Can hypnosis cure dental phobia?

Hypnosis isn’t used that frequently for treating the actual dental phobia. For example, our advisory board member Mike Gow (one of the few dentists in the UK who holds a Masters degree in Hypnosis Applied to Dentistry) uses hypnosis “formally” with only about 15% of his phobic patients. But for those 15%, it works really well!

Hypnosis can be really useful if you have both a fear of injections and a medical phobia. A medical phobia may make you reluctant to try sedation as a way of accepting dental injections. In this case, a hypnosis technique called “guided imagery” can be used instead of sedation if you prefer distraction, and hypnosis in conjunction with systematic needle desensitisation if you prefer a monitoring coping style (see Monitoring vs Blunting for more info).

What other applications of hypnosis are there in dentistry?

Some applications of hypnosis in dentistry include controlling a strong gag reflex, treating chronic facial pain, modification of unwanted habits such as teeth grinding, and much more.

Can Hypnosis Be Harmful?

We’ve been asked “How can people ensure that a hypnotherapist won’t ‘mess with their heads’ and inadvertently harm them?”. The following answer from Mike Gow BDS explains how to find a safe hypnotherapist:

“I would recommend that hypnosis should be used as an adjunct to therapy by an appropriately trained professional who is a member of a recognised society. There are many ‘lay’ hypnotherapists and the public find it very difficult to differentiate between people who are plumbers and did a weekend course and now (quite legally) advertise in the yellow pages, and folk who have an associated profession in which hypnosis is used as an adjunct, and have undertaken extensive courses.

Even with detailed explanation of qualifications it is difficult to know what’s what. There has been some controversy recently as a ‘lay’ organisation hired a room at a London Hospital, and certificates were issued to people with no medical/dental/psychology background stating that they trained in hypnosis at the Hospital! How misleading is that to the public! Definitely a mine field, and my advice would be stick to a professional who is a member of one of the recognised hypnosis societies.

Lay hypnotherapists ARE NOT qualified in any way, and often have undertaken a hypnosis course despite their lack of related qualifications. They then promote themselves as qualified hypnotherapists. Qualified hypnotherapists are very much in a minority. As there is no real stipulation for additional qualifications in hypnosis, any dentist (or medical professional) can ‘dabble’ in hypnosis with only a very basic understanding of it.

It is my opinion that anyone going to a UK hypnotherapist should use someone who is registered with one of the major hypnosis societies in the UK, i.e. BSECH, BSMDH, BSMDH (Scotland), BSMDH Mets & South, or RSM Section of Hypnosis & Psychosomatic Medicine. Anyone who is a member of these societies has at the very least undergone training (probably of 4 to 8 full days) related to their profession. This would undoubtedly be the safest way of determining that you are going to someone who is qualified in treating you.”

The information on this page has been provided by the Dental Fear Central Web Team and Mike Gow BDS, MSc in Hypnosis Applied to Dentistry. Last updated December 4, 2018. We welcome your feedback on our information resources.