For dentists attempting to manage symptoms of dental anxiety in their patients, common methods such as anesthesia, conversational techniques, and alternative treatment options are used to help ease patients. However, within a small section of dentistry comes the topic of hypnosis. Some dentists have invested themselves in the idea of hypnosis to help patients ease feelings of anxiety, discomfort, and phobias with their dental care. Also known as hypnotherapy, some forms of treatment still use hypnosis as a way to manage their patients, and in today’s article, we’re going to be exploring whether or not hypnosis truly works.
Why Hypnosis May (Or May Not) Work For Some Patients
In the broadest definitions, hypnosis refers to a practice that uses suggestive measures to induce the subject into a half-asleep state. Within this stage, the patient maintains a certain degree of awareness while appearing fully conscious but is more prone to suggestions and actions created by the hypnotizer. This state of trance is meant to be used as a way to sedate the patient without the need for sedative medications.
There are many reasons why it isn’t used in dental practices today, with one of them being that hypnotherapy cannot replace the pain-relieving capabilities that anesthetics provide. Some patients may not work with hypnotherapy due to psychological reasons, and the effectiveness of this treatment isn’t proven by scientific research to be in any way valuable. However, some patients may ultimately benefit from hypnotherapy alongside standardized treatment, especially children and young adults, as these methods can help ease symptoms of dental anxiety and provide relief for those sensitive to dental treatment in general.
Better Alternatives to Hypnosis For Dental Anxiety
Because hypnosis isn’t effective for every patient, it cannot be fully relied upon to sustain successful results. However, the alternatives to hypnosis provide better ways to help patients manage their dental anxiety and receive treatments. These options include:
- Nitrous Oxide Sedation: Nitrous oxide sedation, also called laughing gas, is a safe, effective way to help young patients receive dental treatment, especially for treatments that require patients to be fully conscious. This gas helps relax patients into a semi-conscious, dreamlike state and wears off quickly for easy recovery.
- Oral Sedation: Oral sedation uses prescription medications to place the patient under a semi-conscious or unconscious state, depending on the dosage and type of medications used. These types of sedation can be used for more complex surgeries, such as implants and crowns.
- IV Sedation: Similar to oral sedation, IV sedation administers the medications through an IV line directly into the vein. Although this method cannot be used for every patient, patients that use IV sedation will typically be unconscious, allowing for more complex oral surgeries to take place.
While hypnosis isn’t a recommended form of sedation treatment, finding a dentist who will provide you with the care you need is. Because each clinic’s sedation methods differ depending on the practice, it’s important to contact your local dentist before your appointment to discuss your options for sedation.