July 15, 2013, by Ben Schoeffler
Hypnosis is ideal in the dental office for:
- Reducing and/or eliminating teeth grinding
- Reducing the pain of TMJD
- Reducing dental anxiety
- Speeding the healing of dental procedures
- Used as an alternative or additional pain killer during procedures
Hypnosis is becoming a more common place therapy offered within dental offices. Many dentists have found that having a medical hypnotist on staff not only helps with certain complicated cases like bruxism or an overactive gag-reflex, but it can also make the experience of visiting the dentist a pleasant one for adults and children alike. Here are a few studies that I really enjoy, along with a description of some of the things you might find a medical hypnotist doing in a dental office:
"The results of the study showed that hypnosis can effectively reduce anxiety, haemorrhage and pain".
Bruxism / Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding and/or clenching can be an incredibly frustrating problem not only for the patient but also for the dentist. Teeth grinding happens unconsciously either at night when the patient is asleep, or it can even occur unnoticed during the day. This grinding motion wears away already completed dental work, can chip or crack teeth, and can lead to pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and surrounding facial muscles. There are a variety of solutions that can aid with the symptoms of bruxism, the most popular is the dental splint or night guard. This is a piece of molded material that the patient wears at night to provide a barrier in between their upper and lower teeth. While a night guard is a great buffer, it usually does not reduce the grinding at night.
Since bruxism is largely an unconscious activity it only makes sense to use hypnosis, a tool that works with a persons unconscious to change automatic behaviors that are undesired. By combining a night guard with a series of visits to a certified medical hypnotist, a patient can see an immediate increase in comfort with an eventual reduction / elimination of grinding all together. This is an ideal solution not only for those that want to stop grinding, but also for patients that want to protect their investment of dental work that they have had done, or plan on completing in the future.
Hypnotic pain control (analgesia)
Sometimes in certain situations a patient will not want the use of drugs or pain killers during a procedure or post-op. This can be for a variety of reasons: Allergic reactions, addiction concerns, ineffectiveness of certain drugs with a patient's personal chemistry. Whatever the reason may be, hypnosis is a proven effective analgesic used in countless medical procedures such as tooth extraction, fillings, and crown placement. Not only does hypnosis provide pain relief, it also helps to reduce bleeding during the procedure and speeds healing afterward.
Although hypnosis can be used as the only analgesic, it can also be used in combination with traditional chemical pain killers in order to reduce the dosage that is usually given. It is really up to the patient and the dentist to decide the best course of action. Even if hypnosis is not used for pain control, it can be utilized to promote healing and increase comfort. Although words are a powerful thing, nothing is quite like seeing a live procedure performed using hypnosis. Below is an example of hypnosis being used as the primary analgesic for two teeth extractions and implants.
Nervousness, anxiety, and gag reflex
Sometimes the most effective use of hypnosis is helping the patient enjoy their time in the dental chair. It's no secret that some people avoid the dentist due to anxiety over past experiences or fear over possible future scenarios. By helping a patient relax and release their tension they can find that the dentist can actually be quite an enjoyable experience. This same methodology can be applied to children to ensure that they have a long and happy experience with the dentist for the rest of their lives. Occasionally a patient might have a stronger gag reflex than normal which can make some dental procedures all but impossible. With hypnosis the dental office now has a tool to help someone overcome that reaction using the power of their mind.
"Rapid relaxation is recommended for managing mild dental anxiety, which is almost universal. It combines elements of hypnosis, meditation and good basic chairside manner. It is noninvasive, takes little additional time, and empowers patients by providing them with an attractive, immediate alternative to catastrophization. We have found that [these techniques] markedly improves the quality of the dental experience."