Fear of the dentist hypnotherapy
What is a fear of the dentist?
I know my dentist wouldn’t want to hear me say that, nobody particularly enjoys going to the dentists. However it is necessary to keep your teeth in good health. Leave it too long and you face all kinds of problems and will regret that you hadn’t put it off so long.
With dental phobia (or a fear of the dentist), the fear isn’t just anxiousness about the dentist, it is an extreme fear or dread of the dentist. Some phobics will book an appointment but then cancel it and constantly move the booking because of the extreme fear.
Symptoms of the anxiety may be:
- Rapid beating heart
- Shallow breathing
- Trembling or shaking
- Butterflies in the stomach and chest
So where does this fear if the dentist originate? There may be many reasons that the fear is present, one common reason is the over inflated fear of the pain that comes from visiting the dentist, the teeth are very sensitive after all. However, modern day dentistry are very aware of the fear induced by cleaning teeth and have new tools that are pain free.
Some people are also needle phobics and dread the use of the needle. This can be very traumatic for the patient.
Then there is something called the ‘gag reflex’, this is were the patient gags when the mouth is opened and the dentist works within the mouth. This can be a very uncomfortable feeling indeed and the only way to avoid the feelings of anxiety is to avoid the dentist completely.
Some patients learn the behaviour, when they are young, from a parent. They may have seen mum or dad, or a guardian, react badly to a trip to the dentist.
The fear also, could just simply grow over time. this is by way of faulty thinking. We create the fear in our minds by using such thought styles as ‘Magnification’ or ‘catastrophising’, this is creating a worst case scenario in our minds about just how awful it will be if we went to the dentist, seeing it in the worst possible way, and when we do this we create ‘worry’, and the fear of the dentist grows and grows until it is huge in our minds.
We may also use a thought style of ‘generalisation’. This is driven by the other top reason for the fear of the dentist when the patient experienced a bad event whilst visiting the dentist. An example of this is when the patient is young and has a bad memory of having an injection, a tooth filled or an extraction etc. Generalisation is the fear that because something bad happened once it will happen again and again in the same way.
So how can hypnotherapy and psychotherapy help with a fear of the dentist?
I use a carefully structured approach of helping with the feelings of anxiety to balance them and the thoughts that accompany the bad feelings. In hypnosis I work with you to find out the real reason for the fear of the dentist and teach you relaxation techniques to relax you both on the run up to an appointment and the appointment itself. Using powerful visualisation techniques and anchoring (a way to lock in calmness), to assist you with putting aside your fear and rationalising it. When we rationalise it and the mind accepts that there is no danger, the individual can move on.
Another technique is to regress or get the patient to go back in time within hypnosis to what we call the initial sensitising event. This is basically getting the client to revisit a bad memory, in a safe way, and then to apply some techniques to deal with the fear at the source. Amid all this, I use some of my favourite psychotherapy techniques. These are techniques used out of hypnosis and deal with the conscious part of the brain, the bit you think with.
If you or someone you care about has a fear of the dentist, then you need to know that the fear can be helped and that you can overcome it. Very often just getting back into the dentist is enough to show the mind that there wasn’t anything to worry about, and a lot of my dental phobia clients tell me they wish they had come to see me years ago.
I work from my office in Warrington which is also within 30 mins of Liverpool and Manchester, just off the M62. Why not start off the process of conquering your fear by calling or emailing me? All the details are on my contact page.
More information can be found here on dental phobia.