Afraid Of The Dentist? Try Hypnosis

Posted on: 29 June 2015

Many people approach their routine dental visits with some degree of trepidation, but some are truly terrified of the experience no matter how gentle and pleasant their dentist is.  Really nervous patients welcome sedation for a simple check-up, and even undergo general anaesthesia for a routine filling. 

Now some dentists are trying a new approach to help fearful patients: clinical hypnosis.  So, what does this entail and can it work for you?

What is clinical hypnosis?

First of all, it's important to emphasise that clinical hypnosis is not related in any way to the stage shows you've seen.  You will not be placed into a deep sleep and wake up remembering nothing about what happened while you were in the dentist's chair. 

Hypnosis is used to place the patient into an altered state of consciousness which enables deep relaxation.  You will always be in complete control of your body and mind, regardless of how effective the hypnosis is.  For dental procedures, a light or medium state of trance is easily achieved with most patients and is sufficient for most people's needs. 

The idea of hypnotherapy is to relax patients sufficiently to allow routine procedures to be carried out without the need for sedation.  Hypnosis can be used to prepare patients for dental X-rays or impression-taking without the risk of gagging or sickness, and it also can help improve tolerance of wearing orthodontic appliances during treatment.  Some patients also find hypnosis effective as a form of mild pain relief. 

Hypnotherapists must be qualified to carry out clinical hypnosis.  Your dentist will have a certification for this technique if he or she has attended and successfully passed the relevant training courses.

How does hypnosis happen?

The primary approach to clinical hypnotherapy uses a combination of techniques.  You'll be seated comfortably in the reclined dentist's chair.  There may be quiet, relaxing music playing in the background.  You will be asked to close your eyes, concentrate on the dentist's voice and nothing else.

The trance state is induced using positive language, mental distractions and relaxation techniques.  For example, your dentist might ask you to visualise yourself walking along a peaceful woodland path on a warm, sunny day; what can you hear, see and smell as you walk?  How relaxing does the warm, summer air feel against your skin?  Listen to the soporific drone of insects as you sit beneath a shady tree and close your eyes.  As you begin to relax, your dentist will encourage you into a deeper state of relaxation and trance state.  Your treatment will then begin.

Remember that you can stop proceedings at any time you wish, and you will be in complete control of your body and mind throughout the session.

Will hypnosis work for everybody?

Not everyone can be helped by clinical hypnotherapy.  Some patients are just too frightened to allow themselves to relax and others are very cynical about the technique.  You need to have an open mind if hypnosis is to work for you, and be prepared to give it a try. 

If you aren't comfortable with the idea of hypnotherapy, there are other ways dentists help patients relax for procedures. Contact a dentist with a practice like Semaphore Dental to learn more about handling dental visits with relaxation.