Hypnosis could be the answer!
Hypnodontia - the use of hypnosis in dentistry - was first documented in 1829 and used to facilitate a tooth extraction.
Within dentistry, hypnosis has both therapeutic and operative uses. Therapeutically, uses include dental phobia and anxiety, gag reflex, pain, adaption to dentures, and behaviour modification such as thumb sucking.
Operative use is primarily for hypnosis in addition to analgesia. Hypnosis transforms mental states and improves cognition, changes pain perception, manages stress; and modulates bodily reactions (heat rate, blood pressure changes and gag reflex)*
Hypnosis plus local anaesthesia delivers effective sedation, improving patient wellbeing and helping to relax the patient. In a study of hypnosis for teeth, ‘hypnotic-focused analgesia’ increased pain thresholds by up to 220%, with patients able to undergo surgery with hypnosis as the sole anaesthesia **.
Controlling fear and anxiety is one of the largest uses of clinical hypnosis, which is strongly associated with dentistry.
Dental anxiety is surprisingly common and can range from a mild sense of unease to acute episodes of anxiety and panic attacks. In fact, dentophobia (also called odontophobia, dental phobia and dental anxiety) can affect up to 12% of the population, and over 25% of people suffer some sort of anxiety before going to see their dental health professional.
While a general dislike of visiting the dentist or a sense of fear when anticipating a certain procedure is reasonable. However, it is when these feelings become excessive that they can become problematic.
They may been triggered by a painful and frightening dentist visit as a child or young adult. Those who’ve had braces or wisdom teeth removed as a teenager would understand. You may have heard horror stories from others, or have an aversion to the clinical environment of the surgery; the bright lights and chemical smells. You may have a fear of injections or the sound of the drill, or even an oversensitive gag reflex.
The key consequence of the anxiety is avoidance which can lead to dental and oral health problems building up as a result of missing regular check-ups. Even a low-level generalised anxiety might be strong enough to prevent someone from seeking treatment which will lead to long-term health issues. If you are afraid of something, the most common, and natural, reaction is to stay away from it!
Sufferers can exhibit a large amount of negative ‘self-talk’ in relation to visiting the dentist and how they expect to feel during the appointment. Thoughts such as “It will hurt” and “I can’t face the injection needle” create a negative expectation in the mind. This can be so strong and so powerful that even just mentioning the word ‘dentist’ can cause all those thoughts and feelings to rush back and set off the physical symptoms of anxiety.
The good news is that positive self-talk is just as just as powerful, so it can be used to tackle dental anxiety instead of reinforcing it.
At Jarvis Hypnotherapy, we help clients address a range of different fears and phobias, with overcoming dental anxiety being a frequent request. Whilst every sufferer of dental anxiety is unique, and our treatments are tailored to the nature of their individual fears, there are techniques and approaches that people can do on their own to lessen and overcome this anxiety. The length of the treatment depends on the problem or the symptom of the patient’s circumstances. You could feel so much more positive about your dentist visit in a few sessions – many can let go of their fear or phobia completely.
Hypnotherapy’s powerful desensitisation techniques will help tackle any phobias, and the relaxation and breathing techniques we teach you will enable you to greet your dentist with a friendly smile!
* Ref: Hypnosis in modern dentistry: Challenging misconceptions (Nicola Allison) FDJ Volume: 6 Issue: 4, October 2015, pp. 172-175 Published online: October 01, 2015
** Abdeshahi SK, Hashemipour MA, Mesgarzadeh V, Shahidi Payam A, Halaj Monfared A. Effect of hypnosis on induction of local anaesthesia pain perception control of haemorrhage and anxiety during extraction of third molars: a case-control study. J C raniomaxillofac Surg 2013; 41: 310–315