Dental Hypnosis and Children

Dr Tony Widmonte BDS(Wits)

Hypnosis in dentistry is not widely used today but in the hands of a trained and experienced Dentist or Hypnotherapist its advantages can be quite profound.

Children usually make excellent hypnotic subjects.

They have such wonderful imaginations that you can easily induce a hypnotic state by persuading them to imagine taking off in a spaceship or taking part in their favourite television show by allowing their eyes to be the television sets.

A large percentage of childhood and adolescent problems stem from unresolved emotional issues. These children are often anxiety ridden with a lack of confidence and they become totally dependent on one or both of the parents. They sometimes exhibit various problems such as nail biting, stuttering, obsessive compulsive disorders, bed wetting, behavioural problems, nightmares and even bulimia. Hypnosis can resolve some of these symptoms but in others individual and family therapy is necessary.

From a dental aspect the thumb sucking, grinding, examination anxiety and bulimia (in the older children) are the main problems. The child with examination and treatment anxiety is the most difficult to treat as they are usually very young children and communication is difficult. Some cases will certainly respond to hypnosis while others can only be treated with tranquilisers or general anaesthetics.

When you take your child for a dental examination you as the parent will know if your child is going to be difficult to treat or not. Under such circumstances be honest with yourself and don’t be embarrassed – there are lots of nervous children –  discuss with your dentist the different options available for treating your child.

Remember it is vital that your dentist is sympathetic to a fearful child because if he is mishandled you may land up with a patient who is terrified of the dentist for the rest of his/her life.

If you think your child might respond well to hypnosis then ask your dentist and if he thinks this a viable alternative then he can refer you to someone – but if he is prepared to treat your child and doesn’t think it such a good idea then you should be guided by him – after all, he is your dentist.

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