Improving patient engagement and experience has become intrinsically important in all forms of medicine, and an area of which dental practitioners have long been aware. Dental hypnosis can dramatically enhance patient experience, but it’s a field that is frequently misunderstood.
You may already be approaching it
Many dental practitioners are already intuitively utilising certain aspects of dental hypnosis in their communication with patients. Similar techniques are frequently used to manage patient anxiety in different ways, but without the practitioner necessarily being fully aware of the mechanism involved or how to optimise such communication to enhance the patient experience.
It does not involve a loss of control
To begin to understand how dental hypnosis can be of particular benefit to dental patients, it is perhaps useful to first dismiss a primary misconception.
It is often assumed that hypnosis in general involves a loss of control. This is fundamentally incorrect.
The aim of dental hypnosis is in fact to assist the patient to gain greater control of their own mind body functioning and thus aid their treatment.
It centres around the use of language…
Simply put, hypnosis can be observed as the resulting experience of a particular communication. Perhaps more than any school of psychological therapy, practitioners of classical therapeutic hypnosis have explored the use of language and how it can be used to help facilitate positive experiences.
When we communicate with others verbally, we can recognise that the words used represent complex mental processes that we experience.
…and how we respond to experiences
Thinking of a situation of which we are fearful naturally evokes the same physiological and mental processes that we would experience if we were actually there. These feelings are likely to become more pronounced the more clearly we imagine it.
We ultimately do not respond to the situation, but to the thought of the situation.
Therefore, if we invoke appropriate perceptual experiences in a focussed manner, it is possible that the mind body system can be influenced in positive ways. This is the fundamental basis of dental hypnosis.
It can assist the patient and the dental team
Dental hypnosis can empower and engage the patient in their treatment, and improve communication between patient and dentist.
It can be used to reduce general anxiety and to ameliorate specific dental fears, as well as positively manage and influence a range of responses that might impede treatment (such as gagging, tongue defence and pain).
It can also facilitate positive associations with ongoing and future dental treatment, improving patient confidence, compliance and retention.
Through self-application, dental hypnosis can also reduce the stress of the dental practitioner and enhance communication within the dental team.
Find out more
UCL Eastman Dental Institute has partnered with Brief Clinical Hypnosis to present a five-day introduction to dental hypnosis, taught by staff who have extensive experience of teaching clinical hypnosis techniques to dental professionals. The next course begins this September.
To find out more and to reserve your place, visit www.ucl.ac.uk/eastman/cpd/courses/dental-hypnosis.