Thursday, February 14, 2008


Arabella suggested that I should post about my recent change of dentist.

Well, as you probably know, I'm something of a social phobic, so anything that means I have to change my usual habits and fraternise with new people leads to all sorts of panic about impending catastrophe. Fair enough, it's beyond straightforward shyness, and means my mind tends to blow any *challenge* out of proportion to what will actually happen. I'm a mentalist: aren't all bloggers mentalists?

"Stepping out of your comfort zone" is believed to be a good thing in the modern world, but stepping outside my comfort zone turns me into a nervous wreck.

The dentist I've been visiting for the past ten years or so seems to be losing his marbles. He only does about two hours work a year, and goes off on holidays to India for six months at a time. He can't seem to do his job properly.

So it was decreed that we should change practices.

Cue impending panic, tsunami-like waves of fear and endless worry about possible potential for embarrassment, bad social interaction, coming across as an idiot to people I've never met before, etc., etc.

I now attend a modern *centre* where there's a nice garden, a state of the art surgery and a bright, airy, clean reception area with a flat screen TV showing property programmes all day.

I'm starting to pine for the old surgery's grottiness. The dusty box full of manky kiddies' toys, the dog eared 1995 copies of Reader's Digest, the wonky old telly with the blurred coverage of This Morning and the general air of gloom. Besides, it was always interesting to see what the receptionist had done with her long, shiny, burgundy coloured hair. Would she be wearing it up? Down? With a few fronds over on one side? She always used to make such a statement with her earrings and clothes too - the more tasteful end of Essex woman style, probably bought from those boutiques in Bl*water ... such a waste of effort for such a dreary job.

Still, the dental check at the new surgery lasted a few seconds, much to my relief.

... except that I will be expected to see a dental hygienist next week. Apparently, I have gum disease, and there's a possibility that I'll need to see the hygienist for another appointment after that. Each visit will cost £38.

Geoff saw the hygienist, who has basically ordered him to buy an electric toothbrush. On average, the cheapest ones cost around £25, plus the heads have to be replaced every few months (£15 a time) and they have to re-charge all day.

We now have to devote most of our income to appeasing the new dental surgery.

I prefer the laissez-faire approach of the old dentist. It's never been my aim in life to have teeth like The Bee Gees. Teeth like David Bowie I can just about cope with.

Besides which, it looks as if I'm going to have to step outside my comfort zone for ever and ever, on a regular basis. It's the quickest route to a nervous breakdown I can think of ...

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Oooh first comment. Yeah, I think all us Bloggers are mentalists. But then again, I think most people are mentalists. We're just making a virtue of it.

I've always found Dentists are a bit creepy. I like my dentist, but still, there's an overarching air of torture. The cleaner and more clinical the surgery, the more uneasy it makes me...
My brother in law (all 6"2' and 14 stone of him) is a dental phobic and has to be given mesmerizing drugs before he submits to the drill.

My new dentist is a German called Ulrich who rides a Harley. I hope he doesn't wear lederhosen in the surgery. That would be most off putting.
I too am severely dental phobic. General anaesthetic to even get to the dentist would be my preferred option. It is a daily worry. Awful.

Re: Geoff's brush dilemma - you don't need to spend £25 on a brush - these Colgate Microsonic ones are brilliant - about £3.99. I got mine from the supermarket.
There now, aren't you glad you did that?
You've inspired me to relegate the post about soiled mattresses that's been languishing over at mine since January and brighten things up with an account of my own trip to the dentist (a Norwegian) which left me with a wonky jaw for two weeks.

I know it doesn't do to look on the br...t side but...no drilling Betty! No drilling!
BTW - I'm not sure electric brushing is more effective than the old fashioned thorough kind. So Geoff could save the money and buy a pound bag of Bird's chocolate-covered toffees instead.
Is that David Bowie before or after?
Hmmm. I think this hygienist business is a bit of a stitch-up.

The dentists themselves can do a scale and polish, it's one of the services we are supposed to be provided with for free on the NHS and you shouldn't have to pay a hygienist for it as a private service.

(I know this because my ex-flatmate worked as a press officer for the Department of Health and was most militant about patients' rights.)

Workshy lazy bastards, dentists... If, that is, you can be arsed to look into it...

Dentists always moan at you and make you feel guilty, but they never admit that teeth are just really badly designed.
Del - perhaps bloggers don't mind admitting to our mentalist tendencies because we don't have to face the people we're confessing to. Hah!

