Dental Phobia Statistics
It is estimated that approximately 45% to 58% of all patients attending for dental treatment will exhibit symptoms of anxiety either in the dental environment or prior to entering the dental environment. For some these symptoms are severe and are expressed as an overt dental phobia that will lead to avoidance of dental treatment resulting in deterioration of the patient’s dental health. In fact, 5.5 million people in the UK suffer from dental phobias.
Common dental fears
Dental phobias can be the result of learnt behaviour or can result from prior bad experiences. They are characterised by a fear of the dentist or of some aspect of dentistry. In severe cases, the patient will be unable to look at pictures of teeth or to walk down a road that contains a dental surgery. The dental phobia will lead to avoidance that can result in mild to severe dental health problems. Panic attacks may be associated with the phobia.
Areas of concern for a patient may include:
- Gag reflex
- Surgical procedures
What is Hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is a therapy that uses hypnosis to help with the treatment and management of a wide range of conditions and issues. Hypnosis is a relaxed state of consciousness whereby the unconscious mind is more readily accessible and receptive to positive suggestions of change. During hypnosis, thought and behavioural patterns that are played out unconsciously can be interrupted. The hypnotherapist will then use suggestive language to encourage new and more beneficial thought and behavioural patterns.
How can Hypnotherapy help with dental phobia?
Hypnosis is acknowledged as an effective intervention in the treatment of dental anxieties and phobias. It is also an effective intervention for other dental problems (including controlling of the gag reflex, treating chronic facial pain, treating unwanted habits such as bruxism) as well as helping patients to comply with dental health recommendations.
Treatment will involve:
- Relaxation – Allowing the patient to relax the muscles around the jaw, head, neck and shoulders
- Self-hypnosis – to practice relaxation and as a part of stress management
- Systematic Desensitisation – ranking anxiety relating to dentistry into a hierarchy and using visualisation and suggestions to systematically remove anxiety
- Direct suggestions – where appropriate, suggestions of pain control can be used to help the patient deal with any dental work that may have some pain or discomfort associated with it
- Stress management – techniques and suggestions to help the patient successfully manage stress and feelings of anxiety
Patients will also be taught NLP techniques that they can use outside of hypnosis should they need it. Visualisation and positive mental rehearsal are key techniques. The brain cannot distinguish between something that has happened and something that has been vividly imagined.
Hypnotherapy has no known side effects and can be a great alternative to sedation or general anaesthetic, especially when it is dangerous or impossible for the patient. A number of dental procedures that would usually require sedation have been successfully conducted using hypnosis and its use is becoming more accepted into dental profession.
Who can benefit from Hypnotherapy?
Hypnosis is not just an effective tool for treating adults with a dental phobia. Research has shown that hypnosis is particularly effective in helping children aged 8-12 years, although it has been found that children as young as 4 can be responsive.
Hypnotherapy will not treat every case, but it is estimated that Hypnotherapy can be effective in helping up to 90% of the population. NLP techniques can also be highly effective in helping individuals and can be taught to anyone.
What is bruxism?
Bruxism is the medical term for teeth grinding and clenching of the jaw. It affects around 8-10% of the population. Most people will grind their teeth to some degree at some point during their life without any symptoms or complications. When the grinding becomes persistent however, it can lead to dental damage, headaches and earache.
Bruxism is a condition that is classified in two categories – awake and sleep. Awake bruxism occurs when the individual is awake. Often, there is little to no teeth grinding, just jaw clenching. This is often in response to certain stimuli. Sleep bruxism on the other hand occurs when the individual is asleep and involves both teeth grinding and contractions of the jaw muscles.
How can hypnotherapy help?
The teeth grinding that occurs with bruxism is unconscious and often linked to stress and anxiety. As hypnotherapy works at an unconscious level, hypnosis can be a highly effective treatment. Around 70% of sleep bruxism cases are believed to be stress related. Many individuals will come to anticipate the problem, which will in turn lead to the problem. Hypnosis supports the development of more positive coping methods and can be used to help programme an individual to anticipate a good night’s sleep instead where the jaw is relaxed. Subtle shifts in thinking can lead to great results.
We conduct our hypnosis sessions for dental phobia out of the Brewood Therapy Centre. This can be found at number 3 Church Road in Brewood. There is plenty of free parking in Brewood.
Contact Ed on 07921 220557
Contact Debbie on 07745 934682
Or fill in our online form.