The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

The Dentist

toothbrush and orchidsCleaning my teeth this morning I realised, with a sickening chill, that in under a month I will be visiting the dentist. Despite being frightened, I have gone every three months for the past two years.

In the happier, dentist free days of past, I’d visit every seven or eight years. Just for a polish. Occasionally something went wrong and I’d rub on oil of cloves and go to bed very early, hoping for a miracle. But soon even a large slug of brandy wouldn’t dull the pain and I’d dial the dreaded number to book an emergency appointment. I can’t bear any sort of pain; I could never be a spy.

It was always a bit awkward when I turned up,
“We had a problem locating your notes,” a bright receptionist would explain, “as you haven’t attended for seven years.”
I would nod in agonised agreement and after a short brave pause would explain that I had a dental phobia. This stopped further recriminations dead. Suddenly she’d be plumping up the cushions in the waiting room and offering me a cup of tea. There would be ten happy minutes flicking through Country Life and Rupert Bear annuals before I was Called Upstairs. Lots of people must feel the same. That’s why they don’t leave copies of Dental World scattered about the waiting room.

In my teens I wanted to be a dentist for a while. Then the thought of examining endless rotten teeth put me off. Looking back now I realise the main draw was the Dr Kildare smock that buttons across the shoulder. I imagined that I’d look good in that. I also wanted the excuse to have a large aquarium in my surgery. As a child, I wondered who fed and cared for the fish that gawped at me as the dentist pointed to a small glass of red tinted water and asked me to swill and spit.

Things have moved on massively. The crisp white outfits have been replaced by loose blue scrubs. Although these are clean and pressed they are worryingly reminiscent of the shapeless drapes worn by the stressed theatre staff in ER. The aquarium is on DVD. Lying horizontal, four feet up with my jacket zipped up to the neck, in case I have to make a quick get away, I feel like Methuselah.

Our dear friend Jack is a retired dentist. His girlfriend, Katey, traded a week’s decorating for an all expenses paid holiday in her house in Alderney. All the overalls in the house were outfits that had been pensioned off from Jack’s dental practice. He presented me with a Kildare style dental smock. I was thrilled. Buttoning up from the waist and across my shoulder I could feel that dormant teenage dental dream stirring. I spent a contented week wielding the roller disguised as a dentist and loved it.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Pamela

    I have a friend who swears by tapping, so I’m going to give it a go. Thanks for the nudge.

  2. Fiona, you need to tap on this phobia. Google EFT and you can read about how to do it. I swear by tapping which I was introduced to by my brilliant counsellor and which I credit for now being back happily back at work full time after 3 1/2 years off. I have been going to the dentist twice a year now for the last 5 or 6 years, having not been for 13 years. It was fear which drove me there not pain, which in the end was worse than the dental phobia. Fortunately I didn’t need anything doing apart from a good polish. The look of glee on the dentists face – I swear she positively rubbed her hands together – when I admitted to not having been for 13 years, totally took my mind off the whole process. It was nothing compared to the disappointment I spotted on her face when she was forced to admit I didn’t need any treatment and I was out of that chair in a flash! I used to be physically ill the day of a dentist appointment but in July I tapped on it a couple of days beforehand and was fine. I will do it again if I need to before my next appointment which is also looming in January.

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