Thursday, 24 April 2008

The Tooth Fairy

We're off early tomorrow morning to do an interview in Callington (well, I'm doing that bit while I dare say Himself will sneak off to the pub) and then go on to spend the weekend with my mum. So I thought I'd leave you with this in my absence.

This is for anyone who, like me, hates the dentist...

My dentist is like a younger George Clooney. Yet despite his looks, I’ve always been terrified of having my mouth examined. Teeth can be the source of so much pain that when faced with a dental appointment, my stomach plummets and my pulse thuds like a drum beat. The high pitched squeal of the drill makes me want to flee the building.

Last year I developed an abscess the week before my birthday. It hurt too much to chew, so my celebratory meal was cancelled and I was reduced to baby food and fluids.

Three days before my birthday, I had to see The Lovely One as the antibiotics I’d taken hadn’t worked. He prescribed me some that said in large letters, AVOID ALCOHOL. I saw my birthday becoming a very sedate affair. No food, no drink, work, walking our hyperactive dog. Great. But womanfully I chucked these horse pills down my throat hoping they would cure my throbbing jaw.

Two days before my birthday I was at my computer when I started feeling rather light headed. More so than usual. Concentration proved a little difficult, and as the morning progressed I started feeling swimmy. Not in a watery way, you understand, but in a drunk kind of way. I tried to get up from my computer and realised that I couldn’t focus very well. Was it the cheap glasses that I’d bought online? I felt floaty and other worldly, bringing back distant memories of first experiments with cider.

I struggled to get up and lurched down the corridor like a drunken sailor. My husband looked alarmed and suggested that I ring the dentist. I giggled.

‘Er – don’t go away. Hold on,’ said the receptionist, and her voice shook a little.
A minute later she came back on the line and said, ‘The dentist says to stop taking those antibiotics NOW. If you come in, he’ll leave a prescription for something else.’
‘OK,’ I grinned. ‘This means I can have a drink for my birthday!’ I said to Himself - a fact that suddenly seemed hilarious.
‘I’m not sure that’s a good idea,’ was the disappointing reply.

By my birthday itself, the effects of those drugs receded and my feet reconnected with the carpet but my toothache returned with vengeance. I felt as if I had flu, spent the day in bed, and several days later the Lovely One removed the offending tooth.

Looking in the mirror, I saw gaps everywhere. From then on, all I could think about was teeth. When I talked to people I started surreptitiously inspecting their mouths. If they had pearly perfects, I would mutter through a closed mouth, tricky if you want to be understood. If they had crooked teeth, or ones missing, I felt able to open my mouth a fraction and give a reasonably intelligible response.

A few weeks later I was talking to a friend who also goes to the Lovely One and she told me that she’d lost all her teeth before she was 50. I froze in horror. I was 49. Back in the Lovely One’s chair, I demanded action.
“I can refer you,” he said. “But it’ll cost.”
I didn’t care. I was desperate.

So a week later saw me enter the hallowed portals of private dentistry. In a glass fronted building overlooking the river, I was greeted by a receptionist who spoke in muted tones. The lighting was dimmed, like a health spa, and I sank into the plush armchair and looked around. Copies of that day’s Times and various glossy magazines lay on pale pine coffee tables. No dog eared copies of Hello magazine here. Classic FM drifted from invisible speakers; no child dared scream in this room.

At my first hour long consultation, my gums were severely scrutinised and I learnt that severe gum disease leads to periodontal disease, the main cause of tooth loss in adults. I was given an estimate of what it would cost to halt my periodontal disease and my remaining teeth nearly fell out in shock. How much? But I went back. I had to feel the fear and return to this dentist or lose yet more teeth.

It took ten sessions and ten massive monthly repayments to get my gums under control. Ten sessions where I subjected myself to gum interrogations. Ten sessions where the smile from the receptionist faded as she noticed my mud spattered, dogwalking jeans. But a year later, after endless hours of brushing and flossing my teeth, I’m pain free and my gums are vastly improved.

After ten months of intensive, painless treatment I’ve realised I’ve faced the worst, so there’s nothing to be frightened of. Now I waltz into the dentist’s surgery with barely a tremor.

So I didn't plan any birthday festivities this year. Just in case.


Irene said...

You are very brave to have done that. I have lost all my teeth to that gum disease and though I can smile prettily now, it is a fake smile and I know it. Gum disease is a horrible business. Good for you for getting it taken care of in time.

Flowerpot said...

oh you poor thing I do feel for you irene. I'm so sorry you werent able to keep your teeth.

Akelamalu said...

WE're off today for the weekend too, though I've used Blogger Draft to do my weekend post. I can totally understand your fear of dentists - I am too!

Ellee Seymour said...

What a horrendous experience, I hope you celebrated your birthday later.
I've got to have a bridge made for me next week, it's either that or an implant and I simply can't afford that. I had one a couple of years ago and found it a very painful experience.

I hope your interview goes well, and have a lovely weekend. Apologies for my lack of visits this week due to work and stress.

Anonymous said...

Dentists aren't my favourite people either! I think that chair starts you off feeling light headed when they tilt you back. Have a great time away.

Crystal xx

Julia Phillips Smith said...

My husband's in the very same predicament as you were in. He's currently in the antibiotics stage. Tooth removal will come later. Glad your dentist phobia calmed down somewhat after all of that.

I've tagged you for a 7 Things Meme.

Lane Mathias said...

The cost is the most frightening part of going to the dentist. If it wasn't an issue, many more of us would be sporting pearly perfect teeth.
Well done for overcoming your fear fp and good luck with the interview:-)

Philipa said...

Hmn, my hygeine routine took a nosedive when I became pregnant (sick throughout and knackered thereafter) I should floss, thanks for reminding fp. I liked watching Doc Martin (Martin Clunes fan) and thought it was so funny when Louisa finally kissed him and he started talking about her dental hygiene routine and she smacked him one and made him walk home.

Flowerpot said...

Ak - hope you had a good weekend - we did!

elee - sorry you have been so stressed and hope the weekend helps you unwind a bit. Take care.

Crystal - no I dont think anyone likes them!!

Flowerpot said...

Julia - best of luck to your husband. oh I do sympathise!

lane -w e're lucky in having NHS dentistry but that private lot did teh trick but a large hole in the bank balance!

P - yes I loved that Doc Martin bit as well. Keep flossing P!

Flowerpot said...

Ak - hope you had a good weekend - we did!

elee - sorry you have been so stressed and hope the weekend helps you unwind a bit. Take care.

Crystal - no I dont think anyone likes them!!

Stinking Billy said...

I found you in Crystal jigsaw's comments. I was the guy in the photo in 'Pass me teeth', and I thought it might be nice to share just a little of my current dental treatment with you. Just go to

Be happy! ;-)

Em said...

Glad you got all your teefs sorted out. I've been blessed with a relentlessly healthy mouth so far but I'm sure that will change :O

Hope you had a good weekend and the interview went well - I'm sure I had a great uncle who lived in Callington, that my Dad used to visit as a kid.

Managed to get pics of my Mollie's agility this weekend, courtesy of Tracy - on my blog :D Is your Mollie still going?

All the best


Flowerpot said...

stinking billy - I will go and have a look at your dental experiences, so to speak. HOpe you aren't suffering too much!

Flowerpot said...

Em - I will go and have a look at your Mollie's agility pics in a minute. My Moll isnt still going as teh course was 10 weeks but she loved doing it!