Sunday, 30 October 2016

Carry On Going to the Dentist


I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of dentists.  My regular dentist always says my visits age him by ten years.  I’ve assured him that visiting him ages me by ten years too.
          ‘So,’ said my son, ‘now that I’ve qualified, are you going to become my patient?’
          ‘Ah…well…,’ I said evasively, ‘the thing is–’
          ‘Yes?’
          ‘Um, yes, er, the thing is you’re newly qualified, whereas my dentist has been drilling teeth for decades.’
          ‘What point are you making?’
          Oh dear.  There was no other way to say it.  ‘I’ll be brutally honest.  I don’t feel confident seeing you.’
          My son rolled his eyes.  ‘Before I graduated I was treating patients at the hospital for two years.  I am probably more up-to-date in techniques and knowledge than your regular dentist.  I’ve helped patients from age four to seventy-four.  I’ve done surgical extractions, fillings, bridges, root canals, crowns, braces and dentures.’
          ‘Y-yes, but my dentist has an excellent bedside manner.’
          ‘I think you mean chairside manner.’
          ‘That as well.  And he always makes sure the dental nurse holds my hand.’
          My dental nurse will hold your hand.  Now stop being silly and make an appointment.  Just think, if you see me you’ll save loads of money.’
          Well “money” is a magic word, isn’t it?  My last dental bill for a root canal set me back fifteen-hundred quid.  You could go on holiday for that, couldn’t you?  So keeping that thought firmly in mind, I made an appointment to see my son.  He was as good as his word and gave me a dental nurse to hang on to while I was X-rayed, prodded, scaled and polished and had impressions taken for a mouth guard.  Apparently I need a filling so another appointment was made upon leaving.  I have to say, he does indeed have an excellent chairside manner.  He also assured me that I’m not his most nervous patient.
          ‘Really?’ I beamed with delight.
          ‘Really,’ he assured, and promptly told me about…we’ll call her Miss Smith for reasons of confidentiality.  Miss Smith was due a wisdom tooth extraction.  She was so nervous she’d brought her mother along to support her.  Unfortunately the mother was also terrified of dentists and was likely to pass out if she saw blood.  At the last minute the mother opted to stay in the waiting room and anxiously pace the floor while a dental nurse led Miss Smith to the treatment room upstairs.
          Half way through the procedure, the patient started to have a panic attack.
          ‘You’re doing tremendously well,’ my son soothed, ‘not long to go.’
          ‘I can’t cope,’ Miss Smith managed to convey, mouth open, suction thingy under tongue.
          ‘Yes you can, almost there, doing fabulously.’
          Whereupon Miss Smith began to hyperventilate.  Seconds later she rocketed out of the chair banging her head on the overhead light and sending the suction instrument catapulting into a tray of instruments which crashed to the floor.  Screaming with terror she shot out of the treatment room and collapsed at the top of the stairs.  My son managed to grab her and, as she came round, told her to lift her legs up against the wall to get the blood flowing back to her head.  However, the commotion had not gone unnoticed in the waiting room below.  Miss Smith’s mother came charging up the stairs emitting blood-curdling screams and yelling, ‘Mummy is coming, darling.  Don’t panic!’  When she saw her daughter on the floor, legs akimbo, with my son masked and crouched over her she nearly fainted herself.  Grabbing the banister for support, she rounded on my son.
          ‘What in God’s name are you doing to my daughter?’
          ‘This isn’t what it looks like,’ my son assured, fleetingly wondering why he’d ever wanted to be a dentist.
          Five minutes later, both women were in the treatment room.  Miss Smith was back in the chair, two dental nurses were made available to hold both Miss Smith’s and Mrs Smith’s hands, the former who continued to hyperventilate and the latter who insisted on staring at the wall so she wouldn’t feel squeamish and all the while shrieking, ‘It’s okay, darling, don’t worry about a thing, Mummy is here.’  At least I can put my hand on my heart and say I’ve never behaved like that.
          Which reminds me.  A woman and her husband interrupted their holiday to go to the dentist. ‘I want a tooth pulled,’ said the woman, ‘and I don't want Novacaine because I’m in a big hurry.  Just extract the tooth as quickly as possible, and we’ll be on our way.’ The dentist was quite impressed. ‘You’re a courageous woman,’ he said. ‘Which tooth is it?’ The woman turned to her husband and said, ‘Show him your tooth, dear.’


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