Dental Hypnosis and Pain Sensation
Hypnotists - the legitimate, qualified ones, anyway - practice their craft by first helping you to achieve this quiet mental state.
Once your mind is quieted, a hypnotist then gives you suggestions or instructions which are intended to help you visualize accomplishing your goal.
During hypnosis, your normal, conscious awareness of the external world is limited. Instead, your mind focuses inward, on a visual image, thought, emotion, physical stimulus or activity.
In short, you enter into what is commonly called a "trance." There's nothing sinister about entering a trance state - in fact, people do it spontaneously every day, on their own without any help.
If you've ever felt like you were cruising on autopilot, been so absorbed in a book that hours fly by while you're reading, or been lost in your thoughts, you've experienced a trance state. Even professional athletes enter trance states regularly, although they call it being in "the zone." Hypnosis simply formalizes and intensifies the effects of being in a trance state.
Hypnosis During A Dental Intervention
There is nothing magic or malign about hypnosis in general, and more specifically, the same is true for dental hypnosis.
Patients who are hypnotized during their dental procedures do not "lose control" over their behavior or thoughts. And as long as the hypnotist has been thoroughly trained and is qualified and competent in dental hypnosis, there is very little reason to be concerned about your safety.
Naturally, you should avoid being hypnotized by someone who simply took a weekend hypnosis course and now claims to be a fully qualified hypnotherapist.
Some dental practitioners believe trance states and hypnosis can be useful in dentistry. These advocates view hypnosis as a treatment adjunct, not as a type of dental treatment per se.
We all know dental treatment often involves some pain. Some dentists are also trained in hypnosis, and these practitioners are able to carry out dental procedures by using hypnosis on their patients instead of injecting painkillers or administering nitrous oxide.
In addition to using hypnosis to alleviate or eliminate the pain associated with filling a cavity (for example), some practitioners use this technique to control an inordinately strong gag reflex, treat chronic facial pain, avoid the effects of a dental phobia, or modify or eliminate undesirable habits such as grinding the teeth.
Whether hypnosis has a proper place in the practice of dentistry is a topic that's ripe with controversy.
Those who favor using hypnosis seek to turn the power of the human mind toward accomplishing the positive outcome of overcoming pain (and the fear of pain, which can be just as potent as the pain itself) rather than letting that same powerful mind run amok with fear and its response to pain.
These advocates believe the mind is a powerful tool which can accomplish a great deal if it is allowed to do so by entering a trance state.
People who lobby against the use of dental hypnosis feel equally strongly about the subject. They sometimes cite stories of patients who emerge from their trance state prematurely, before their dental procedure is completed. These unfortunate patients can experience excruciating pain because they have not received anesthesia.
As is the case with many topics where controversy abounds, the truth about hypnosis is probably somewhere between the two extremes. We invite you to share your experiences with dental hypnosis, whether those experiences have been positive or negative.
In general, hypnosis works well for some people, but it doesn't work for everyone. The same is probably true for dental hypnosis.
And once again, if you're considering undergoing hypnosis during a dental intervention, remember to make sure your dentist is qualified to perform the hypnosis as well as the dental procedure itself.
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