Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The Dreaded Dentist

I absolutely hate going to the dentist – I’m actually a complete coward when it comes to taking my place in the dentist’s chair.

When an appointment is looming, I start to worry and get filled with dread. It’s not so much the thought of any procedure being painful (even though I don’t respond well to local anaesthetic and sometimes need a double dose); it’s more the feeling of not being in control of the situation.

It didn’t seem as bad in the days when dentists used more upright chairs, but as I have had to start taking up a more horizontal position, I’ve had the increasing sensation of being ‘helpless’.

Add to this the amount of instruments that may be placed in my mouth at any one time, the dental nurse getting a tad overzealous with the suction catheter (oops, there go my tongue and half my cheek), my horrendously sensitive gagging reflex (OK, too much information) and the sweltering light aimed at my face, as if I’m about to undergo interrogation, I can safely say a trip to the dentist is my most hated experience!

Don’t get me wrong; my dentist is a lovely man, patient with me despite my more shaky moments, and very good at his job. But let’s face it; we should all be really grateful to have dentists at all, rather than have to endure our teeth rotting painfully away.

Throughout the Middle Ages and right up to and including the 19th Century, there were no official dentists. Barbers and general physicians pulled out teeth, without the use of pain relief or anaesthetic, and oral hygiene was dire. There certainly weren’t any toothpastes available, so people just chewed on herbs or even ‘cleaned’ their teeth with sugar!

I’ve read that in some cases it may be possible to replace the use of drills in dentistry with lasers. In addition to lasers only being suitable for certain treatments, the equipment involved would prove very costly, so it’s probably not something the average NHS dentist is likely to use any time soon.

I dream of the day when a trip to the dentist will purely involve waving an implement resembling the sonic screwdriver from the set of Dr Who in front of my face, instantly solving any dental problems that I have. How lovely that would be!

Who knows? If much of the anxiety about using the dentist was removed, we may actually talk to each other in the waiting room!

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