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Hypnosis Applied to Dental Practice

Clinical hypnosis seems to bring advantages to dentistry for it helps neutralize indefensible nervousness and phobia in patients. Dentists who make use of hypnosis are more able to relieve their anxious patients’ pain and fear. This article provides an insight into the advantages of hypnosis as a therapy, and explores its applications in dentistry.

Dentists who use hypnosis regularly in their clinical practices appreciate a variety of significant advantages. There are many and varied applications of clinical hypnosis in dental clinical practice. Dental applications of hypnosis include relaxation, relief from fears and anxieties, reduction in both the perception and severity of pain during procedures, control of bleeding and salivation (both for increasing and decreasing flow, as needed), control of bruxism (tooth grinding), finger-sucking, and other habits, and promotion of behavioral modifications associated with optimization of oral health.

Amongst a lot of options for behaviour management and modifications, hypnotics is one of the oldest and non-invasive way to control dental anxiety in children, adult as well as in geriatric patients and hence get a better treatment result and a good compliance and satisfaction of the patient.

Use of hypnosis in the dental practice

Hypnosis can bring considerable relief to anxious patients and make it easier for the dentist to do their job but it is particularly implemented in order to help patients relax. As relaxation raises the pain threshold, requirement for local anaesthesia is reduced. And even if it is necessary, it is better tolerated. Therefore, the use of hypnosis as a general relaxation strategy is certainly possible and there are reports in the literature of its use in both adults and children.

Moreover, clinical benefits can be derived from hypnosis such as the control of dentophobia, abnormally active gag reflex, trigeminal neuralgia pain, benign chronic orofacial pain, temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD), adaptation to dentures, behaviour modification, like thumb sucking, bruxism. Additionally, hypnosis can control salivary flow and bleeding. Xerostomia and haemostasis can be produced through hypnotic suggestions, such as visualizing being in a desert on a hot day and noticing how dry the mouth becomes because of lack of water. Mental imagery of the ligation of a bleeding vessel can be used to decrease bleeding after soft tissue surgery. 

Hypnosis in children and adolescents is possible, but, much harder to administer than in the adults. It is also true that not everybody is susceptible to hypnosis, as it is apparent that this phenomenon has also some association with genetics and brain structure.

Current methods of hypnosis

A distinction arises between a deep type of hypnosis and a light one and both have different applications. Deep hypnosis takes long so it is not apt for regular dental practice; however, it is required for analgesia and behaviour modification. On the other hand, the ‘light’ state is easier and faster to attain and is used in hypnodontia on a daily basis; for instance, to relax a nervous patient in a matter of minutes. 

Dentists have to use positive suggestions managing patients. Words or actions that inspire trust in the dentist will relieve the patient’s anxiety and fear. Informal hypnotic methods include the use of utterances like “you will feel quite comfortable” or “you will like the results” and this can be a powerful technique of patient management. Suggestions can be categorized into two broad types: direct and indirect. 

Direct suggestion involves straightforward statements that are clearly understood by the hypnotic subject. An example would be: “don’t move your head because you won’t be able to before finishing.” Indirect suggestion uses indirectness in addressing the subject in a form of covert hypnotic statements. That is to say the subject is hypnotized without their knowledge. 


Hypnosis has many uses within the dental field, ranging from simple relaxation of the anxious patient to complete analgesia for surgery. Clinical hypnosis can be an incredibly valuable tool in dentistry. 

by Dental News

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