What are some of the relaxation techniques? | Dental Treatment Guide

When you are stressed scared by visiting the dentist this can cause your body to release adrenaline. This chemical produces a physical response in the body as the muscles become taut your breathing rate increases. You can help to reduce the levels of stress you feel by practising relaxation techniques which help to lower your anxiety levels and decrease your perception of pain.

Relaxation techniques

Guided imagery:

This is a method of relaxation where you imagine something pleasurable and calming and pretend that you are in an environment where you feel secure rather than the dentist's surgery. You should try to produce as vivid an image as possible and focus on this entirely so that you begin to feel more relaxed. The purpose is to become so absorbed in this relaxing image that you become desensitised to the dentist and what is going on around you.

Deep breathing:

In this relaxation technique the purpose is to breathe slowly and deeply, taking in as oxygen as possible which helps to relax the central nervous system. This will help to make you feel calmer and by focusing on the breathing technique you become distracted from worrying about the dentist.

Progressive relaxation:

This is a way of relaxing each individual in the body. Starting from the base of your body with the toes you should tense all the muscles until you reach the head. Then the idea is to release the tension in the muscles and go completely loose and relaxed. This will make you feel less tense and stressed.

What is sedation?

Sedation helps to relax the body and make you feel less stressed, though it is important to remember it is not a solution to pain. It is possible that sedatives can cause drowsiness as they tend to induce sleep so after taking sedatives you should avoid strenuous work or operating machinery.

What is hypnosis?

This is technique induces a deep state of relaxation that can help people to cope with stressful situations. Having sought advice from a professional you might be able to practise self hypnosis which is a similar technique to meditation. This can be a very effective technique for self relaxation and dealing with objects or situations of fear. However, it is recommended that for the best results you initially work with a professional hypnotherapist.

What is acupuncture and acupressure?

Acupuncture originates from ancient China and is a popular relaxation technique that involves the insertion of fine needles into specific areas of the body that relate to pain relief. These areas of pressure are known as acupoints. By putting needles into these acupoints this stimulates the body to release endorphins which increase pain relief. Acupressure is a similar technique to acupuncture but instead of inserting needles it involves exerting pressure onto these areas.

What are support groups?

Support groups help people to cope with their anxieties and phobias about particular situations, objects and experiences. People can use these groups for emotional support and can learn about techniques that they can use to cope with the stress. Support groups will operate in your local area and you should be able to find about these online or at you loca medical surgery.

What is therapy?

If you have a severe dental phobia that is starting to disrupt your life and particularly your health then it is advised that you consider arranging some professional therapy to help you overcome this. Systematic desensitisation is one technique that can be used to help decrease the phobia. This involves gradual exposure to the object or situation of fear in an environment where the person feels more comfortable and secure. Over a period of time the exposure becomes more extensive until the individual is able to deal with the phobia and it no longer causes stress and fear. Cognitive therapy and psychotherapy are other types of therapy which can also help to combat phobias. Cognitive therapy works by changing the way in which people think about their phobias and helps to correct it so that their thought processes become more rational. Psychotherapy is an alternative therapy and this focuses on understanding of the origins of phobia and dealing with the problems that are associated with this. There are dentophobia clinics which focus on treating people who have a severe fear of the dentist. Information about these can be found online or from your dentist.

Further Information about Dental Distress