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Tuesday, 15 April 2008

The Dentist's Chair Calleth

If you’re anything like me, and I don’t mean merely lite, shallow, venal, horrid and lazy, but stingy and cowardly too, then you’ll hate the dentist’s.
But having cracked a bit of tooth, I had to go. I mean, I Had To Go. I am not so totally stupid as to be able to brush that little one under the carpet.
Indeed, in the intervening 36 hours twixt crack on Saturday night and finding myself prone on a diddy up and downy chair yesterday, I had sufficiently enhanced and advanced my cracked tooth via the various stages of necrotising infection merrily through onto, er, death, for my vanity to take a kick up the bits and force me to book an appointment.
I popped a firm fist round my purse and dialled the number.

I remember my dentist fondly. Not so fondly that I ever really went but fond in the abstract: he was a jolly chap stepping in for a friend of his who had been “totalled” on his motorbike. I didn’t ask if he had qualifications because I didn’t want to hear the answers. He was nice and that was fine and he was steady on the equipment, with no wild gleam in the eye on snatching up the drill or revving the syringe.
I had been forced to move by some sort of warped principle, on the occasion of the callow swine at the place I had frequented since childhood forsaking their national health obligations. Hello, we trained the *astards: I was there handing out leaflets on buckle occludals and obfuscation by alphabetical dental naming – to be read as if reciting the football scores, with even rise and fall – even if you weren’t. So I wasn’t going to drive to Bristol, fail to park, and pay top prices when I could do all that here.
And lo, I found one at which I could park, a modern peril sorted, and, more, I was convinced by its shabbiness. Anywhere that can’t afford to change its door mat is my sort of place, I thought: money stays in the patient’s mouth (if not, sob, their wallet) and isn’t gleaming in the form of a shiny Jag slung outside, number plate: 1BITE.

But in the intervening years, things have changed. Just as irons have morphed, so has even the dowdiest dentist’s palace.
E has long sashayed through the doors of an upmarket establishment, mainly funded, thanks to his dental implants, by us. There, 3 dragons studiously ignore the poor ill-toothed, staying slave instead to their space-age headphones. They raise an importunate stilling finger at the luckless wretch hovering at the desk in favour of attending to the needs of the more important person on the other end of the phone. Needless to say when we are on the other end of that phone, we are put on hold. They battle with, supposedly, sub-standard computer programmes, charge a bomb, bugger off early and breathe fire. The children go there too, because there’s a train set and fish tank. We fiddle with the swishy coffee machine and read magazines smothered in suede covers. So I am used to Modern Dentists.

Things have not got so bad, or so typical, at my dentist’s. No fish. But they remain strangers to the idea of fear, they do not laugh in the face of clutched mouths.
We sat on leather armchairs and waited beneath an enormous decorated round mirror.
I considered moving the children here forthwith. Which was when the receptionist muttered something unpleasant about “most dental practices charging between £18 and £33 per child PER BLOODY MONTH.” The potentially dentally-expensive children did not so much as glance up, planning their scuba-diving trips to the Red Sea, “4 star hotel, I think’s best,” said T11; or, F9, busy besting a baby building toy.

Once in the dentist’s lair and semi-upside down, being pumped to the ceiling, like a butterfly sprawled against a pin, but free at least of the children and their strange ideas of amusement, I was forced to take in a most odd sight, being a television clamped to that same ceiling towards which I was jerking north fast. Bless. Entertainment. Pavarotti in silence, but a distracting focus from the suggestion that I get my teeth realigned, “£3,000 I think,” the dentist cooed. “Is good.”
I had dressed up in case I died on the chair, and I think that the hot chick Swedish dentist appreciated my efforts. She pretended that we were the same age, but this was clearly offensive. To her. She packed in some temporary gubbins and held my shoulder kindly.

