Application of Christian Science to Dentistry
About three years ago, I began an investigation of Christian Science, and immediately put into practice the little I could understand, both in my business and in my home. The transformation in my life has been very great, in fact, the comparison, before and now, is about as night to day. Physically—and this is the only man I ever knew up to that time—I was healed of what the world calls "being a good fellow." This included the excessive use of alcohol and tobacco in all their forms. When Christian Science wiped these habits away it completely obliterated all desire for them, so that they are no temptation whatever now. My eyes had given me a great deal of inconvenience, and I had worn glasses for astigmatism for over four years, when I awoke to the fact that glasses did not make me see. So, with the assistance of Christian Science, I discarded them, and found my eyes much more satisfactory without the glasses than with them. The claim of rheumatism I also set aside as an unnecessary appendix for me to carry longer.
My wife, in turn, discarded probably as many claims as I. Our little baby's healing—then two years of age—in one night of an aggravated case of whooping cough, which the doctor summoned told us it would take at least five weeks to cure, was one of the signs that tended to lead us to the Truth. And so I might go on and enumerate case after case of healing in my own family that thousands of others are experiencing every day and stand ready to testify to. What I desire to deal with more particularly at this time is the application of the teachings of Christian Science to dentistry. This has been one of my problems, and I have undoubtedly made a great deal of it. Like all other students of this unlimited Science, I have not been as patient as I might have been. I have wanted to solve the problems that might present themselves some time, and was not satisfied to apply as much as I knew today, and work diligently for a greater understanding tomorrow. It was so easy to see the seeming big black clouds ahead, that many times I have been unable to see the reflected light from underneath them. My ideas of the profession of dentistry, when I began the study of Christian Science, were pretty well ground in, and were formed after taking the usual collegiate course, which is practically the same as that given to the medical students. The M. D. candidate takes up the study of therapeutics—the general system, normal and abnormal—in a more exhaustive manner than the dental student, who delves more deeply into mechanics, its laws and application. The one studying the principles and practice of medicine, the other of dentistry. So you see the courses are very much the same. This, together with the experience gained from an active practice of dentistry laid down on these lines for about ten years, had, as I before remarked, been pretty well ground in; and when I began to consider remodeling my practice to conform to my very indefinite idea of what would harmonize with Christian Science, it was a pretty big problem. Very much like the M. D. attempting to continue the practice of medicine on the principles of Christian Science. One of the easy ways of evading this seemingly very hard problem was to go into some other business. This seemed, at first thought, the wise thing to do. There were so many things, to my sense, that could not be made to harmonize with Christian Science. The whole profession seemed the opposite of what it should be. To effect the change, the problem seemed endless, and as long as I looked at the whole problem, everything was black. Then I would think of the years I had spent in preparing myself for the business—the years in working to the point of success, both as regards experience and practice—and the fact that many of my patients thought that I was of great service to them—was it the right thing to drop it? Then came the thought that no material business was scientific and that the time would come when they would be unnecessary; and unless I was able to offer people something better than dentistry as practised to-day, would I be doing myself or any one any good by dropping it? I realized that running away from a problem does not solve it, and I began then to see that by my quitting the practice of dentistry, I would not stop the present seeming need of dental work. This line of argument began to bring me to a little light. I then could see that this same thought would apply to every form of material business, and how unreasonable it would be for us all to drop our material work until we had demonstrated a better work. There is no question in the mind of any one who knows anything whatever of the teachings of Christian Science, that the dentist who is applying as much as he knows of its rules to his work will bring out far better results than one who does not. His work will be accomplished easier, and the results will be more perfect and satisfactory, both for patient and operator. This can also be said of any and every line of business. I recall how, early in this experience, when talking to a Christian Scientist who afterwards became my teacher, I told him that in dentistry we had to use a great many medicines to cure diseases of the teeth and assist us in our mechanical work in the mouth, and, of course, I could not get along without them; and if Christian Science was going to interfere with their use, I could not adopt it. What factors in bringing about the results desired, I then, and the majority of dentists to-day, attributed to these medicines, and how useless, from the standpoint of common sense, otherwise Christian Science, they have been proven to be! How much I owe to this teacher, I can never express or repay; for often when I would go to him with questions pertaining to seeming impossibilities, to my sense, he would, without making a law for me, or without pointing a definite way, tenderly, carefully, lead me back to a place I could understand and demonstrate from, and there he would hold me, and a little later I would be able to go to him and say, "Why, it seems so strange, but that case I talked to you about at such and such a time, it never happened." Had he said to me "You must not do this or that, because it is not scientific," I should not have understood, and probably I should to-day not have this understanding to assist me in my daily life. Like all beginners, I insisted on looking way ahead, and felt that if Christian Science was what was claimed for it, there would be no necessity for mechanical work in the mouth, to fill cavities with gold, or replace lost members with an artificial appliance.
I look back at my first feeble steps in applying my little knowledge of Christian Science to dentistry, and then think that to-day it is with no doubt or indecision that I do so, but with the firm knowledge that the proper application of its rules brings certain results, and that failures are due only to misapplication, or lack of understanding. One of the greatest problems in dentistry to-day is the fear of the patient. This causes more pain than all the work put together. If we will look about us a little, we shall not wonder much that we are in this condition, and ready to jump any minute that some one says, "Ghosts!" This is caused largely by an exaggeration of facts dating from childhood. We court sympathy. The child goes home and tells the mother that it has fallen down and hurt its hand, and the mother picks the little one up, and knows that it is suffering terrible pain, and has probably broken some bones, and in a moment the whole household is upset. The child is petted the balance of the day, given everything he wants, and he naturally thinks it is real nice to get hurt, and the next time he makes a little bigger fuss than before. The mother will come to her dentist with her child and after being informed that certain work is necessary, will immediately get excited, go all to pieces, and say something like this before the child, "Oh, that is terrible! How she will have to suffer! Do you think she is strong enough to stand it, doctor? Had I better have her father come and hold her?" etc., etc. Is it any wonder that this child suffers when having her teeth fixed? This same child is reproduced in the adult, and, ordinarily, the older the person, the greater the fear. It is the general talk in most all households to that extent that almost before the child erupts a tooth she knows all about the terrible punishment she must endure at the hand of the dentist. After such an education, you will not be surprised at the statement I now make and I do so without fear of contradiction by any dentist of experience, that if you can destroy in the patient the fear of what is liable to happen, you will eliminate ninety-nine one-hundredths of all the pain suffered in the dental chair. Medicine has never reached this condition. Christian Science is a specific. In my practice with children who have not been continually told about the horrors of dentistry, I very often have them sit in the chair and have nerves extracted and go away without knowing what has been done. This is not an unusual experience in my office, and it is accomplished with the aid of Christian Science. An operator attempting this who believes that pain is bottled up inside the nerve, and that the pain must be launched at the same time the nerve is removed, and who occasionally asks the child if it hurts very much, will find that it does, and that the child suffers greatly. If the profession of dentistry could realize the benefits to be gained by the application of Christian Science, in just this one place, that of allaying the fear of the patient, they would find their work entirely remodeled. I have had splendid results by employing a healer to treat the patient for this fear, and occasionally settle me down a little, for very often the operator's fear is the greater. Far better results are gained since I have understanding sufficient to destroy my own fear. It is a most unusual incident in my office to-day for me to lose any time waiting for my patient to get nerved up. When the patient thinks this a part of the necessary procedure, I spend a moment showing the nothingness of the work in hand, often mentally, sometimes audibly, and am able to proceed at once. I can recall but one patient in the past year where I have lost any time from this cause.
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