Someone once said ‘It’s like the dentist. You put it off and put it off, but when you actually get round to going, it’s really not that bad’. This person is a liar.
We all loathe the dentist (more specifically the hygienist) and we loathe it for a reason. Many reasons in fact. We must never forget this, no matter how nice our teeth look afterwards or how much ‘better’ people tell us we will feel.
The loathing of a visit to the dentist starts at the very beginning. Which is usually the ‘medical questionnaire’ – a sort of question-answer session devised to make you feel bad about yourself, your lifestyle choices, and the lazy way in which you choose to live your life in general.
Mine went something like this:
So Miss Langley, do you smoke? Yes (eye brow raised followed by a few ‘tut-tuttings’)
Do you drink tea or coffee? Yes
Roughly how many cups of tea or coffee do you drink a day? I dunno…a MILLION
Do you drink red wine? Yes
How many glasses of red wine do you drink a week? Do bottles count as a ‘large glasses’?
Do you floss? Don’t be ridiculous
Do you use mouthwash? Only when there’s a 2 for 1 offer on Listerine at Boots – and it’s positioned right by the check out so I don’t have to bother looking for it.
That bit over, you lower yourself into the dentist’s chair.
These days you’re handed a pair of sunglasses. I presume it’s to protect your eyes from the beacon of light glaring into them, but in my opinion, it’s a ploy to lure you into a false sense of ‘sunbathing-on-holiday-security’. As an added bonus, they also make you look like an idiot.
’Open wide.’ Silence.
A series of ‘umms and aahs’ usually follows here. You translate these as: ‘Aha, exactly the type of odious oral hygiene I would expect from someone who lives such an unruly, frivolous, sinful existence.’
Next, you are prodded and poked by some surgical implement you can imagine was favoured by Jack The Ripper, before arriving at the best bit: Scraping. The sound of this procedure is very much akin to scratching nails down a chalkboard, only it’s ever so slightly worse because it’s happening in your mouth. It lasts forever and it’s painful. After a while you start to taste something unsavory and metallic in flavour. Yes that’s right, you’re bleeding. You are actually bleeding and what’s worse, you’re paying £100 for the pleasure of it.
As they hack away further into your mouth, you see bloody globules of plaque spraying from every angle, and you suddenly start to feel extremely vulnerable. ‘This so-called professional could do anything,’ you panic, ‘and I just sit here like a goose and let them do it…’
’If it hurts at all, just raise your hand.’
‘I’ll be doing a helluva lot more than that I can tell you,’ you think, frantically.
More scraping occurs. Before long, in goes the dentist’s hoover, an instrument designed to guzzle spit and sit comfortably in your mouth but let’s face it, normally ends up trying to eat it.
You wince. Does that hurt?
‘Well now let me see,’ you think to yourself. ‘You are scratching my tooth with force, you’re missing it – a lot – and therefore stabbing at my gum also, whilst squirting ice cold water directly onto my toothy nerve. WHAT DO YOU THINK?’
What you actually say is ‘[short squeak] A little’, which, considering you can barely move your jaw and have drool dribbling down your cheek, probably sounds more like ‘A wiwwle’.
My dentist was considerate enough to turn music on at this point. Ah yes. Bob Marley. Telling me: ‘Every little thing, is gonna be alright’. I’m afraid Bob, you’re wrong. Everything – every little thing – is certainly NOT alright.
‘Open wider.’ I have never understood this instruction. You’re trying your best to keep your gob open as wide as possible, for as long as possible, and if there was any way you could do it wider for longer you probably would. After all, it’s not as if you are looking to prolong the ordeal.
Ten centuries later, the hygienist downs tools and you’re asked to gurgle some foul looking purple concoction which tastes like phlegm.
You are then asked one of the most ridiculous questions you have ever heard: ‘Do you know how to brush your teeth? ‘
‘Well,’ you respond, ‘I’ve been doing it twice a day, every day, since the very first day I grew teeth, so you know what? I think I got it.’
’You know to hold your electric toothbrush over each tooth at an angle directed at the base of the tooth, without brushing back and forth?’
The final humiliation. You have spent your entire life performing a very simple cleaning procedure, entirely wrong.
Is it any wonder, therefore, that the first thing you reach for as you exit the surgery is a cigarette, before swiftly walking off in search of the nearest pub?
by Beenie Langley