In all, I was so entranced by the myriad toys, the, yes, artwork, the wooden floors, the travertine tiles in the loo and the French soap and hand cream pumps, all designed to lull you into thinking you’d fallen into some chi-chi little wine bar and might actually be enjoying yourself, that when the bill came, given the surroundings, it almost felt cheap at half the price. A mere couple of bottles of wine, I thought, handing over that poor battered thing, my credit card. T11 barely looked up from his Egypt holiday brochure and F9 sent the baby toy hurtling to the floor AGAIN, and I all but skipped out and bought myself a cheap Phlox as a recovery present.

I’m not saying I’m looking forward to next week’s visit replete with its smorgasbord of x-rays, deep cleaning and real filling, not to say more mention of how I could spend a spare £3,000 I might have hanging around, but let’s say a lot can happen in 168 hours. I could be bombed, or mugged or run over and if none of that lot happens, I’ll just study the artwork and stare at Pavarotti.


Anonymous said...

Dentists - hate the places! Dread going and pray I won't need treatment. I'm such a wuss when it comes to teeth. Great blog, well written as always.

CJ xx

nuttycow said...

Did I hear you right? £3,000? For a chipped tooth? What did you do to it?!!

Milla said...

D'oh! That's for the realignment NC!! (aka invisible braces for grownups.) Yesterday was £22.50 and next week is, well, about 6 times that, can't quite bring self to type full amount.

Fennie said...

I think Purple Coo is beginning to have form with dentists. Perhaps we had better not mention that too loudly, in case they start charging -
"and we charge 10 per cent in addition, if you're a blogger" who knows where you will be rehearsing the story of your teeth. Think of it as insurance." Or maybe they'll make you sign a confidentiality clause, before you go in.

But even with those prices I fancy I am a lot better off than (now expired) MIL who grew up in an age when teeth where 'nowt but trouble' and who had all (yes all) hers removed at the age of 26! Preventive dentistry rules OK.

Personally, I'd rather have no money than no teeth. Still good luck Milla when your 168 hours is up.

Pipany said...

Hmm, am with you on the issue of dentists and want shabbiness by the bucketload when I visit - though not so much that I feel as if I am in a horror movie! Hope the phlox helped xx

Zoë said...

I won't have anything done at the dentists unless they knock me out, I have a very very BIG phobia - stems from having had many of my teeth and my jaw broken when I was 15 in an accident, and having hours and hours of work done without effective pain relief.

I have 11 crowns and a bridge, the dental bills now are outrageous. I wont even begin to explain how much the last trip for a few replacements cost, but the NHS/Dental insurance won't touch me, so it has to be private with the bills that entails.

I really did feel your pain when you said you had done this Milla, I can cope with anything except the Dentist.

Do hope it is more comfortable now.

Frances said...

Hello Milla,
I am so glad that you got that quick appointment, whatever the office decor. Just to have the repair work underway must be a relief. Tooth pain is no joke.

I went to the same dentist for decades (a no frills sort of office.) Imagine my surprise at what happened when he retired. His practice was taken over by a young dentist who charged lots more, also had fish tank, yachting magazines, and huge tv over The Chair that was set on the business cable tv station.

I visited that plush place twice, then switched over to my current lady dentist who shares a practice with another, male, dentist. Their office is very clever in its minimal design (her husband is an architect) and you never have to wait more than five minutes.

Gosh, think I do need to make an appointment!

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Berlimey £3000 to have your teeth realigned and then probably get terrible headaches because your bite is then wrong - not too mention you are in debt for the rest of your dental life . . .

Preseli Mags said...

I have taken the precaution of having my sister trained as a dentist. It saves a fortune on dental fees! It would be even better if she lived closer than Sheffield, but, considering how much I loathe dentists, even related ones, perhaps that's a good thing! Great blog, Milla. I think I'll send a copy to my sister!

Inthemud said...

Great blog Milla!
Not so keen on dentists either, though my cousin is one so mustn't say too much agaianst them.

We still manage to see an NHS dentist, the chair remains the same but the dentist keeps changing! never know who you'll see!

mountainear said...

They could operate out of a card board box provided I Don't Feel A Thing.

Childhood dentist was an absolute butcher - I think he had a hand cranked drill. Would spend more time watcing the weddings at the church next door to the surgery than placating the small wailing and terrified child lying on the 'rack' (moi). Makes me shudder even to think about it.

