27th July 2021
‘Hypnosis...that wouldn’t work on me...I would resist it’
‘That’s mumbo jumbo’
‘Will you be brainwashing me?’
‘What if I get stuck in hypnosis?’
Personally, I don’t like using the word hypnosis for all the above reasons...people have formed their own opinions from watching stage hypnosis or hypnosis on TV...used for entertainment purposes.
I prefer to call it a natural and relaxed state of mind, where the subconscious mind becomes sensitive to positive and beneficial suggestions. Your own mind is doing all the work. The therapist guides you, helps you, enables you to see clearly how to deal with the issues that have held you back for years.
By showing you how to relax your body and mind deeply, the client is able to calmly accept the beneficial suggestions that they can cope with their treatment, that it will be comfortable, and nothing will bother them. It’s a two-way process, the client must want to deal with their issues and work with you.
“Just get on with it...I don’t believe in all that stuff!” said my patient who had known me for 9 years.
The patient could deal with any dental treatment except for extractions. Crowns, fillings...no bother at all. But a troublesome upper wisdom tooth had him trembling, literally shaking from head to toe.
He put up with the pain of recurrent infections for two years. His GP even referred him to a psychiatrist. But nothing helped.
“I can't even get near you with the local anaesthetic while you are shaking so much. Tell me why you are so frightened?”
He told me that when he was 13 yrs old he was sent to the Eastman Dental Hospital to have 4 teeth out before having braces fitted to straighten his teeth. He remembers the anaesthetic mask over his face, the feeling of panic, the soreness afterwards, the feeling of not being in control.
“Please let me help you. Please let me guide you to help you relax. Because otherwise I will need to cancel this appointment...”
He reluctantly sat on the dental chair and started to breathe slowly and deeply as I explained how to gradually relax his body. After fifteen minutes he stopped shaking and calmed down. Then I was able to numb his gum with the local anaesthetic, gently, having applied surface numbing cream first.
It took 5 seconds to remove the tooth once he was numb. “This will heal really well, as it came out easily” I told him. “I wasn’t hypnotised at all!” he exclaimed. I smiled...”Maybe, maybe not...however you were calm, relaxed, stopped shaking, and kept beautifully still during the treatment...call it what you like...I am very happy with how you coped...well done”
This true anecdote is just one example of the benefits of hypnosis in dentistry.
The real benefit and reward for me and my clients is in using hypnotherapy to find out why the client is fearful, what has happened in their life to trigger the fear, and how to deal with this fear, how to remove it completely. This is done, by uncovering the problem prior to hypnosis, taking a thorough history of the issue, then using various techniques under hypnosis to re-visit the issue and to re-frame it, so the client can eradicate their fear.
Another client was needle phobic. She also wanted to get over it so she could get her Cov19 vaccine and therefore travel home to France to visit her family. We met on Zoom. Yes, you can be hypnotised over Zoom, from the comfort of your own sofa. She could recall the first time she was about to be vaccinated at the age of 6yrs. She was scared and bit the nurse! Every time after that she would feel panic, feel sick and hit out at the nurse. The classic Fight or Flight reaction, which is innate in all of us, in fact in all animals. But over-exaggerated, so magnified in her mind that it took her 5 weeks to even consider contacting me to help her get over her phobia. Under hypnosis we dealt with her fears by re-visiting them but before this by establishing a very calm and happy place in her mind where she felt totally relaxed, secure and safe. From this place of safety, she could observe the episodes in her life where she felt threatened as if she was watching a film of her life. Then by looking at the frightened part of her and making her realise this part no longer gave her any benefits, she was able to discard this part that was holding her back from getting beneficial medical treatment. It may sound childish to be ‘talking’ to the inner child, but the subconscious mind understands this way of talking...it needs to process these memories in simple terms...and it finds a way of doing this under therapy.
That evening I received an email “I’ve booked my vaccine appointment”
The week after I received another email “You saved my life...I had my vaccine without feeling sick, without panicking and without trying to hit the nurse!”
And when travel restrictions are lifted, she will be on her way to France.
This is why I love hypnosis and hypnotherapy. If you have dental anxiety, needle phobia, gagging issues or other dental/medical anxieties or habits please consider hypnosis and hypnotherapy, and you will find it completely changes your way of thinking about the issue.
Dr Mandy Kent BDS
27th July 2021, 2:33pm
I like this account. I am now retired but used hypnosis in dentistry since 1975. I now believe that a failure to teach the therapeutic use of hypnosis at undergraduate or foundation train level for all surgical specialties is an act of omission. I like the differentiation between hypnosis technique for clinical use, which is dealing with a patient who is in a 'trauma' situation and dealing with the cause which is more like dealing with a PTDS and reframing the root cause. ( In my opinion ). I like forward to some comment on this view! Thank you for writing this item for the blog.