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Nervous About Your Dental Appointment? Meditation May Provide Relief

Do you feel anxious when you visit the dentist? Many people do. Have you considered meditation to help ease your fears and relax during the procedure?

One 2013 study titled “Neural Correlates of Mindfulness Meditation-Related Anxiety Relief” in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience examined the effects of meditation on anxiety. The test subjects were taught to focus on breath and body sensations and to non-judgmentally evaluate distracting thoughts and emotions. The results were profound.

Psychology today reported:

“Anxiety was significantly reduced in every session that subjects meditated. Brain imaging found that meditation-related anxiety relief was associated with activation of the anterior cingulate cortex, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, and anterior insula. These areas of the brain are involved with executive function and the control of worrying. Meditation-related activation of these three regions was directly linked to anxiety relief.”

Breathing Techniques

One effective meditation technique is breathing exercises. Breathe in and out, counting each breath. Notice the texture, temperature and balance of your breath. Notice the position of your fingers at your side, the patterns you make as you gently caress your leg.

Guided Imagery

Label things simply in your mind. Rather than trying to maintain a thought free head space, place a label on certain sounds and objects. When the dentist uses a drill for instance, focus on the category “Hearing.” When he or she says, “Open wide,” focus on the category “stretching.”

Notice the glow of the light and think of the ocean or a sunset. Imagine a beautiful wooded setting, a picnic, or gentle water — any relaxing image that puts your mind at ease.

Flotation Techniques

Imagine yourself floating in the dentist chair. The numbing agent your dentist uses will help, as well nitrous oxide if you opt to use any. Feel yourself light as a feather, almost evaporating out of your body. Visualize birds flying, stars, perhaps a sailboat.

“Guided imagery is a mind–body exercise, wherein patients are taught to develop a mental image of a pleasant, tranquil experience that consciously guides their attention to achieve relaxation, thereby reducing anxiety,” Dr. Deva Priya Appukuttan, a periodontist and lecturer, explains in his research study on helping patients deal with phobias and anxieties. “There are generally three stages to guided imagery: relaxation, visualization, and positive suggestion.67 Imagery can be a pleasant place such as a beach, mountains, lake, or a safe place, and should be engaging and customized to each patient.”

Gentle Dentists in Cincinnati

At Beckham Square Family Dental, we advocate for gentle dentistry. We’re happy to help you with anything that helps put you at ease. Listen to meditative music if you’d like. Take a few minutes to meditate. Take time to practice breathing techniques if you need to. We’re happy to help. Your comfort is our priority.

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