ONE OF the first students I ever had was an oral surgeon of marked ability. He had studied with me for just a few weeks when he began to report oral surgery done with hypnosis as the only anesthesia. He was adept in the use of nitrous oxide, but told me he seldom had to use it any more; and when he did use it, it was in limited amounts. Instead, he reported that he was using "the best anesthesia in the world—and the safest—hypnotic anesthesia."
Here are this doctor's words, recorded after he had studied hypnosis for only three weeks:
"I had a patient in the office and was going to remove a horizontally impacted third molar—an operation that usually takes a while. I gave the usual suggestion for anesthesia and made the initial incision. Then an incision over the ridge and an incision down. I chiseled the bone and removed the tooth. I roused the patient and asked her if she felt anything at all. She asked me when I was going to take out the tooth. It had already been taken out. I did the suturing afterwards. She felt nothing and was happy about the whole thing."
Another doctor who saw this work being done added the comment, "I don't think the doctor mentioned that salivation was down to a minimum and blood flow was negligible."
Continuing, the oral surgeon said, "During the suturing process, I gave her the suggestion that she open her mouth wide and couldn't close it. I suggested that she would have no postoperative discomfort. When I roused her I asked her how she felt. She said, 'Fine.'" I am quoting this report to let you know how quickly a good student can put hypnosis to work for extensive dental procedure.
Dentists use hypnosis primarily for analgesia and anesthesia. They use it for extensive surgical procedures. Hypnotic anesthesia can be obtained instantaneously if you know how to do it. Too many dentists are under the impression that it takes a long time to attain a usable anesthesia by the hypnotic process. They have become accustomed to old-fashioned techniques and they don't realize modern professional techniques are available. They don't believe instantaneous anesthesia is possible.
I have heard dentists say, before they became acquainted with modern techniques, "I took a course in hypnosis. The doctor who taught me even came to my office to work with my patients; and it takes three or four conditioning visits before the patient can be treated by hypnosis."
This is utter nonsense. An unconditioned patient can be given hypnotic anesthesia faster than it can be obtained with novocaine or xylocaine.
There are certain situations in dentistry in which hypnosis is indicated; and in my estimation, far greater than its value as an anesthetic is its value in correcting these situations.
Bruxism—the gnashing of teeth at night or in the daytime—is sufficient to cause destruction of the mouth structure. If you ask the average dentist if he has ever been able to treat a case of bruxism successfully he will say, "No. It can't be done." He will explain that he builds up the mouth structure again with the full knowledge that later on the same patient will be troubled with the same condition, and further rehabilitation work will be necessary. He will admit that he has never been able to correct the condition permanently.
Certainly the correction of bruxism is well within the dentist's province, for it directly concerns the teeth and the mouth structure and damage done to the teeth and the mouth structure. This is the type of problem that can be helped by hypnosis; I have talked to thousands of dentists about it and not one of them has ever said that he had turned a case of bruxism over to a psychiatrist.
If hypnoanalysis is used in these cases, the dentist may be able to correct the condition permanently by locating the cause. However, most dentists shy away from the use of hypnoanalysis as if it were poison instead of another tool. The following case histories show how bruxism is corrected through the use of hypnoanalysis by an adept dentist. Not many dentists yet use hypnoanalysis, but those who do find it extremely valuable. Judge for yourself:
"Mrs. T.—age 55: Diagnosed by a psysician as tic douloureux. I believe the trouble was due to temporomandibular joint referred pain. Under hypnoanalysis, it developed that thirty years ago, while standing on the corner of Hollywood and Vine, she first bruxated. She was waiting for her husband, to whom she had been married for three months. Already she knew that he was seeing other women and that her marriage was doomed ... No recurrence of the pain in two years—elapsed time, twenty minutes."
"Mrs. R.—age 35: Severe case of bruxism with lower anteriors worn off halfway down to the gingiva. Under hypnoanalysis, it developed that she first ground her teeth as a teen-ager when her father, of whom she was extremely fond, became ill. Habit had persisted over the years when any member of the family became ill. Half-hour session."
These reports were sent to me by J. Stadden Miller, DDS, a student in California.
