Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Teeth and Tittle-Tattle

This week is National Dental Week. Well, in our family at least. I went to the dentist on Monday. I went there on Tuesday. I went there again today. All thanks to a receptionist who, three months ago, seemed incapable of understanding that I would actually like to try and rescue a little time from my diary and go with the children all together rather than on three separate sojourns. Still, it made each girl feel special I suppose. They all sat there, swamped by the dentist’s chair, furry toys dangling above, spindly little legs stuck out. They all were cleaned and sealed. They all rinsed and spat. They all got their sticker and their balloon, variously inscribed with ‘I’ve had a whale of a time’, ‘Plaque Buster’ and ‘Don’t you dare put that drill anywhere near my mouth’….hours of pleasure. For them at least. I was less convinced: there’s always a shocking smell of old tramp in that place. I cast my eyes round the waiting room. Occasionally the culprit is obvious, at other times it is a mystery. It’s hard to concentrate on the mags while you’re wretching, but I do my best. Today I picked up an old copy of a local publication and there, on page 30, was a face that looked highly familiar. Yes indeedy, it’s one of the mum’s at school – her whole home laid before me in glorious nosey technicolour. Passed the time quite wonderfully.

But I digress. My point was that the dentist whose premises I have been frequenting this week is actually an NHS dentist. A rare breed indeed these days. In London I had left behind a good dentist, albeit private and expensive, and had been looking for a replacement up here for a year or so. To my consternation, all the dentists in a sensible radius from us had no room on their books. When a friend happened to mention in the playground one morning that a new NHS practice had arrived at our local Health Centre you couldn’t see me for dust. Indeed, such is the demand now that they hang an aggressive note at reception saying ‘Any patient who fails to attend their dental appointment will automatically be removed from our practice list’. Perhaps this is the one thing I will NOT be late for.

Footnote on dental health in the North West:-
Zero fluoride in the water means shocking state of population’s teeth. Dire warning from drill-wielding dentist: do not snack, do not eat sweet things between meals as build up of acid, with no fat to counteract it, will destroy teeth in weeks. Proof: I have never had a filling in 43 years but last week (yes, I was there again) even I was treated to my first tooth seal as there were signs softening enamel. Alternatively, it could just be my age - my teeth, I fear, are beginning to lengthen a little…
Note to Severn Trent Water:-
Put fluoride back in the water – it would save a fortune in preventative dental care.

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