Bringing mind-body medicine, such as meditation and yoga, into a dental practice benefits all. When dentists and their staff are grounded, centered, and calm, they can treat patients more effectively.
Dentistry is a high-stress profession. In fact, as cited in the Journal of Dental Education, “dentists have been singled out as among the most likely [health professionals] to experience severe stress, depression, and substance abuse.” Dentistry is also physically demanding, with long hours spent bent over patients and focused on minute movements.
Meditation and yoga can help. Meditation, or mindfulness, helps calm the mind and process complex emotions, providing clarity of focus, heightening productivity, and fostering greater empathy. Yoga can counteract on-the-job wear and tear by building strength, flexibility, and balance. These benefits are well documented in many evidence-based research studies.
As an endodontist with over two decades of experience, Dr. Pastan knows the stresses that can come with practicing dentistry. She is also a longtime practitioner of yoga and meditation, and, as the first director of Mind-Body Wellness at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, she helps incorporate mindfulness into the training of the next generation of dentists. The curriculum focuses on lowering stress to improve students’ overall wellbeing, which in turn will decrease burnout and increase resilience.
She hopes to impart the same skills to veteran dental practitioners. “Less stress improves your health personally and physically,” Dr. Pastan says. “This can ultimately contribute to our ability to deliver mindful and compassionate dental care to our patients.”