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The secret world of teeth

Dr Henriette Macri – Etienne has passion for integrating Eastern and Western modalities of treatment and is an award winning dentist but Henriette is no ordinary dentist with a unique perspective on the industry.

Henreitte says, When I pull back the curtain to reveal, to shine a torch on the dark recesses of your mouth, reveal the secret and it’s not plaque I’m looking for, it’s not your plaque score and how well you brush your teeth.By the end of this the secret will no longer be a secret, you will know what the key ingredient is to long lasting changes in your dental health. I’m a holistic dentist practicing for the last 23 years, and my burning passion is to share with you my philosophy, my ideas about eradicating the fear pandemic in the dental world.

I see fear every day it comes in many faces, you can smell fear when it walks into a room. It’s an energy you can’t hide, the look, the taste, the feel, the smell of fear is thick and palpable. I was once that person myself as a dental student I used to psych myself to cope with the sound of the dental drill by climbing a set of stairs ten times to calm my nerves down. I now see grown men cry in the dental chair, I see fear in most patients eyes every day. I see the gripped fingers on the dental chair, the jaw muscles twitching attempting to clamp down their fears, pretending it’s not there. I imagine how dentists would feel awkward in those situations,I’ve been there myself,I understand. Within the dental fraternity statistics show that 20 percent of dentists feel uncomfortable and stressed by stressed patients. High fear and anxiety is associated with hard work poor revenue and little appreciation from the employer. We can no longer deny the traumatic effect this has on us as well, the energetic drain. Now who doesn’t feel fear at the dentist? Those who are practicing monks and those who have a healthy self-esteem self-image.

Why monks, because true to the Buddhist way of life, monks practice equanimity the art of observing, witnessing physiological sensations in a neutral manner, no charge. A sensation is just a sensation without an interpretation pain doesn’t exist. Pain is the mental interpretation of physical sensations in the body most of us are less practiced meditators, find it difficult not to enter a panic state when we feel a prickly sharp sudden sensation. One can, however, be at peace equanimous with difficult physiological sensations in the body as a practiced monk but the rest of us, this brings me to the next question. Why and how does your self-image affect fear?It is because we cannot rise above our own self-image. We cannot go beyond the story we tell ourselves about our fears, about ourselves, about what it’s like to go to the dentist for us. In our own skin, our own shaking boots. What is, I ask you, the story you tell yourselfwhen you’re about to go to the dentist? About to meet disapproval and perhaps betreated insensitively?And what about previous medical trauma, our stacked up fears, stacked up traumas, our unique threshold for discomfort?

How do we go from pain to peace to joy? I’ll come back to that in a moment. As a young person myself,I used to suffer from dental phobia so I know when I look into the face of fear,I see myself as if I’m looking in the mirror at a younger self.Research shows that 60 percent of patients feel dental anxiety, fear. Top four reasons for fearing the dentist, being fear of rejection, shame, embarrassment, pain. Who doesn’t suffer from self-image, self-worth, fear of being rejected challenges, at some point in life? I certainly did many times. I remember thinking I didn’t deserve to have a nice smile or that if people knew that I was missing a tooth they would suddenly love me less.

As a dentist I come alive when I look into the face of fear, it is my moment to bring forth my best version of myself.To meet the patient in their worst moment. I lean into my best self, my empathy and compassion to help another human being transcend their fear.As dentists this is what we were born to do, be the solution to the fear in front of us.The gift to others that gives to us also as dentists as human beings. As a practicing Buddhist what I do is helping others transcend fear.It is a small gift to humanity bringing witnessing, awareness, and presence to any fearful situation. And as a lifelong learner and a mentor for others I must say I struggle to teach young dentists empathy and compassion. If anyone’s listening to this talk and would like to collaborate on this task, I would love your feedback.

Please get in touch with me. I would love to pass on this value-led approach to dentistry. How to bring in spiritual values of compassion and empathy as part of the teaching curriculum. What are the ways we can overcome fear, transcend our self-limiting beliefs. Order suggestions and affirmations are a widely accepted method known to instil self-belief and faith in oneself.As some of you might have read Napoleon Hill book. Also hypnosis, meditation, connection with emotional and spiritual well-being. What about self-care and our self-talk and how does this affect our teeth?Do you brush your teeth with love? We’re familiar with cooking with love and the flow and effects, but what about the simple mindful practice of being present while brushing teeth? This will determine what we later put into our mouths, how well we chew food, how well we digest and absorb the nutrients, whether we end up flossingwhen it’s late at night and we really don’t feel like it. The average person spends 96 seconds under two minutes brushing. The rush to brush generation is here.Never mind being present nine out of ten don’t brush their teeth enough.How does brushing mindfully look like?Connected breathing, light deep slow breathing. Sharpening the senses, what am I hearing tasting feeling?Acknowledging the good things that have happened that day, end the day with gratitude what am I grateful for and why?Feeling your feet touching the ground, finding a positive affirmation to reinforce while brushing. I love my teeth, I take good care of my teeth I’m looking forward to my next visit to the dentist.

Along the vein of the famous book Psycho Cybernetics by plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz, I would say how we view ourselves determines whether what we do, aspractitioners, will last. I’ve seen similar to plastic surgery amazing dental transformations only to find that six to 12 months later, person is back to where they started, decay self-neglect dental problems.Having achieved perfect teeth, congratulations, but this is only the beginning.It’s the first day of forever inself-care. Most of you hearing this will be familiar with Amy Cuddys’s fake it till you make it.Whether you agree or disagree, change has to start from the inside. One self-image self-worth, determined self-care level of responsibility we take for ourselves, it takes two to tango as they say. Care about your teeth, care about self-image, care about life. It starts with your teeth but it’s a journey of inner transformation a journey of self-worth, not just confidence or faking it till you make it but making inner lasting changes.

A small change on the inside is worth millions on the outside and it leads to lasting results. And for my dentist friends, do you love your patients enough?Do you have tools to change their lives, not just their mouths?Do you care about them enough?Do you come from a place of love, deep presence? I challenge you to include in your toolkit some inner transformational tools, so that patients can benefit from your incredible power to transform lives, literally one smile at a time one heart at a time. So that they may be able to bravely rise above their own self-image.

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