It is a truth universally acknowledged that most people don’t want to go to the dentist. It is also true there is nothing worse than toothache, so there are occasions when you may be glad to visit. Another mystery is why anyone would want to BE a dentist, but that’s for another blog (perhaps a blogging dentist.)
Dental tales abound among three groups of people; those who never go to the dentist, those who will travel miles to visit the one and only dentist they trust in the whole world and those who change dentists as often as their clothes. The last group doesn’t always reflect on the dentist; how many of us put off going for a check up, then are too embarrassed to face our dentist; you can’t fake it for he will look up his records…
‘Sorry I missed my last check up.’
‘It’s actually eight years since you were last here…’
So we seek out a new dentist who must go through the whole procedure – dictating to his assistant in a strange language.
4 upper missing, 6 right lower decay, front left 7 amalgam, back lower 15 gold crown…
Just put this sharp piece of plastic in your mouth so we can take an XRay… and the other side, open even wider for this extra large piece of plastic. Okay, that’s all for today
Sigh of relief.
Make an appointment for next week for three fillings and a three hour appointment in a fortnight to remove those four teeth…
I knew someone who would ring round dentists asking ‘Do you knock people out?’
The answer is usually No as dentists do not want to be responsible for a patient dying under general anaesthetic.
My frequent attendance at dentists as a child was through no fault of my parents, except genetically. I was not allowed to have ice lollies, only ice cream, sweets carefully rationed. It was the orthodontist I had to visit at nine years old. At the time it was thought it was necessary to act quickly before it was too late, but nowadays plenty of adults have their teeth straightened and braces are an accessory.
I had teeth too large and too many to fit in my mouth; nearly a dozen first and second teeth had to be removed to give the remaining teeth room to grow straight. In those days cocaine was something injected into your gum at the dentist, the local anaesthetic. There was also gas, general anaesthetic. I sampled both, how it was decided I don’t know; I recall gas required the dentist to have a doctor present. The first time I was to have gas I walked into the room and was horrified to see a huge tank with a large skull and cross bones on. My first sensation on waking up was feeling the dentist was trying to yank my mouth open.
In between all this I wore a single wire on my teeth, a removable plate. Visits to the orthodontist were to tighten the wire, a cause for aching mouth during the night, but probably not as sore as after tooth extraction.
Why do we have such fear of dentists? People unlucky with ill health or accident have surely endured much worse suffering. Perhaps it is because it is our head, an intrusion into the part of our body we need for speaking and more vitally, breathing. We can’t talk or protest. I’ve had three caesareans and two carpal tunnel operations awake; lying helpless in the dentist’s chair is definitely more daunting.
But don’t be scared, it’s not really that bad. A handy hint; the older the building, the narrower the wooden staircase, the higher up the winding stairs you go, the better the dentist. My current dentist is in an edgy part of town, a nice young man at the very top of the building, unlike my previous dentist he discusses everything with you first. I had a tooth out on Monday, it’s not fun having the first needle go in, but better than the alternative! Luckily he asked if I could still feel anything – YES – so he gave me a third shot.
Tell us your best – or worst dental story.