Extraction and Reaction

My deep seated fear of dentists comes from an event in my formative years that has left me deeply scared and general afraid of having my teeth prodded or poked in any way. While I was in hospital having my wisdom teeth extracted at the age of 17, I woke up on the operating table. I still have a vivid recollection of blood, my blood, and lots of it, and a general commotion amongst the staff involved. It wasn't for long, seconds rather than minutes, and when I awoke in my hospital bed it seemed rather like a bad dream. My recovery was long and slow, and I've never felt less inspired by professionals since that moment.

I've had the odd brush (no pun intended) with dentistry in the intervening years. Some how I managed to maintain two of my milk teeth and about 10 years ago had to finally loose one of them (I still have the other and he's doing just fine). That called for a visit to a dental chair, and not one that I enjoyed. The pain was long lasting and only served to reinforce my feelings on the subject.

Alongside the physical pain of dental work, there's the financial pain as well. This is something that really grates on me. Don't get me wrong, I fully understand that a trained professional deserves to be remunerated appropriately for their skill and execution of what is really minor surgery. What I don't understand is why we bother getting the NHS involved ? It seems to me that NHS dentistry is a lost cause.

If you can find one (and it's a big if), your friendly NHS dentist will be possibly the most overworked man on the planet. Because the cost of the service is subsidised by the taxpayer (via the government) it's very reasonably priced, and as such in great demand. In fact, in some areas, mine included, demand is so high that the first available appointment may not be for a month. Of course, if it's an emergency, there is a system in place for this too. A special number you call where miraculously they'll find you a dentist. Of course, a pre-requisite for this is that they answer the phone. I'm sure you're starting to understand the frustration. In the end, I've sadly thrown in the towel on the NHS dental system and shelled out the big bucks. There's only so much pain one can take. I did some background research for good local dentists and paid 35 quid to talk to a receptionist. That said, a hour later I was sat in the chair and an hour after that I was back home with a wad of cotton wool in my gums, half a numb face and £100 quid and two teeth lighter.

They were a pleasure to deal with and I think this tiny dentists surgery tucked away a few hundred yards from home might just be the people to restore my faith in the dental profession. I'm sure the fact that they've alleviated my pain is clouding my judgement somewhat, but for now that was the best money I've spent this year.

I've kept the monster tooth, just to scare the kiddies with a Christmas and birthday parties. I might have it mounted.


Take care, and brush your teeth.

This post originally appeared here: Posterous