Episode 059 | Hypnosis – How to be relaxed at the Dentist

Hello and welcome to episode number 59 of Elmar´s Tooth Talk: The missing link to total health. I’m Dr Elmar Jung.

In today’s episode we explore a way how to be relaxed in the dentist chair. We are talking about this can be achieved by using a technique called Hypnosis.

So, before we start let me tell you What’s in it for you in this episode:
We talk about:

  • WHAT is hypnosis
  • HOW you get into a state of hypnosis
  • WHO is suitable for hypnosis and who is not
  • HOW hypnosis works in children
  • Helpful tips for parents


Isn’t this when a stage magician makes people do things they would normally not do if they were in their sound minds such as run around and yell like a chicken, eat something they wouldn’t eat in a million years or strip their clothes off?

We ask ourselves, is this really magic or just show? Does this thing called hypnosis actually work?

Does it work for dental patients? Does it actually help to eliminate or at least minimise dental fear and phobia?

As you probably know, very few people love going to the dentist. Many of our female patients say, I’d rather have another child then having anything done to my teeth.

So we know there is great demand to relax patients for their treatment or even just making the move into the dental chair.

Fear isn’t just with the patient it can have an ripple effect on the entire dental team, making the situation rather tense.

Fear of going to the dentist – who doesn’t know it?

There are many different reasons why someone fears going to the dentist. Be it the fear of needles, the fear of drilling sound, the fear of pain, the fear of unpleasant smells or the fear of gagging.

But what can one do about it?

Options to reduce fear at the dentist

The first option would be keep avoiding going to the dentist and hope for the best. Obviously, not the smartest solution.

Another option is to have the treatment carried out in general anaesthetic which for most dental procedures would be a bit overt the top.

One could get a prescription drug from the GP to sedate you for a while. However, this doesn’t guarantee it will last over the entire time of the treatment.

Or you can opt for conscious sedation. This is when an anaesthetist gets you in a sleepy condition without being fully knocked out. This is a very safe way to remove any kind of fear or gag reflex however, depending on the length of the treatment, it can be rather costly.

Some dentists also use acupuncture points to sedate their patients.

And there is hypnosis.

A very gentle way of dealing with this fear.

It is the patient who benefits most from the treatment being carried out in hypnosis. But it also the dentist and their team who experience the treatment under hypnosis as much more relaxed.

Often it is a vicious circle. The patient is afraid which makes them tense and apprehensive. This tension is transmitted, albeit unconsciously, to the dentist and their team, which in turn makes the patient even more tense.

To break through this deadlock hypnosis offers a way out.

Hypnosis is absolutely painless and often has the post-treatment benefit of reduced or even no requirement for painkillers which make hypnosis particularly interesting for pregnant women and children.

What is hypnosis?

The word hypnosis comes from the Greek word hypnos. According to Greek mythology, Hypnos is the god of sleep.
Hypnosis is a method to bring about a different state of consciousness.
However, Hypnosis is not a form of sleep.

On the contrary, hypnosis is a special form of wakefulness during which the perception of the sensory organs, with the exception of hearing, is diminished and attention is diminished.

Contrary to popular belief, nothing can be done in hypnosis against the will of the hypnotized person that the hypnotized person would not do in a normal state.

How long has hypnosis been used in dentistry?

The first traditional tooth extraction under hypnosis was carried out in May 1824. At first it was all about pain reduction. Fear and dental phobia only added later in the mid-1950s.

How do you get in a state of hypnosis?

The induction of the state of hypnosis can be achieved by various methods. With influencing words, with instructions for relaxation with the help of hypnosis CDs or with distraction.

A basic requirement for hypnosis to succeed is a positive and trusting relationship between dentist and patient. This trust should be felt by everyone involved during the hypnosis session.

The dentist can use words to positively support the patient’s consciousness during hypnosis.

The hypnosis session is ended, for example, by counting down from 10 to one or a firm handshake.
Some dentists also do a kind of trial session with their patients so that they can experience the state of hypnosis without treatment.

How do you feel under hypnosis?

The patient should be placed in a relaxed trance state under hypnosis. The attention is focused on one thing, so that the surrounding area is completely hidden.
Unpleasant sensations are suppressed, the pulse is calm, the blood pressure is low and the muscles are relaxed.
The effect itself is individual for each person.

Different stages of hypnosis

There are three stages of hypnosis.

  • The light trance. Here the patient feels sleepy, the pulse beats slower, breathing is deeper, the eyes often close by themselves and the eyelids flicker strongly.
  • The middle trance. At this stage the patient is usually fully absorbed in his inner world and can follow his imagination like in a film.
  • The deep trance. This is like a deep sleep. The patient experiences a greatly reduced or complete pain sensation. Often a memory of this state is only partially possible.

Use of hypnosis at the dentist

The goal of hypnosis at the dentist is to eliminate pain and reduce anxiety and gagging. Some patients opt for hypnosis to avoid local anaesthetic.

When I did my hypnosis training many moons ago I was blown away what hypnosis could achieve.
The course was ran by one of German’s first Hypno-dentist Dr Albrecht Schmierer. Albrecht established his practice in Stuttgart as a primarily Hypnosis practice where people came from all over the world to have their treatment carried out in hypnosis.

At one of the training days we witnessed a surgical wisdom tooth extraction under hypnosis without any local anaesthetic. It was just amazing.

As a sign of the depth of his hypnotical state the arm of the patient was lifted. When the arm went down, Albrecht spoke some magic words and the arm rose again. He could even influence how much blood was in the area.

Despite it being a very difficult extraction, when the patient came back the next day, he had no pain, no swelling and the healing went on much quicker than it would do under normal circumstances.

It was almost like magic.

An interesting experience is that after you had your first hypnosis session, later visits to the dentist often do not require anaesthetic injections or re-hypnosis.

Faster healing and fewer after-effects are additional benefits.

Hypnosis can be used for different situations such as:

  • Discomfort of the masticatory muscles and the temporomandibular joint
  • Prosthetic intolerance
  • phantom pain
  • material phobia
  • Burning mouth
  • Inflammation of the gums
  • cold sores and herpes

Who is not suitable for hypnosis?

Hypnosis is not an option for everyone. Patients who are in psychotherapy should not be treated under hypnosis, as it is not foreseeable how they will react under hypnosis.

Also, if a patient is too sceptical about hypnosis or very tense, has inadequate imagination capacity and cannot concentration or focus properly or his expectations are too high, they might not benefit fully as this can affect the success of hypnosis.

Does hypnosis work for children too?

It is usually not possible for children to concentrate for as long as it would be necessary to complete a treatment under hypnosis. Therefore, other techniques are used which are very well accepted by the children.

Imagination journeys are such a technique to reduce fears of the dental procedure and to facilitate cooperation.

Other techniques include the use of positive words like hoover, or cleaner instead of drill and suction.

The agreement of a treatment goal and that the child can stop the intervention at any time during the treatment and thus remain in control has also proven successful.

Advice for parents:

Parents can do a lot to ensure that the first and subsequent visits to the dentist are pleasant and successful for their child.

So here are a few pieces of advice to help treat your offspring.

Please do not promise rewards or bribe your child. Do not make false claims such as “it will not hurt, you won’t feel a thing or it won’t take long”

The dentist explains the treatment in a child-friendly manner and usually much better than the parents can.

Always speak positively about the dentist’s visit and encourage the child to go to the treatment room alone.

So nothing should stand in the way of your next relaxed visit to the dentist.

And that’s it for today.

We’ll hear from you again next week.

I’m Dr. Elmar Jung with the podcast for your best health.

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