Make mindfulness a part of your everyday life.
At Bentz Dental Implants, we do everything we can to make your visits to our office as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. Still, we know that some patients may experience anxiety around the idea of receiving any form of dental treatment. We understand these concerns and want to help address and mitigate them.
While we offer several approaches to help reduce dental anxiety, there’s one method you can start practicing right at home: mindfulness. Today, we’re taking a closer look at how mindfulness works and the ways you can harness it to ease your nerves before your appointment.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a type of meditation that encourages you to focus intently on the sensations that you’re feeling in the moment. In short, it’s a practice that puts you fully in the present and in tune with your inner being rather than reactive to what’s going on around you.
While that sounds easy enough to accomplish, the reality is the second we sit down and close our eyes, our minds tend to ramble in a million different directions. If you’re in the throes of dental anxiety, your thoughts may fixate on your upcoming appointment.
Rather than judging those mental diversions, mindfulness allows those thoughts to gently enter then fade away. As you become more in tune with your internal rhythm, you’ll find it easier to turn inward and focus only on the moment.
The Keys to Mindfulness Meditation
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to set up a designated Zen zone in your home to practice mindfulness meditation. In fact, you can try mindfulness exercises almost anywhere!
This can be a seated, standing, walking, or moving meditation. However, if you’re just starting out, you may find it easier to drown out the world in a spot that’s quiet and comfortable.
There are several techniques you can try, but the most important aspect to understand is your posture. Your sitting surface should be stable and solid and allow you to sit up straight without leaning back. Allow your spine to assume its natural curvature, and let the bottoms of your feet touch the floor. If you’re sitting on the floor, cross your legs comfortably in front of you. Then, gently allow your hands to rest on the tops of your legs. Drop your chin slightly and let your gaze fall downward. You don’t have to close your eyes fully, but you can if you find it comfortable.
Once you’re in a relaxed position, you can start focusing on your breath. Rather than forcing yourself into an unnatural inhale/exhale pattern, simply allow your breath to flow naturally. This is called “following your breath” and is a tenet of many forms of meditation.
As it does, pay close attention to the way it makes your body feel. When you narrow your focus to this one point, you’ll find that peripheral thoughts and external stressors will slowly fade. Inevitably, however, your mind will begin to veer in different directions. When this happens, allow the thought to enter, then come back to your breath. It will ebb and flow like this for a while. You’ll start at your breath, go away for a while, and come back to it.
This is all a natural and expected process and one to embrace. The goal isn’t to suppress your dental anxiety or any other mental burden. Rather, you’re just trying to ease the pressure on your mind by focusing more on what you can control (your breath) over what you cannot.
MBSR: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
The application of mindfulness as a treatment tool for anxiety and unease is known as MBSR. This stands for mindfulness-based stress reduction. Any time you feel a wave of anxiety, you can remember your mindfulness practice and use it to help control and soothe your racing mind. This is a natural, effective form of stress relief that not only improves your mental health but can also benefit your physical well-being too.
A few of the many health benefits of MBSR include:
- Chronic pain relief
- Improved sleep
- Cognitive improvements
- Reduced stress levels
How can Bentz Dental help?
While mindfulness is largely an individual practice, there are other forms of stress relief that are more collaborative in nature. At Bentz Dental, we’re your partner in managing dental anxiety, and we offer resources to help.
These all center around different levels of sedation dentistry, which can help you relax before and during your dental treatment. In addition to those suffering from dental anxiety, sedation dentistry can also help patients who:
- Find it difficult to sit still for extended periods of time
- Have a hard time becoming (and staying) numb from anesthetics
Our team is licensed by the American Dental Association and closely follows all legal and regulatory requirements for sedation dentistry. The three sedative states we can administer include mild, moderate, and deep sedation.
Mild sedation, or anxiolysis, is the lightest form of sedation dentistry. Usually administered orally, it’s recommended for patients with light dental anxiety or ones who are undergoing longer or more complex procedures. In this state, you will remain awake during the entire procedure and can breathe on your own. However, you will feel sleepy and relaxed.
Moderate sedation, or conscious sedation, is best suited for patients with moderate dental anxiety. Similar to mild sedation, it allows you to remain awake for the procedure. Though you will be conscious, you will be in a deep state of relaxation. For this reason, the effects can take a while to wear off, so we recommend bringing a friend or relative to drive you home from your appointment.
Even if your dentist recommends deep sedation, you’ll still be conscious part of the time.
As you move between consciousness and unconsciousness, you may have little to no recollection of the procedure. Again, it’s best to have someone accompany you for your after-visit care.
If you have mild to moderate dental anxiety, your dentist will likely use nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, as an inhaled sedative. We also offer oral sedation in the form of a prescription pill. You’ll take the pill one hour before your appointment so you’re fully relaxed when you arrive.
We can help reduce your dental anxiety!
If you want to reduce dental anxiety, you already have one powerful tool that can help keep it at bay: your mind. Through practicing mindfulness meditation, you can ease your thoughts in a new, restorative direction. In addition to leveraging this mental superpower, you can also call on our dental team to make your experience stress-free.
Through our different levels of sedation dentistry, we can help you sit back, relax, and enjoy your time in the dentist’s chair. Together, we can make your appointment comfortable and pleasant. For more information on our services, feel free to contact us.