Friday, March 04, 2005

Me teef, me teef!

This has been inspired by Gemmak’s post about the ability of people in the UK to obtain dental treatment, either on the NHS or privately.

I am a very very nervous patient when it comes to my teeth. I hate going to the dentist. It all stems from the treatment I had to have as a child. I had many fillings when I was younger and almost all of them were done without anaesthetic.

Yes that’s right, no pain relief for me! Bring it on! I’m hard! I can take it!

Ha, well no actually I couldn’t, but having the anaesthetic was pointless for me, you see it didn’t make a damn bit of difference, I could still feel the pain. My face would be numb, my tongue felt as though it had swelled to twice the size on one side and I would do the delightful dribble down one side trying to drink anything, but I could still feel the pain. Pump more anaesthetic into me; yes go on, jab that needle in again, and another one just to be sure, why not.

I’ll tell you why not, I could still feel it dammit!

I’ve never been a big fan of needles either and it hurts having one jabbed into your gums. This was also back in the days when it would take about 10 mins to take effect, so I would go for appointments and spend a good half hour sitting in the waiting room while my face got ever more numb. I was always convinced that I looked like a stroke victim after all this.

So one day I want for a filling and I told the dentist not to bother with the anaesthetic, just get on with it. It took a bit of convincing but in the end I won. No jabby jabby, just the whine of the drill and me leaving the requisite finger holes in the chair.

Then came a breakthrough. When I was a student I needed some work doing, but I couldn’t find an NHS dentist to register with so I had to go private. The filling I needed was in the front of one of my teeth on the gumline. I told the dentist no anaesthetic but he was very reluctant to do that given the location of the filling. So I explained the reasons to him and he said he may have an idea about that and would I let him try. So I agreed.

In went the needle, my face went numb, he started to drill and I about shot through the roof.

In goes the needle again, but in a different place. Continuing numbness and the drilling starts again. I’m gripping the chair as if my life depended on it and I felt… nothing. Oh Joy! Oh Rapture!

So once it was all over I asked this wondrous dentist what the secret was, and the answer…

A second set of nerves running to my teeth!

Apparently this is a rare and not altogether accepted condition, where in addition to the usual set of nerves that come down the cheek to the teeth, there is a second set that come up from the neck. All the time the dentists in the past were deadening the usual lot, the other set was still fully functioning. This apparently also explains why I have sensitive teeth, who’dve thunk it eh.

So the next time I needed work doing, off I trotted armed with my new information. I had moved house in the meantime so this was a new guy, who pooh poohed the genius dentists diagnosis and said that he didn’t believe in the second nerve theory. Aaaaaaargh!

I argued with him over it and in the end he stabbed me in the gums about 5 times to keep me quiet and it did work, but I never went back there again and all my wariness of dentists was back.

A couple of years ago a small hole in the front of one of my molars started growing, so I made an appointment with yet another new dentist for a check up as a prelude to getting some work done. This one turned about to be another unbeliever and such an evil looking little woman that I never went back, seriously this woman scared the life out of me, think voodoo witch doctor *shudder*

So now to the present. The tooth with the hole is now a tooth with no front. It doesn’t hurt most of the time but every now and then it reminds me that it’s there. I’m now in another new house and I’ve had a dentist recommended to me as being very very good, but can I get on his books? Ha! Not as an NHS patient, not even as a private patient. He must be good. So I’m waiting. He doesn’t have a waiting list but I’ll keep calling, someone’s got to leave sooner or later.