Dentists I have liked, loved and loathed . . .

. . . in no particular order

The older I get, the more I question some of the decisions made by the man upstairs with the long white beard. No doubt he sustains himself by enjoying his candy floss clouds, and quenches his thirst by giving them the odd squeeze. But why, for heaven’s sake, were we designed with teeth? Let’s face it, they give us pain when they are with us, their arrival is heralded by aching gums, and when they finally fall out, we look frightful and are unable to eat properly. Why not a different diet? Soft fruit, chocolate-flavoured mud and mint-tasting jellyfish to slurp. Had his imagination run out? And then, of course, there are the exorbitant maintenance costs. Could it be that the Almighty sees dentists as a special case needing constant employment?

I guess I must have been about five when I first encountered the Mouth Doctor. Whilst I don’t recall his name, I do clearly remember the two small balls of cotton wool attached to the long metal arm of his miniature pneumatic drill which lurked in waiting. Their scampering back and forth along this weapon of mouth destruction was supposedly designed to provide a distraction from the excruciating pain, and thunderous noise that ensued as he viciously attacked my unsuspecting molars. His gentle voice, and amiable manner, did nothing to allay my fears. Moreover, his suggestion that these obvious bits of cotton wool were rabbits, merely confirmed his inability to keep a grasp on reality. Or was it poor eyesight? If so, why on earth was he let loose inside the mouths of innocent children? Personally, I suspect he was just a pathological liar.

Perhaps God, in his wisdom, thought that giving me an early overdose of the Devil’s work, would ensure that I would avoid any further Satan worship, ie sweets. That didn’t work either!

Having survived this butcher, as an adult, I was introduced to another dentist. He, of course, was at an advantage, since the introduction of anaesthetics to ease pain was commonplace, and progress had certainly improved the look and efficiency of the dreaded drill. But there was more. Oh yes. As I reclined back in his chair, with his handsome face close to mine, I was able to gaze into his beautiful hazel eyes. Indeed, had my mouth not been so wide open, it would have been easy to have raised my head ever so slightly to give him a juicy kiss. Certainly not to gaze and gob was one of the hardest lessons in self-control I have ever had to learn. We did become good friends, although for me there was always the promise of more, if only in my dreams. I like to think that perhaps if he hadn’t become so intimate with my mouth by poking about my cavities, our relationship might have blossomed. Indeed, on the one occasion when, as I lay back seductively in his chair, he told me that his wife was leaving him, I almost swallowed the drill. Oh, it was bliss, and being unconsummated, there seemed no necessity to confess my infatuation to my husband. Happy days!

Now I am in my seventies and have yet another dentist. He, too, is kind and considerate, and certainly not a butcher. In fact, although he spends more time on the inside of my mouth than anyone else ever has, including the man of my dreams, ours is a purely platonic relationship. Indeed, that is almost certainly the reason why. His habit of showing me the sad sight of my fangs and ghastly gums on a small screen in front of me, puts me off, let alone anyone else. This, combined with my paper bib to catch any dribbles and spillage, and my large plastic Perspex glasses to keep off splashes, does little to enhance my looks.

My mouth manager fares little better. His latex gloves and unattractive, though no doubt essential, microscope which is attached to his spectacles, not only magnifies the defects within my mouth, but also illuminates my wrinkles and facial hair. He is well protected; I am shamed.

And, so we muddle along, to the accompaniment of the radio, chats about politics, family life, holidays and the theatre. He has even suggested I might like a season ticket to the practice, given the frequency of my visits. This I declined, although I did agree to write about my life in the dentist’s chair . . . And here it is.

Kate Dyson


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