Occasionally a dentist will bring a patient to class whom he has been unable to handle. I would like to give you an instance.
A dentist told me he had a teen-age patient who really wasn't a patient. He had been treating this girl's family for years, and she had been brought to him repeatedly for treatment, but he had never been able to do five minutes' work on her. Considerable work was necessary; the patient had several decayed teeth, crooked teeth, etc. But the prospect of letting the dentist put instruments in her mouth caused such panic that correction was impossible.
The dentist brought this patient and her parents to class in the hope that we could find out what the difficulty was and be able to pave the way for the dental work to be done. She sat in that meeting room between her parents, quietly watching us work with other patients. Then, suddenly, she began to cry. My wife took her out of the room and tried to calm her down. The girl volunteered the information that she was crying because soon it would be her turn to be worked with and she was frightened. When my wife assured her there was no reason for her to be afraid because all that would be done was to talk with her, she said, "I don't believe that. Somehow, they'll fool me and start putting dental instruments into my mouth, and I don't want that no matter what."
My wife explained to her that we didn't make promises we didn't keep and that no dental work of any kind would be done in that room; no dental instrument would be put into her mouth unless she herself asked for it, and that at any time, in the midst of the interview, she herself could terminate it. She asked my wife to stay by her side while the interview was going on. They returned to the room and the young lady offered to come up for hypnoanalysis.
Hypnoanalysis revealed that when she was about five years old one of her kindergarten classmates told her she had just been to the dentist and gave her the gory details. She said the dentist had fooled her by telling her that nothing would be done, and that he then put a big knife into her mouth and cut her gums. She also added how terribly it hurt.
This classmate had so terrified her that she decided she would never allow that to happen to her.
Now we had the cause of her panic, but our work wasn't quite done. Under hypnosis we convinced this girl that no one was going to fool her, that some dental work could be done without hurting her, etc. I was delighted when the dentist returned to class the following week and told us that this young lady had been to his office, and he had done the first dental work for her that she had ever had done. There were no tears, no hysterics, and she was actually looking forward to the time when the decayed teeth would be removed and her appearance improved. This is another way in which the dentist can use hypnosis: to relieve panic and fear.
What about the patient who complains that the upper denture bums but not the lower denture? According to the dentist there should be no difference; he has done everything in his power to fit both dentures correctly, and yet the patient insists he can wear the lower denture, but not the upper. These patients often go from dentist to dentist seeking help and registering the same complaint with each of them. Hypnosis can help these patients. And speaking of dentures, here's a case that came to light in one of our midwest classes:
A female patient in her fifties, was brought to class by her dentist. The problem was her dentures—both upper and lower; they hurt. The dentist who brought her to class was the last of several dentists she had been to with this same problem. She said, "All the dentists I have been to have told me the dentures are perfect and that I should be able to wear them without any difficulty. In fact, I had more than one set made, but that didn't help either. It's easy for the dentist to say they fit perfectly; all I know is that they hurt so badly I just can't wear them."
Hypnoanalysis revealed that this lady had been happily married for over twenty-five years. When her teeth started troubling her and the dentist suggested dentures, she discussed this with her husband. He said to her, "I'm sure that's a good idea because for the past several years your teeth have been getting worse and worse, and it will be nice when you get those dentures to see that your smile is as lovely as it used to be."
And so she had the dentures made. She had been wearing them comfortably for about a week when her husband died of a heart attack. It was the morning of the funeral and when she was dressed she started to put in her dentures and this sad thought flashed into her mind, "He'll never see that lovely smile. Now that he's gone I have no one to smile for. I certainly don't need dentures any more." Despite this thought, she did wear the dentures and by the time she returned from the funeral the pain in her mouth was unbearable. From that time on she was unable to wear the dentures without pain.
After the hypnoanalysis we discussed our findings with her quite thoroughly and she said, "Yes, I remember feeling that way. Nothing seemed worthwhile without him. It's three years since that happened and I realize, of course, that life must go on. He wouldn't want me to go around with an unattractive smile, or with a sore mouth, either, for that matter. I never realized the connection until now." From then on she was able to wear the dentures in complete comfort.
