A friend told me recently that she is terrified of going to the dentist and has to pluck up courage even to phone to make an appointment.
I have lived in three different parts of the country and have had several different dentists and despite some pretty dreadful experiences I still go regularly to my present dentist.
As a child I was taken regularly to the dentist and he was absolutely super. I shall call him Mr B because I might be saying some uncomplimentary things about some other dentists. The trouble with Mr B was that he overbooked and sometimes you waited hours (really!) to see him. I was in my early teens when he got an assistant, Mr A, to help him. Mr A was extremely handsome, but he had enormous hands. All our family was transferred to him. We got the impression that Mr B kept all his wealthy clients to himself. None of us was all that keen on Mr A, but, at least you didn’t have to wait so long to see him.
When I was sixteen I went after school for an appointment with Mr A. I can’t remember now what I was having done, but my mouth was packed with padding and something trickled down the back of my throat. I started to splutter and thought I was going to choke. Mr A, with one of his enormous hands, took hold of my lower jaw and pushing me back in the chair told me to stop it. Of course I couldn’t! I thought I would pass out and just before I did Mr B rushed in, having heard what was going on. He pulled everything out of my mouth, sat me up and made sure I was all right. Mr A tried to blame me for not sitting still. Mr B told him that he’d treated me for years and I was a model patient. He really ticked Mr A off and pointed out I might have choked to death! At that point I should have asked to be put back on Mr B’s list, but I didn’t. I stuck with Mr A until I got married and although I was still living in Dundee I changed to my husband’s dentist, Mr W. He was another excellent dentist and vowed that any dentist worth his salt should be able to fill a tooth without giving an injection and without causing the patient a lot of pain. I never did have an injection from him for a filling.
One day I went to see him and I was the last patient of the day. He decided I need an extraction. This was to be the first awful experience of my having a tooth extracted from my lower jaw. It took ages. I can’t remember how long, but the tooth wouldn’t budge. It turned out that the roots of my lower teeth were wound round my jaw bone. I went home in a state of collapse. On my next visit the receptionist asked me what had been going on. “When I came in the surgery was splattered with blood. I thought he’d murdered someone”. Mr W told me he never thought of patients once they were out of the surgery, but he had thought of me, thinking I must have been in agony. He told me I’d have to go to hospital if I needed any further extractions from my lower jaw.
Not long after this we moved to Abingdon. By this time I had three children. I made an appointment with a local dentist, Mr D. He was a funny, nervous, little man, but it was his wife, the receptionist who really put me off. I arrived with my three children for our appointment at 3.45. She shouted at me that the appointment was 4.15 and we had come too early. She was really quite nasty. I was sure the appointment was 3.45 and when she checked in the diary she discovered I was right. There was no apology. A friend suggested a dentist her daughter had gone to, a handsome Australian, who spoke not a single word to me, but flirted with the nurse throughout my treatment. I was not impressed!
When I told a neighbour of my experiences she recommended her dentist and I made an appointment with him, Mr W. He was nice and all went well until I needed another extraction of one of my back lower teeth. I told him what had happened the previous time, but he obviously thought I was dramatising the situation. He discovered I was not after another horrendous experience! The next time I visited I saw on my notes in large, red letters, MUST GO TO HOSPITAL FOR FURTHER EXTRACTIONS.
We then left Abingdon and came to the Manchester area where I made an appointment with the local village dentist, Mr P, who advised me that I needed a further back tooth extracted. Apparently they had all started to decay while I was pregnant despite my regular visits to dentists. Again I was treated as a hysterical female when I told him about previous extractions and he set to at 9.15 to try to remove the tooth. It was after 12 noon when I eventually left. Mr P had the audacity to tell me I hadn’t made it clear that my teeth were difficult to remove. Again I was in quite a state, but who got all the sympathy? Not the patient, the dental nurse. All Mr P’s other clients had to be sent off that morning and according to him it was all my fault! A friend recommended another dentist, Mr R, and I went to him for years. He was lovely and when my fourth wisdom tooth had to be removed it was done in hospital. Unfortunately Mr R had to retire owing to ill health and I was put on the list of a lady dentist, Mrs R in the same practice, At each visit I complained to her about a back upper tooth and each time she assured me it was all right. After she left, I saw Mr Sin the same practice and he told me that the tooth I had been complaining about was rotten and it had infected two other teeth which all had to be removed. Mr S said I had a case to sue Mrs R, but I didn’t. I felt very annoyed because all my life I have looked after my teeth. What her reason was for not telling me the truth about the tooth I have no idea.
Mr S retired and the practice was taken over by Mr N. So far so good.
In between all these dentists I have seen several locums. None of them would have tempted me to become one of their patients.
As long as I have teeth I shall continue visiting the dentist.