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.

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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.

So-called diseases of the teeth, from the standpoint of the dentist who is a Christian Scientist, are not only more quickly met than in the old way, but when met this is the end of them, as there is no recurrence when once obliterated through Christian Science. An abscessed tooth is handled on the basis of cleanliness, not of disease. The roots are thoroughly cleansed. If I can accomplish this with pure water, it is done so. If it needs a little soap to clean them perfectly, I use it. Then I close the tooth with a filling to retain it in this clean condition. Any physician or surgeon will tell you that he is unable to heal a wound with any of his remedies, but that he simply cleans up the part and nature does the rest. Of course from his standpoint, he thinks nature needs a great deal of assistance. From the Christian Science standpoint, the less nature is assisted, the better and surer the result.

I have very often in my experience, when treating a tooth, been unable to accomplish the result desired, and after working days and possibly weeks, have sent the patient home and told her to leave it absolutely alone for a month, and upon her return I would find the tooth well. This result is accomplished with the aid of Christian Science without this waiting.

Patients continually ask me whether it does not handicap them in making a higher demonstration to have a tooth filled. This, I cannot answer. For me, to-day it seems to be more sensible to close a cavity in a tooth with a mechanical operation than to allow it to remain open for the food to pack into and decay, causing me to demonstrate over a foul breath as well as pain; but I am continually saying to my patrons, "If this does not seem best to you, go and work out the problem for yourself. I have nothing better that I can offer you to-day; but I know that the day will come when, if I do my work right, I shall have."

I have noticed a wonderful improvement in the teeth of Scientists over all others. A mechanical operation in their mouths seems to hold longer and better and gives better satisfaction all the time. Scientists know why this is, for it is not only true of the teeth, but of everything else.

I might cite a few instances of the power of Truth in the practice of dentistry that have come under my observation.

About a year ago, a lady from out of the city desired to have all her remaining lower teeth extracted. Fearing the pain, she had a healer treat her while the teeth were taken out. When I came to one of the front teeth, I found that it was attached to two others by a very heavy coating of tartar, and the process bone surrounding all three teeth seemed to be loosened. It was necessary for me to dissect away the soft tissues from about this segment and remove the bone and three teeth together. This took some few minutes, probably ten to twelve. In doing so, I cut one of the small arteries, causing the blood to spurt out three or four feet. The operation completed, I told the healer that the flow of blood was excessive, and asked if I should ligate the artery. He said he would meet it mentally, which he did; and in less than twenty minutes all bleeding had stopped, and the patient left the office remarking that she was surprised beyond measure in that she had suffered no pain. This was rather a serious little operation, and when the patient first came into the office she was very much worried over the anticipation of it. Without Christian Science, this work would have been impossible, except under systemic anaesthesia.

A case of chronic abscess of a molar, caused by a hole being drilled through the side of the roof. The tooth was so sore all the time that the slightest pressure was painful. Extraction seemed necessary, as the hole had been closed so many times, and on account of the irritation caused, had to be re-opened almost immediately, that permanent closure seemed impossible. As a last resort, the tooth was filled in the same manner as would have been employed if it had been one of the best in the mouth. The case was turned over to a Scientist for treatment. For a few days the old swelling and soreness appeared, which was met quickly. The tooth is to-day, and has been for over two years, one of the best in the patient's mouth. This operation having failed a number of times under ordinary treatment, Christian Science must be given the credit for saving the tooth.

A case of fracture. A bicuspid tooth, filled on both sides, was split in two places. Extraction supposed to be the only relief. The tooth was wired together, a cap made and set over it, cementing the two halves together. Christian Science treatment prevented any soreness. Case the same to-day as over two years ago when completed.

A case of loose teeth. Tartar had been allowed to accumulate to that extent that the roots of the teeth stood out of the gums over half their length. A discharge of matter exuding from the gums, a so-called incurable disease—Pyorrea Alveolaris. Seemingly, the teeth must come out. Very carefully the tartar was removed and Christian Science treatment resorted to. The teeth have given over two years splendid service, and are more firm in their sockets to-day than when the case first presented itself.

I tersely cite the above cases as examples of the extent to which Christian Science is used by me in my practice, and refer only to unusual cases, and those whose healing was some time ago. Christian Science is just as effective in the simple cases of every day's work, with which we are coming in contact. Relief from worry, irritability, etc., is one of the first benefits to be obtained from the practice of Christian Science.

How many dentists need this to-day! I am thoroughly convinced that a small understanding of Christian Science by the dentists of the world will do more toward eliminating the pain of dental operations than all drugs, or systems of hot air, electricity, and their like, combined.

Christian Science Heals and Satisfies
November 2, 1899

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