised in many different ways, bothwith the eyes open and closed. You can focus the mind on:

  • An object such as a chair or a spot on the wallin front of you
  • An activity such as the movement of the breathgoing in and out
  • A word, mantra or sound

There are many apps that can help you get started. As well as this, there are many courses which has the benefit of a teacher who can help you if you encounter difficulties.

Helpful Apps

Why not try downloading a mindfulness app to get you started. You'll find that there are plenty out there to choose from, but we recommend app such as Calm or Headspace. Our dentist James Goolnik has kindly shared his link to a FREE trial, which can be found here:

There is a free app called Insight timer that has lots of guided meditations and talks led by the world's top meditation and mindfulness experts, neuroscientists, psychologists and teachers.

The important thing to remember is that it takes time to learn the art of meditation. Just as planning to run a marathon will take months of training! Take the time to try one technique, ideally 6-8 weeks and if does not work then try another. If you would like to know more please contact James Goolnik or Sameena Choudhry.

Breathing techniques

If you find that a mindfulness app isn’t helping you assuch, it might be worth focusing solely on your breathing. Reduce your stressresponse by learning some easy breathing techniques, which you can take intoyour appointment with you. Deep breaths in and even longer breaths out can helplet go of any tension in the body. Relax your shoulders and unclench your jawwhilst breathing and you’ll be able to notice a big difference. There areplenty of helpful breathing techniques on YouTube which will help you too.

On the way to your appointment

If you can, close your eyes and meditate on your commute.This will regulate your breathing and heartbeat and give you a calm sense of being. If you can not close your eyes focus on a spot with your eyes open. Interesting on the underground at rush hour!

At the dentist

Time to put your meditation and breathing techniques into action. Sitting in the waiting area of a dental practice can be seen as the most daunting part of the appointment, especially if you suffer from dental anxiety.

Get comfortable and relax into the chair. Let the weight of your body sink into the chair and keep your muscles as loose as possible. If you don’t want to close your eyes, find a spot in the room where you can soften your gaze. Avoid looking at televisions or bright lights.

A technique we love is taking a deep breath in for fourseconds, then exhaling for eight. Concentrate on letting your breath out very,very slowly and as gently as possible. Repeat this as many times as you need.

Grounding is another technique that may help you keep calmwhilst waiting at the reception area. We recommend trying the 5-4-3-2-1technique. Once seated in the waiting area, name the following:

•  Five things you can see

•  Four things you can feel

•  Three things you can hear

•  Two things you can smell

•  One thing you can taste

This technique will also be useful if you need to feelgrounded once you’re in a comfortable dentist chair.

Teeth clenching and grinding

Studies have shown that mediation and mindfulness help reduce clenching of your jaws during the day and also offers deep and more relaxed sleep, reducing grinding (bruxism) at night.

We would love to help you achieve a healthy mouth and make your dental visits as relaxed and comfortable as possible.  
Please speak to the Bow Lane team for more information

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