O Happy Dentist

Counting one’s blessings has been a theme recently. Being thankful for little things, has helped my mood dramatically. Yesterday  was a bit of a blip though.

Being the age I am, I can well remember the terrors of going to the dentist. There was the old, slow drill that vibrated down to the boots of your body, mind and spirit. There never seemed to be adequate pain relief. and to make matters worse, the dentist himself was a little, shuffly, wheezy old man. I am ready to admit that from the point of a 7yr old he could have been in his forties, but in my memory he is still 92. Come to think of it he could even have had some dire illness like Parkinson’s Disease. I digress – let us just agree that my experiences of dental care in the 1940s and 50s were not happy ones.

Now, project yourself forward to 2010. Being of a nervous or unbrave (to be charitable) disposition, to be told that one’s dentist of 13 happy years has left is not pleasant. I leave you to consider the antipathy I was feeling as I announced my arrival at the reception desk in the dental surgery. The nurse behind the counter smiled sympathetically – she obviously knew my fears – and whispered, “He’s very good.”  But all I could think of was the time Son #3 and I went to a new dentist when we moved to Kilmarnock. The said dentist looked about 14. Really – 14! And he definitely shook more than me. Duly collected by the nurse I made my faltering steps into the usual treatment room, resigned to my fate; after all it was too late to run away now.

What a pleasant surprise. OK he looked young , from my point of years. But we shook hands, made eye-contact and I concentrated on not gabbling like an idiot. (Nervousness makes me babble a lot and look vaguely hunted and hysterical.) There was no need to worry. He was obviously experienced and competent; even better, he inspired confidence. I started to relax and listened to his tales of patients refusing to see him because they were so used to the previous dental star. “Really?” said I, feigning innocence. Unfortunately when we got to the scraping and cleaning my lower jaw developed a life of its own and wobbled alarmingly. I put up my left hand (he did say raise the left not the right didn’t he?) and explained it was involuntary. He smiled and said it was perfectly normal.

Whew….. after that the new digital computerised x-ray machine was a welcome relief. And blessings of the day…… the most welcome sound “I’ll see you in six months.”

Wonderful – and no need to be nervous; at least not much.

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11 Responses to O Happy Dentist

  1. Tabor says:

    I never use to fear or dread dental or doctors visits. I was one of those brave soldiers who just wanted to get it over and get on to the next challenge. Now as I have aged, it is a very different story. I don’t want to endure any pain, invasion of privacy or bad news. And, at my age, I am pretty sure to get at least two out of three.

  2. freda says:

    Thanks, Tabor, I agree with you. When we age things get more difficult rather than less. But learning to cope with bad news is probably more likely too.

  3. Suem says:

    I developed fear of the dentist about ten years ago after never having been particularly bothered. I don’t know why, perhaps a particularly painful filling or something triggered it?
    At least it is an incentive to look after your teeth…

  4. Bill says:

    My dentist does have painless service but I am still just a little nervous about going. Not sure really why as not much else bothers me.
    Had to stop by and say hello after reading the nice comment you left on my blog, Dying man’s Daily Journal.
    I do hope to hear more from you

  5. Mina says:

    My early memories of being at the dentist were of a sweet ‘old’ man who used to bribe children with the promise of 3pence for an ice cream cone if he was going to do something nasty! It worked then, but like most people of our age group I required major dental work somwhere between my 40s and 50s but there was no bribe of a cone. At that time I too developed a dread of all dentists till I found the gem I now attend. I wonder if now in my 60s I have developed a new strength or perhaps dentists have had training in calming the patient.

  6. freda says:

    Thanks for visiting the blog, Bill, I am certainly keeping up with your thoughts and I hope you don’t mind the odd comment every now and then.

  7. freda says:

    Suem, you’re absolutely right about taking care of our teeth. I try to do my best but somehow it is too easy to say at night, “I’ll floss in the morning,” then come morning it is “I WILL floss at night.”

    Mina, Hope your gem of a dentist continues to look after your teeth for a long while.

  8. lc says:

    Two weeks ago I visited the “youngster” who replaced my dentist of 39 years. I, too, found him personable and competent. Your description of yourself in the throes of nervousness gave me a good laugh. I can relate! Congratulations on good report.

  9. Rev Ruth says:

    I used to love going to the dentist and was also known as the person who was so relaxed she fell asleep mid-drill and had to be reminded to keep her mouth open. i think I was just lucky with a really good dentists as a child and adult. Then when I moved to Linlithgow I had a series of children dentists (all women) who were delightful and chatty about love lives and make-up. However, one dodgy dentist by the name of Pedro has made me much more wary… but he was ever so handsome. Now I have another youngster who is scarily efficient but will stop whenever there is pain and shove in more numbing stuff.

  10. freda says:

    Reminds me of a cousin of HBTW, he was a busy GP and one day he fell asleep in the dentist’s chair. The dentist was so sorry for him being tired that he switched to the other, (fortuitously) empty surgery and carried on seeing the rest of his patients. Knowing the cousin, it could have been an apocryphal story, but with my history of dentists it amused me in far off days. I did think of trying to look into my new dentist’s eyes, but gave up when all I could see were his nostrils!

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