Usually I've gone to fairly grotty dental practices in the past, which I'm more comfortable with. The popularity of medical centres, which are more modern and clean looking, is a bit worrying.

Garfer - I'm not actually afraid of dentists and haven't really undergone any sort of pain in a dental surgery. My old dentist in The Midlands was known as The Butcher, but I wasn't afraid of him. Perhaps I have a high pain threshold.

A dentist in lederhosen ... how horrible. By the time you'd gone under with the gas you'd be dreaming about Bavarian dancing teams and big jugs of foaming lager.

RoMo - there you go, you're afraid of dentists, I'm afraid of human beings! Such is the variety of life.

Geoff's already bought the electric toothbrush (Oral B) so I hope things work out alright with it. He hasn't even been diagnosed with gum disease like me. I may have to resort to using a Black & Decker instead.

Arabella - difficult to tell who sounds more menacing, your Norwegian dentist or Garfer's lederhosen clad German dentist.

I'm glad I didn't have any fillings (haven't for some years actually) but the gum disease could be the thin end of the wedge if they start telling me what I can/can't eat or drink, and issue gloomy warnings of my impending need for dentures, just to frighten me into paying for more treatment. The Bird's chocolate covered tofees should pull all my fillings out, at any rate, and I can start with a clean slate.

Kaz - not after, at any rate. I'm not quite up to his old standards, but I'm getting that way, even though I've never smoked. Must be all the tea and red wine. I've always found David's old wonky teeth very alluring because I am a pervert.
Annie - I have the feeling that's a bit of a stitch up as well. The hygienist even recommended a particular Braun toothbrush to Geoff (hmm ...)

It's so difficult to be an NHS patient anywhere now of course which means you're at the mercy of huge variations in charges. One dentist told Geoff he had to have £200 worth of root canal work and another said it wouldn't be necessary.

I've been issued with grim advice before about the fact that I shouldn't drink anything but water or eat any fruit because I'd end up with teeth ground down to the gums before I got to forty. Nothing like that happened, even though I ignored the warnings.
Dentists have the highest suicide rate of any profession.

I suppose they spend a fair amount of time looking down in the mouth.
Murph - Geoff read that and said "that's a good pun from Murph, the bastard". Jealousy, eh? He doesn't like to be outpunned.
I remember when Don Rickles told Johnny Carson that he had just met David Bowie backstage in the Green Room.

He said, "I didn't know whether to kiss him or give him a lump of sugar!"
LT - I wonder if he's every met Dave Grohl?
Don't waste money on things you don't need. 'Gum disease' usually means you aren't brushing your gums properly. You don't need to pay 38 pounds to be told that. Get an electric toothbrush if you want to (sounds like someone was giving good advice on a toothbrush before). Remember your gums when you're brushing your teeth. Brush the gums gently and carefully (too hard will also hurt your gums), but be thorough. Tilt the brush to get in where the teeth meet the gums. Don't rush it. Use that time to think about/plan your day so that the time passes without you noticing too much.

Then, if you like, make one appointment with the dental hygienist for a month from now, maybe six weeks, and let them tell you how your gums look then. You can find out all you need to know about proper brushing/flossing on the internet - pay them for the things you can't do by yourself, not for the things you can.
We British have a duty to have bad teeth.
The Americans expect it of us.
But by that logic, Willie, Americans have a duty to be incapable of irony, or walking.
Chosha -I've got the follow up appointment in a couple of days, so I shall see what happens then. I'm certainly not getting involved in forking out for continuous treatment. Who knows how much of an improvement I'm going to see anyway? Perhaps I'm beyond help!

Willie - too true. They are so disappointed when they find out that most British people don't live in stately homes or wear tweed plus fours. Why shatter even more of their dreams?

Tim - Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan aren't capable of irony, or walking.
It was nigh impossible to get appointments with my old dentist as he was always "on a course". One day my dad was playing golf with business associates and discovered exactly what sort of course the layabout dentist was on.

Next time we tried to get an appointment and got the "on a course" excuse mum reeled off a list of golf courses and asked which one. We didn't have too many problems after that.
Llewtrah - my dentist in The Midlands managed to retire at about fifty, living up to the "work to live rather than live to work" reputation. I think he managed to make loads of money from giving everybody fillings they didn't need (me included).
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