Cultivating a “Chairside Manner”: Dental Hypnosis, Patient Management Psychology, and the Origins of Behavioral Dentistry in America, 1890–1910


  • John M. Andrick


Discussions regarding the use of hypnotism in dentistry featured prominently in dental journals and society proceedings during the decades around the turn of the twentieth century. Many dentists used hypnotic suggestion either as the sole anesthetic for extractions or in conjunction with local and general anesthetics for excavation and cavity filling. With the heralding of humanitarian dentistry and improved local anesthesia around 1905, a number of dentists advocated using suggestion psychology to calm nervous patients and increase their comfort and satisfaction levels while undergoing dental procedures. The practice of hypnotic suggestion with local and general anesthesia in providing patients with increasingly painless procedures constituted the earliest variety of behavioral dentistry, a discipline not fully developed until the closing decades of the twentieth century. Hypnosis and suggestion became driving forces for psychological applications in the formative years of behavioral dentistry.