Last week I had to go to the dentist. And this experience made me think about all the different experiences I had with dentists and why I hate going there so much. I blame my first dentist. He happily drilled and filled holes in my young but porous teeth and all without anesthesia. That did not make me happy. All my teeth (but one) have fillings, so you can see why the sound of the dentist’s drill is somewhat traumatic to me.
He did manage to ‘save’ a baby tooth (milk tooth) that had no permanent tooth replacement. I never thought about it much, until I went to India (when I was 29) and it started to infect. I had cleanings in India, Nepal and Thailand and managed to keep it until I was in Australia. The dentist there just pushed it out. Because there was so much more space in my mouth, my teeth started to move around. So I got an implant in Holland, right next to the one tooth that was still perfect. This process was actually more or less pain-free, thanks to anesthesia. But it also came with the suggestion to have my teeth cleaned every 3 months or so. This quarterly scraping has not done anything to make me feel less anxious about going to the dentist; it always hurt, and there was a lot of spitting and bleeding involved. Grose!
Back to my new dentist. Our landlords had recommended him and I decided to give it a go. When I went there I was the only one in the waiting room. This felt weird; have you ever been to a dentist where you were the only patient in the practice? I had to fill in forms, wavers etc. Questions on the form included: ‘how do you like your smile?’ and ‘How do you see your smile in 10 years?’ to which I answered ‘fine’ and ‘with teeth’.
This was the practice of a dental plastic surgeon! Even though that might come in handy someday, I just wanted a clean. My Spanish dentist saw no problems and asked me to take a seat in The Chair. Nervously I took the challenge. After the obligatory pictures of my teeth, he started cleaning. He hung the little sucker tube into my mouth and then used a little electrical device sounding just like a drill; that high-pitched sound that you would recognize anywhere. I freaked. My eyes flew wide open and my mouth wanted to shut. But it couldn’t. The dentist just kept moving the little apparatus over my teeth. Then I realized: it didn’t hurt! The sound was horrible, but it did not hurt and I was not asked to spit. After he finished he took the hook and manually removed some plaque in apparently awkward places. Then I was asked to spit. There was no blood.
Confused I fell back in my chair. What did he do? How can it not hurt? Have I been the subject of torture just for the pleasure of dentists all over the world? Or did this one do a really bad job? And how can you tell? I was stunned and without asking any questions I paid the hefty bill and left.
I suppressed the feeling to fly to Holland and have ‘my’ dentist check this dentist’s work. Instead I googled dental cleaning and found a website explaining ultrasonic cleaning. That must have been it! A more or less painless way to have your teeth cleaned. Awesome.
But I cannot help wondering why not all dentists use this technique? Why torture us so badly that we get anxiety even when thinking about going to the dentist? Or am I being paranoid? If you have any ideas or experiences please let me know, it may set my mind at ease.