Buddha describes human mind one which is filled with drunken monkeys – jumping around, screeching, and chattering endlessly. He suggested that the only way to tame it is through meditation. Meditation is a well-known way to calm the mind, but another very close concept to meditation, which is often misunderstood, is hypnosis. People have been pondering and arguing over hypnosis for centuries now, but as it is an ancient study a sure definition is yet to be coined.
So what is hypnosis?
If you have already imagined a suspicious looking person swinging the pendulum back and forth at you, then you should read on to clear your misunderstandings.
Hypnosis is a trance state. The receiver does not lose control of his actions during hypnosis.
It is just like daydreaming, where the mind is more relaxed than usual. It is characterised by extreme suggestibility and heightened imagination. We enter this trance state many times a day. When we are driving, reading, or watching a movie. You are totally conscious, but you focus intently on subject at hand to near exclusion of any other thought.
A simple example is when you start crying during an emotional scene in the movie, you know that the characters are imaginary, their problems are imaginary, but you are so focused that you start feeling the pain of the characters and weep. This is exactly what happens when a trained hypnotist is guiding you to focus your thoughts on a particular feeling. Slowly, all your other feelings of fear are excluded by the mind as you enter the trance state.
Dental hypnotherapy / hypnodontics
Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis as a therapeutic technique.
When you sit on the dental chair and the dentist begins to load a syringe, asking you to relax, you may not really relax, but when the same instructions are given to you on a subconscious level in a trance state, the mind readily accepts it.
The idea of suggesting an imagined situation to elicit a psychological response can be utilised to reduce anxiety.
Who can be hypnotised?
Anyone who has the ability to concentrate can be hypnotised.
Does the patient lose control during the procedure?
Hypnosis is not magic. You do not lose control. You are into trance. This state is similar to the one when you unconsciously changing gears while driving. As long as the procedure is performed by a trained professional, there should be no fear of safety.
Applications in dentistry*
- Anxiety Management – Relaxation
- Phobia Management (specific phobias like general dental, needle, dental needle, blood, drill)
- Gagging (during procedures or denture / appliance intolerance)
- Parafunctional habits like bruxism, tongue thrusting
- Modification of other unwanted oral habits (like thumb sucking, nail biting)
- Acute Pain Control
- Chronic Facial Pain
- Psychosomatic Facial Pain
- TMJ dysfunction
- Salivation control
- Bleeding control
- Compliment Inhalation / intravenous /oral sedation
- Improved compliance with oral hygiene regimes
- Smoking cessation
- Treatment of anxiety / stress related recurrent aphthous stomatitis
Where to find it?
Dental hypnosis is regularly used by dentists in western world. For Indian dentists, this is still an upcoming branch of practice. The following places offer professional courses in hypnotherapy
Hypnosis is a wonderfully benign therapy which with correct training and right patient selection can add value to a professional practice and skill set.
*Application of dental hypnosis may differ from individual to individual depending on the seriousness of their dental flaw and their physical as well as mental state.
The author is a dentist.