Because there are other illustrations of dental cases in this book, I think the illustrations given above will be sufficient to convince the average dentist that hypnosis has far more uses than dental anesthesia alone. The cases cited are not exceptional. Dentists are constantly confronted by patients who have neurotic dental problems. In preparing this chapter, I wrote to my dental students, asking them to report interesting dental problems they have been able to solve through hypnotic techniques. Here are a few of the many reports I have received:
Report 1: "The thing which amazes me is the ability of so many people to produce a hypnotic hemostasis [by means of hypnosis]. Before being aware of the use of this, I had many calls at night regarding postoperative bleeding. This has been cut to a very few and often I can suggest that the bleeding will be stopped with relaxation. One university student gained such complete hemostasis that I had to suggest that he allow some bleeding in the socket after extraction of an upper central incisor. When he let the bleeding go, only a ring of blood at the gingival margin occurred, and the bone in the socket showed no bleeding. Later, when I asked him to, he produced the usual bleeding from the apex of the socket. It is very gratifying to be able to hand a patient a mirror and let him see his new bridge or denture which has been placed directly after extraction, and know that there will be no unsightly bleeding. Recovery also seems more prompt and less eventful."
Report 2: "A woman patient, for whom I had inserted an immediate upper denture about a year ago, brought her son in for an appointment. She was not wearing the denture, and explained that she was pregnant and the denture caused her to gag. I put her into somnambulism and gave her the appropriate posthypnotic suggestions. The entire procedure took less than fifteen minutes. The result reported on subsequent visits was entirely satisfactory."
Report 3: "I was having difficulty with two orthodontic cases where the patients would, through bruxism, break the ligating wires before the next appointment. Through hypnotic suggestion, this was discontinued, with much more rapid progress as a consequence."
Report 4: "We use hypnosis in one form or other in so many ways it is hard to pin-point them. First of all, we use it to keep control of our own self, to stay relaxed so we can handle the problems we see. We dispell fears of our patients so that instead of dreading to come to see us, they look forward to it. We control postoperative bleeding, pain, swelling, and [we] promote healing with suggestion. We remove teeth without our patients even knowing they are out in probably 85 to 90 percent of our cases, and administer local anesthesia via injection with probably a like percentage of our patients not even knowing we have a needle in our office. With our children we use our 'magic sleepy medicine.'"
Report 5: "I had started a large session of surgery on the lower jaw of a patient. We were taking out several teeth and doing an alveolectomy, and our chemical anesthesia failed. We were able, with the use of somnambulism only, to get sufficient anesthesia to complete the required surgery and to teach the patient to be relaxed and less nervous for future work."
Report 6: "An eleven-year-old girl had knocked out two front teeth in a swimming pool accident. I didn't see the patient until some four hours after the accident. After preliminary examination at the patient's home, I brought the two teeth to my office and did root canals upon them preparing them for reimplantation, putting orthodontic bands on the teeth, and then brought the patient to the office to continue the procedure. This was now some six to eight hours after the accident. A normal blood supply to an accident area gives the best possible chance of healing, and this also applies to reimplantation of teeth. The vasoconstrictor in the chemical anesthesia reduces the blood supply in an area for from four to six hours, and therefore I did not want to use chemical anesthesia. I put the patient into the somnambulistic state. The patient cried out in protest of the cur-rettement of the socket and the force necessary to force the reimplanted teeth to place in the socket. Afterwards the patient was quite placid and we were able to complete the ligation of these teeth to an archwire and the orthodontic bands which had been placed on the devital teeth and on the teeth on either side. The patient recalls little discomfort at the time of reimplantation. I feel that without the use of the vasoconstrictor in the chemical anesthesia, I have had a better chance of succeeding with the implantation of these teeth. It was also possible for me to avoid injecting already very painfully bruised tissue, ordinarily a very uncomfortable sensation."
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These techniques will work for stage hypnosis or hypnotherapy, however, they are taught here for information purposes only. After reading this book you will have the knowledge and ability necessary to hypnotise people, but please do not practice hypnosis without first undergoing more intensive study.