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Clinical hypnosis in dentistry

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Clinical hypnosis in dentistry

Jasmin Davey graduated from Cardiff University in 2013 and has recently completed her dental foundation year one at a practice in Sandhurst. Jasmin is now working in primary care at Caledonia Dental Practice in Chippenham. My article aims to explain how hypnosis can be used within primary care, to share my experiences of hypnosis as a young dentist and to encourage dentists to explore this exciting area of dentistry.


During dental foundation year 1 I particularly enjoyed treating anxious dental patients within the primary care setting, enabling them to return for continuing care and reducing the strain on community dental services.  As I wished to continue my development in this area, I signed up for a course in dental hypnosis at UCL Eastman. I have now completed the four month course and wished to write this article to share my experiences and my new found passion for this unique area of pain and anxiety control.



Every dental practitioner will have encountered the patient who is overcome with anxiety and apprehension when they enter the dental surgery and many find this very challenging to manage. Clinical hypnosis is a natural and effective technique which can enable these patients to relax enough to undergo dental treatment, without the need for sedation or general anaesthetic.


Clinical hypnosis

There is much mystery and misunderstanding surrounding the term ‘hypnosis’ and this has led to many individuals being afraid of its use.  Fundamentally hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness which enables an individual to enter a state of relaxation. Whether this is light, medium or deep, the individual under hypnosis is always in control. Within the dental surgery a light, or perhaps medium, state of hypnosis can easily be achieved and at this level of trance suggestions can be quite potent and effective. This can allow relaxation, preparation of the patient for local or general anaesthetic, toleration of impression taking without gagging or sickness, toleration of wearing prosthetic or orthodontic appliances and often a degree of analgesia.

Over the past four months I have learnt a vast amount about hypnotherapy and have mastered several techniques for inducing hypnosis within the dental surgery. I have used the primary approach to hypnotherapy, where hypnosis is used in conjunction with the patient’s dental procedure. The primary approach to clinical hypnosis includes positive language, trance induction, deepening of the trance, incorporation of distractions and tailored dental ego strengthening. This allows the patient to relax, the treatment to be conducted and encourages the patient to return for continuing care. On the other hand, the secondary approach involves several sessions of hypnosis prior to the dental procedure and is usually employed when there is a more substantial, specific dental fear. This can be used alone, or most commonly in combination with the primary approach.


My experiences

Since attending the dental hypnosis course my approach to dental care has altered and I honestly feel that I have become a calmer, caring dental professional. I have used my newly established skills of voice alteration and calming, hypnotic language with the majority of my patients to great effect.  With particular patients I have also attempted the primary approach of hypnosis and have found it very effective. However, I feel I require further practice to develop confidence and, once I have mastered the primary approach, I hope to attempt the secondary approach so that I can treat a broader range of patients.


In future, I would like to combine clinical hypnosis with inhalation sedation for extremely anxious dental patients.  Over time, I feel patients could be gradually weaned off of the sedation as their confidence in hypnosis increases.


Self hypnosis

Finally, I would like to comment on how leaning the art of hypnosis has helped in both my personal and professional life. During the course at UCL Eastman ( ) you get the opportunity to learn and practise self hypnosis, which I have found to be very useful in managing the stress of being an associate. I would strongly recommend all young dentists investigate hypnotherapy, both for their own development as an individual and as a professional.

Jasmin Louise Davey


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