Is hypnosis used in dentistry?

Hypnotherapy has earned respect within the dental community. In fact the University of Southern California School of Dentistry offers a course in hypnotherapy. Dental anxiety can be eased through the use of suggestion and relaxation techniques. By accessing the subconscious mind, hypnotherapy can also help some patients to control pain, reduce salivation, control bleeding and gagging, and stop teeth grinding, and may aid with breathing problems.
Hypnosis has been documented for therapeutic use in dental practice for nearly 50 years. An effective means of patient management when properly used, hypnosis can be used to control a broad variety of psychological and physiological responses including patient anxiety, body tension, mouth opening, tongue movements, salivation, jaw spasm, nausea, anesthesia and hemostasis (control of bleeding).

Considered an altered state of consciousness, between sleep and waking, hypnosis can create a psychological state of high suceptibility to suggestion. Introduced by British physician, James Braid, in the early 19th century, hypnosis was originally believed to be a sleep state and named for Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep. However, EEG studies show brain waves of the person in the hypnotic state to be distinctly different from sleep and waking. 

It is important that deeper hypnotic states are administered by an experienced hypnotherapist. However, self hypnosis techniques have been shown to induce a relaxed state for the patient who has severe dental phobia through the use of calming instructions and the repetitiion of positive statements. A variety of instructional and meditative CD's/mp3's exist to accomplish this. My favorite is "The Tooth Fairy Speaks, The Dentist Appointment You Can Love" by Eve Eliot and available online.
Hypnosis is a valuable tool used in dental treatment in order to make treatment more comfortable and to enhance the healing and recovery phase of care.

The use of hypnosis depends on the skill, training and judgment of the dental professional along with the particular needs and desires of the patient. It can be very beneficial depending upon the doctor-patient relationship. For hypnosis to be of maximum benefit an atmosphere of high trust and reasonable expectation needs to be present.
Some dentists use hypnosis to reduce the pain and anxiety patients may experience while undergoing longer or more complicated procedures such as tooth extractions. Hypnosis, also known as hypnotherapy, is a technique that helps people focus their thoughts and achieve a calm, trance-like state. Studies have shown that people who undergo hypnosis during dental procedures require less pain medication and feel less discomfort than patients who are not hypnotized.  
Hypnosis is used in dentistry, though it is rare to find a practitioner who does a lot of it. I used to do it and stopped because it just took too long and I wasn't doing enough of it to stay current. It can be a very effective technique.

Most dentists who are concerned about pain management use the principles of hypnosis all the time. For instance, it is common to use focused distraction during local anesthetic delivery. It is also common to use suggestion during many aspects of care.
Hypnosis has been around for centuries and many religious rituals send the participant into a hypnotic state. Some dental schools expose their students to the art of hypnosis but most do not.

Hypnosis is a focused form of concentration that can mimic sleep but the subject is not sleeping. They also will only listen and do what is safe and does not contradict their beliefs. With that said how does a dentist use hypnosis. Hypnosis is a form of basic communication. With the use of calming words the dentist will help the patient start to relax. This first step is known as progressive relaxation. Once relaxed the dentist will often have the patient imagine a different place other than the office. He or she then explains that many of the sounds you hear allow you to relax even more and go deeper into a state of complete relaxation. Very often the dentist will transfer the association of the sound of the drill to become a soothing sound. You can create a feeling of numbness by suggesting your fingers are falling asleep and going numb. You then transfer that numb or sleeping feeling to the lip or the area to be treated.

Many patients practice self-hypnosis so a dentist trained in hypnosis can easily work with this patient to control pain and other sensations. It takes practice and the more often a patient is hypnotized for anything the easier and faster it is to go under. I have formal training in hypnosis and use it daily as an adjunct to my local anesthetics, sedatives and pain medications.

More dentists need to be trained to use this valuable tool.
Hypnosis is a valuable adjunct to help anxious patients relax. By using a calm tone of voice, and using the proper verbiage, a patient can visualize themselves in another space where they are more comfortable.

Hypnosis was something that was tried 20-30 years ago to help some patients overcome their fear of the dentist. I have not heard much about it being used recently, and I do not use hypnosis in my practice where I specialize in treating patients with dental fears. Painless techniques, empathy, and good communication will be effective in treating almost all patients with dental phobias. See also:

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