My path from fear to joy in the dentist’s chair took many small steps. It certainly was aided by advancements in dentistry. I was not too fond of dental visits because I had a mouth full of cavities as a child. While city kids received fluoride in their drinking water, country kids like me didn’t. That’s my excuse. The reality of choices early in life is they can have consequences as we age.
From Fear to Joy in the Dentist’s Chair
I assembled all my dental paraphernalia to illustrate I take my dental health seriously. And also, I want to introduce a habit I’ve developed over the last year that makes my dental visits an absolute joy.
Most recently, I had two visits in seven calendar days. They were scaling and root deep cleaning to remove the tarter and bacteria that love to lurk at the gum line. Convention expects numerous injections to numb the entire area to effectively and quickly release the damaging plaque.
As a result of the meditation I use daily, my persona has transformed from a hurried doer to a calmer appreciator of rest. For example, I begin slow, shallow breathing after the hygienist numbs my gums with a topical. Then it returns to regular breathing, except I slowly extend my out-breath.
When the dentist tells me, “This is going to pinch,” I’m in the middle of a slow, steady out-breath. I don’t flinch, groan, or react to any injections throughout the procedure to numb half my mouth. That is one whole side, up and down. The slow breathing puts me in such a calm state, and I’m perfectly still. Fear is a distant memory.
I can honestly say during the first procedure; I never felt pain. Never.
Conversely, I felt pain radiating out my tongue toward the tip during the first injection at the second procedure. Yet, I didn’t perceive this as painful or upsetting. Why? Because I know the sensation will be short. After all, the purpose is to numb the area.
My Dentist’s Reaction
As I’m in this euphoric, meditative state, I seem to know what the dentist or hygienist needs me to do. So it took a few seconds before I realized the dentist was talking to me about my demeanor.
“I’ve never had a patient as calm as you during the numbing process. And I don’t like being on the receiving end, either. So how do you do it?”
I explained my slow breathing strategy.
“So you breathe deeply in and then slowly out,” she said.
“Not exactly. It’s more of a continuously shallow, slow breath.”
As the dentist and hygienist continue their animated banter, I drift into my peaceful, dreamlike state.
Parting Thoughts and Suggestions
It’s hard not to laugh a little and think how much they reminded me of myself when I was in the constantly doing mode. And that’s another helpful mindset in the dentist’s chair. It’s your mind, and you can take yourself somewhere else anytime you desire. Don’t worry. When they need you to move, they’ll let you know.
As a child, I was not too fond of dental appointments for a simple reason. I was stuck in the past, anticipating a repeat of an uncomfortable experience. However, if you can move your thought patterns from the past, where the source of fear exists, to the present, it’s simple to be in the peaceful, easy feeling of now.
The next time you walk into the room with the dentist’s chair, take a moment to look at the chair. When sitting in it, close your eyes, lean back, and feel the comfort of a perfectly designed piece of furniture. Then, take a deep breath and sink deeper into the luxury of the dentist’s chair. You have begun your journey from fear to joy in the dentist’s chair.