Does make me look after my teeth though.

Pondside said...

I was terrified of dentists from the time I was 6 years old, when I cried in the chair and the dentist slapped my face. I didn't dare tell my mother as I believed that an adult would only do such as thing is it was warranted and that my parents might punish me further. In consequence, I have taken very good care of my chompers so as not to have more than a cleaning and check-up every six months. When I came to the island 11 years ago I met the BEST dentist ever. He is funny, gentle, believes in maximum sedation, plays great music and has staff that remember one from visit to visit - and have been with him for years and years. Now, while I don't welcome a visit to the dentist, at least I don't dread it. I'm glad that the children are now grown and I can give up that fake cheery 'oh goody, we're going to the dentist and you'll get a new toothbrush and the chance to pick a gift from the treasure chest!' We all know it's never fun - but it can be better than horrid!

ChrisH said...

Puleeese! I'm trying not to think about dentists! After more trouble than I care to remember I managed to find a little gem.... who just after treating me became seriously ill and had to retire. You've reminded me that I have to start looking again (look, if it's that expensive I might have to see if you can get me a part in one of those films you were talking about to finance it - should be worth, oh, about 30p.)

Faith said...

£3,000? You could get the planets realigned for that! I think it's too much by far!#

Love the blog, as always. Chuckled on the dentist number plate. You are the only blogger who makes me laugh out loud!

I have an excellent gentle kind dentist - long may he continue to practice.


Bearing in mind your two blogs below this I mustr ask, is it fair to put the dentist at risk by treating your cracked tooth...I fully expect his surgery to be ambushed by militant flossers or the television to fall on you...do be careful..

Lane said...

I smiled and winced all the way through this.
After mortgaging the dogs last year, I managed to get a couple of teeth fixed. Now have find something else to mortgage to finish the job.
My dentist is Swedish too. Why so many? Ah yes ...tax:-)

Potty Mummy said...

God, THREE GRAND? I was going to get all my teeth straightened for only a little more. Before Husband lost his job, of course. (But really that's just an excuse because I wasn't too keen on the fact it was going to hurt...)

Potty Mummy said...

Have just read your first reply to comments. £3K is now looking much better. Indeed - does this dentist have a branch in central London?

Frog in the Field said...

Milla, how terribly brave you are!
I lie across the curved Dentists chair like a stiff board, I'm terrified.
He chats to me for ages (I nod and say um, umum ) and then says, 'you know Frog, you really have to open your mouth now'!

the mother of this lot said...

Given your track record, a bombing or mugging seems highly likely.

Mean Mom said...

Dentists! When you are lying in the dentist's chair, on your back, do you have an overwhelming desire to 'run for it'? I feel so helpless, like a torture victim. It's only the wrist bindings that keep me in the chair! Then they have the nerve to make us pay for the experience.

I've never had a smiley dentist. At those prices, they should all be laughing, I think.

Edward said...

Lite, shallow, venal, horrid and lazy,cowardly - NO.

Stingy - yes, sometimes. Except, it seems, when it comes to buying Phlox.

Great blog as per. I was in France canoeing when the dear one cracked her tooth, but as I've spent enough to finance several African coups on dentists, I can and do sympathise.

KAREN said...

I haven't been back to the dentist's since my disagreement with the Bossy Receptionist a couple of years ago. They were being all snooty about my refusal to book an appointment for a couple of fillings that I didn't feel I really needed (I don't trust dentists, you see)and I told her quite loudly, in front of a packed waiting room that I simply couldnt't afford it. That what with one thing and another, my teeth were way down on my list of luxuries.
As it's Not Done to talk about money in public, they couldn't get me out of there fast enough.

Ah well. I've still got a full set...at the moment.

CAMILLA said...

Milla, great blog honey. I used to loathe going to the dentist, well I dont relish the idea much either, but my dentist is sweetie, a south african, does not jab the needle in gums like others I used to visit with such voracity.

Have spent a sheer fortune on teeth, and now I find that apparantly my jaw has moved, causing a gap in front of teeth which was not there before, eeek.


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