Monday, 27 February 2012

A trip to the dentist and discovering my vices

I recently went to the dentist as my teeth were well in need of a scale & polish. The front ones were more than a little stained and not your usual pale brownish colour either - they were green! Must be to do with all the green tea I drink. It was so bad I hadn't smiled, let alone laughed without putting my hand in front of my mouth for weeks. As I sat in the waiting room I could hear that horrible high-pitched hum that implies some kind of torturous instrument and was in equal measures grateful and ungrateful for the development of modern science.

Before I moved to Hong Kong I had been seeing the same dentist in Canterbury for ten years. Not living there anymore, I made my appointments to coincide with a trip home (the one advantage of dentistry no longer being widely available on the NHS). Even when I lived in Germany, I still went to my old dentist. That's how much I didn't want to find a new one.

However, living in Hong Kong, it was a little far to go back to Canterbury to go to the dentist, so this time last year I took the plunge and found myself a new dentist. I don't really know why I feel so apprehensive about dentists as generally I've only ever had good ones, and my current one is no exception. She is my first female dentist though and she's extremely beautiful with the most amazingly white and straight teeth. I guess she has to be. It's a real shame she has to hide them all day behind a mask. I do wonder if you could be a dentist with bad teeth; it would be fairly poor advertising, wouldn't it?

The first time I saw my dentist in Hong Kong, instead of using the usual chisel and hammer to clean my teeth, she tried to use some machine. I practically flew out of the chair the second it touched my teeth and pushed her and her machine as far away from my mouth as possible. She suggested we did it the old-fashioned way.

A year later, after faithfully using toothpaste for sensitive teeth (according to dentists sensodyne is best, for those of you who need to know), flossing and using mouthwash, I was in the reclining chair again. I don't actively fear going to the dentist, but at that moment in time there were quite a few places I'd rather have been (including in front of a class of twenty sulky teenagers or twenty hyper-active 5-year olds). She started with the polish, a foul-tasting paste that made me gag. "Let's start with the hand tools," she said, "as I remember your teeth are very sensitive." Then she said she was going to move on to the supersonic machine. I agreed with as much confidence as I could muster and then proceeded to clench my hands so tightly the knuckles almost burst through the skin. It was a toss up as to which was worst: the machine the dentist was scraping away at my teeth with, the blasts of cold water & air the dental assistant was subjecting me to, or the noise of it all. The one and only time I've had a filling done, my Canterbury dentist told me to close my eyes and picture myself somewhere serene, like a beach. At one stage I tried to do that, but closing my eyes only heightened my other senses, so I quickly abandoned that! The front teeth were doable, but I drew the line at the back teeth. These would have to be done the old-fashioned way.

We finished up and I looked in the hand-mirror provided and my teeth were clean - it had all been worth it! I also noticed my mascara was halfway down my face (so much for waterproof Chanel) and I'm grateful they didn't send me out of the door looking like that. I asked the dentist before I left whether there was anything else I could do to keep my teeth cleaner. "Yes," she answered, "no coffee or tea for 24 hours." What?! I really didn't want to admit how much that thought filled me with dread. It was only three o'clock in the afternoon, so that would mean the rest of the day and most of the next day without tea or coffee. I could do one or the other, no problem (ok, small problem, but I could do it, really I could). But neither; that was a problem. I had planned to spend the next couple of hours sitting in a cafe as a reward for going to the dentist (having outgrown the customary sticker a long time ago) and this was bad news. Bad news indeed! I contemplated asking if this included green tea, but seeing as she'd just spent the better part of an hour scraping green off my teeth, I thought that might be pushing it. I took a deep breath, plastered a fake smile on my face and with false enthusiasm uttered, "Sure, no problem!"

I didn't last 24 hours.

12 comments:

  1. Oh, I feel your pain, literally! I was nearly in tears at my last cleaning. Those sonic dealies are horrid! Worst, the dentist found a small cavity and set an appointment to fill it about a month later, in September. My appointment coincided with the first T8 of the season.
    I still haven't rescheduled.
    -Dani

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    1. That was the one saving grace - no cavities!

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  2. Your blog reminds me that i haven't been to see any dentist for a long time. But 24 hours without coffee or tea. I can't bear that! Take care! love Charlene xxx

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  3. Well done again on another interesting blog post. The last time I went to the dentist here they were doing building work next door and all you could here in the waiting room was this really loud whiney drill from next door. It was terrifying.

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  4. I SO need to go to the dentist here and have been putting it off!!!!

    Nice blog, I was chuckling at the bit about the air and water going into your mouth, so horrible every time!

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  5. You must have inherited your fear of dentists from me! Although, unlike me, you've never had to have serious work done. Had a little chuckle when I read about the new Scale & Polish. Have not been through that one yet.( BTW, hope you will never discover 'serious work'.)

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    1. Inheriting a fear of the dentist must be like inheriting a fear of spiders! I also hope that I never find out what 'serious work' is like! xxx

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  6. Another enjoyable installment - is your 'about me' photo covering up the shameful green teeth? :) lots of love, Libby

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  7. Good thing your dentist didn't see you drinking coffee or tea within 24 hours. Otherwise, she would have scolded you for that, hahaha. But I wish there'd be equipment that is less noisy someday so that people wouldn't have to bear with the chilling sound.

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    1. Couldn't agree more - Nobel Peace Prize to someone who can invent a machine that doesn't make that horrible noise!

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