Theoretical concepts and practical applications of hypnosis in the treatment of children and adolescents with dental fear and anxiety

Br Dent J. 1996 Jan 6;180(1):11-6., Shaw AJ, Niven N.

Department of Child Dental Health, Dental Hospital, Newcastle Upon Tyne.


Dental fear and anxiety in children and adolescents is a common problem. Hypnosis has been shown to be useful in the treatment of these patients. This paper briefly reviews conventional management skills before considering the application of hypnosis. Following a definition of hypnosis, the concepts of relaxation, restricted awareness, blunting of critical faculties and the enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion are outlined. Consideration is given to the induction of hypnosis and its general application in an informal and formal manner. The application of more specific techniques, such as the use of hypnoanalgesia to reduce physical discomfort and the development of coping strategies to help children overcome their fears, are discussed. It has been widely shown that hypnosis is a useful adjunct in dentistry. However, it is unfortunate that hypnosis is not more widely used as it has the potential for making conventional dental management more acceptable and reducing the number of children requiring general anaesthesia.