BACKGROUND: Gag reflex is an involuntary defence mechanism to protect the pharynx and throat from foreign objects. Gagging is a common problem encountered during dental treatment, which makes therapeutic procedures distressing and often difficult or even impossible to perform. Various interventions can be used to control the gag reflex; for example, anti-nausea medicines, sedatives, local and general anaesthetics, herbal remedies, behavioural therapies, acupressure, acupuncture, and prosthetic devices.
This article will discuss the uses of hypnosis in selected dental situations. In certain cases, the verbalization of the dentist during the procedural steps will be condensed or referenced in the literature.
Hypnosis is not a therapy, but can provide the clinician with a set of techniques which may be used to augment or facilitate a particular course of treatment. The importance of the patient's history and clinical findings in the diagnosis of intolerance to dentures and the selection of patients for hypnosis is discussed. Principles of treatment using relaxation, anxiety control, conditioning/desensitisation and confidence boosting techniques are described.