The other day, I had someone call my office because their child was so afraid of going to the dentist that it had become unmanageable. Most people don’t like going to the dentist. In the extreme dental phobia, they are so scared that they never go and put their health in danger.
The use of relaxation during a dental procedure can be accomplished through self-hypnosis. First let’s understand something about the subject of pain. The purpose of pain is to get one`s attention; in fact, 80 to 90 percent of pain is actually the brain amplifying the signal. Once the attention is focused away from the cause, the amplification is no longer necessary and the pain decreases. Understanding this can assist you in helping yourself have a more relaxing dental experience.
It is known that people who meditate are able to control pain and discomfort 70 to 80 percent better than those who do not . I recommend practicing these techniques before the trip to the dentist as a way to train the brain. Some people get so good at this that they have had extractions (even wisdom teeth) without the aid of medication.
Here are 5 basic techniques that you can quickly and easily teach yourself:
(1) Gazing – Select a small object in the room and stare at it. Keep your eyes soft and just notice it. This is a something we did naturally as children. The more you practice this the more your brain learns how to do this. You can let the object go in or out of focus or look beyond the object.
(2) Breath-counting meditation – Have your clients count each exhale. Tell them that if their mind wanders, just begin again starting at the beginning number.. The object is not to see how many breaths you can count, but to keep the mind focused on something other than the procedure. I used this method once when the Xylocaine local anesthetic was wearing off and I had to take my mind off of the suturing.
(3) Mantra repetition – Instruct your client to repeat a healing phrase, such as “I am relaxed and feeling fine. Every moment feeling better and better” to themselves. This has the added benefit of increasing your natural healing ability.
(4) There is another technique called “Feeling Focusing.” that was created to help children deal with fear. (This can be used with adults also) The child locates where the anxiety in their body. Then you tell them to breathe deeply and to keep their attention focused on that spot. Again, if their minds wander, simply instruct them to bring their attention back to the spot where the anxiety is. If the feeling moves, have them follow it. The anxiety will begin to fade and disappear. Simply remind them to focus their attention on the feeling every minute (or how often you need to) and to continue to breathe deeply.
(5) Go to a safe place, real or imagined, and take in all aspects of that place. See what you would see, hear what you would hear, feel what you would feel and smell what you would smell. Allow you image to be a vivid as possible. I used the dentists light shining down on me as the sun in Hawaii. You can even bring along some Hawaii music on your iPhone or other MP3 device to make this imagery more real