This week I went to have yet another broken tooth glued back. In the past few years I’ve had countless such repairs – well five, anyway – almost always due to over-enthusiastic carrot crunching. Mercifully I have at last found a kind and gentle dentist who repairs Without Pain.
The pain thing is, of course, paramount. My teeth are sensitive specimens and back in the UK, I always needed two injections against the agony of drilling. When we came here six years ago, I wondered if that would be allowed, or would I be snorted out of the surgery?
When you move house, of course, the best way to find a dentist is by word of mouth (ho ho). The first of an eclectic range of recommendations was for a young, dynamic woman, up to date on all the latest techniques and keen to transform every tooth into one Fit for Hollywood.
It seemed like a good idea at first, but after we’d been summoned back for several severe pokings, sent to a special x-ray centre to augment the many x-rays she’d taken herself and been given her Bill, we started trying to say No.
Because all we wanted was a checkup each and my first tooth-mending – victim of a birthday feast. The repair was… efficient in a Don’t-make-such-a-fuss sort of way. But what hurt even more was her list of Absolutely Necessary future treatments, the cost amounting to most of our savings. I didn’t want all those teeth crowning to perfection. We told her We’d call Her.
The next dentist was different. He looked at the ancient crown on the front tooth I'd broken aged nine (falling over a bucket), and said, ‘Mm, there’s no decay… unless you’re worried about your appearance, I’d leave it.’ Well, I was a little worried, but didn’t like to say - he obviously felt it merited no concern...
He had been recommended by Cecile, who’d been going there for thirty years and ‘had never had anything to complain about’. However, all her teeth are false and when I asked if he hurt ever, her ‘Non’ was accompanied by a very Gallic shrug.
He turned out to be upper-middle-aged, and rather likeable. Which is important, but pales completely against the Pain Factor; our jolly chats were interspersed with his guffawing, ‘You don’t need an anaesthetic for a tiny job like this!’ and my apologetic screams.
And you should see the repair he did on my broken tooth – it resembles a dollop of blu-tack. Inevitably - he applied the concrete with one of those wooden spatulas we used to eat tubs of ice cream with, and he certainly didn’t Fine Tune.
Further recommendations include a homeopathic dentist who didn’t even believe in anaesthetic – he’d just give you a Strong Warning; a dentist who was good but very squeamish, so would tremble all through root canal, and finally, finally our lovely current Dentist.
We’ve got into quite a pleasant routine – every so often I get carried away with my carrot-crunching, rescue the wayward tooth chip and put it in an envelope. I pop into the surgery and he glues it back on. He’s friendly, twinkly, and Painless.
And even though he’s been on the verge of retirement for the two years I’ve been going there, he’s too happy in his work to give up. Something to do with the calibre of tooth, I like to think…
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