Fear of dentists is a universal phenomenon. Some people can feel so anxious about dental surgery that they avoid going for regular check-ups. While pharmacological sedation offers a temporary respite, it does not help with the underlying phobia and anxiety. Hypnosis, on the other hand, is a powerful drug-free alternative that provides not only sedation but also full patient cooperation and psychological comfort. Unfortunately, hypnosis is still underused in dentistry.
The Art and Science of Hypnosis in Dentistry
Hypnodontics, the application of hypnosis in dentistry, has a lot of potential for patients. Like any medical hypnosis, it requires some preparation and skill. As you can imagine, it’s not enough to just say to a patient to relax and feel comfortable while loading your syringe.
A clinician with training in hypnosis needs first to initiate a trance state in a patient’s mind, which is known as hypnotic induction. Dentists familiar with hypnosis will often use hypnotic language, which avoids negative suggestions, such as “don’t worry, this won’t hurt.” In my experience with my clients, a statement like that only makes you feel more tense and nervous.
Instead, hypnotic language is positive and more soothing. For example, a dentist might say: “I have some good news for you. I can show you how to achieve a healthy mouth”. This will probably make you feel a lot calmer than if the dentist just showed you all the plaque you have missed and made you feel worried about periodontal disease.
The Benefits of Dental Hypnotherapy
When done correctly, hypnosis can:
- help achieve excellent sedation;
- reduce the stress associated with a trip to the dentist;
- reduce the doses of sedatives and pain killers when these are needed;
- provide treatment of dental anxiety and phobia;
- help those with a severe gag reflex;
- reduce pain and swelling after the surgery;
- help maintain comfort during extended periods of dental work.
Dental hypnotherapy can also help you improve your dental hygiene and some habits related to oral health. For instance, teeth grinding and/or clenching (also known as bruxism) can be very frustrating and can damage your teeth. Usually, a dentist would prescribe a dental night guard. The guard, however, doesn’t prevent you from grinding your teeth while you sleep; it’s just a buffer. Some dentists, therefore, suggest combining a night guard with some hypnotherapy to work with your unconscious and change automatic undesired behaviors. Many patients report a reduction in grinding, and some, eventually stop with the unwanted behavior. It’s definitely an excellent way to protect your investment in dental work, don’t you think?
Do You Have Difficulty Accepting the Concept of Hypnosis?
If you believe, you’ve never been in a trance state before, you might be surprised to know that you probably enter it every day without even realizing. For instance, when you daydream. Or, when you drive a familiar route, and you get to your destination without even being conscious of how you got there. In other words, a hypnotic trance is nothing mystical or dangerous. It happens naturally. In fact, it can help you make certain experiences more pleasant. For instance, your visit to the dentist.
However, it’s essential that hypnosis is done properly by a trained clinician. Otherwise, it will only result in a lack of trust. The hypnotherapist should ask for your informed consent before using hypnosis. If you feel reluctant, you should share this. Hypnosis can give great results in dental practice, but the patients need to be chosen carefully to achieve the best results.
In short, hypnosis can help you receive better dental care and avoid higher dental bills in the future. With a little help from the subconscious, you can get a smile you’ll be proud of.
At Medvesta Hypnosis, we offer a free screening for you to see if hypnosis is right for you. Schedule a Free Screening today!
Facco, E., Zanette, G., & Casiglia, E. (2014). The role of hypnotherapy in dentistry. SAAD Digest, 30, 3–6.
Hill, K. B., Hainsworth, J. M., Burke, F. J. T., & Fairbrother, K. J. (2008). Evaluation of dentists’ perceived needs regarding treatment of the anxious patient. British Dental Journal, 204(8), E13.