Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Grand Canyon

There is a hole in my tooth. It’s the very back molar at the top. Contrary to popular belief, my mouth isn’t big enough to get a mirror inside to examine it, so I have been probing it with the tip of my tongue. It feels as deep as the Grand Canyon, but it can’t be: only a few slightly discoloured shards fell out.

To be honest, the tooth had been hurting on and off for some time. I thought if I ignored it, it might go away. It’s not as if I’ll be able to find a dentist: having written a number of articles recently in the ‘real world’, I am well aware of that. I did check the NHS ‘dentist finder’. My local practitioners aren’t taking on any new patients.

I resent paying dentists. I pay my National Insurance, so surely I should be able to find someone to sort out my mouth on the cheap? My resentment goes deeper than meanness and bloody-mindedness, though. It is rooted in the hundreds of pounds I paid a dentist once and ended up with some attractive white replacement fillings and not much else.

I had saved up to have veneers on my teeth. I went to a dentist renowned for being good at the old cosmetic stuff: he was also renowned for being expensive. I told him what I wanted. “Ah,” he said, “before we can do that, you must have those stains removed and your horrible old metal fillings replaced with pretty nice white ones. We wouldn’t want them ruining your smile when it’s finished, would we?”

The stains, which are actually covered by my lower lip 99.9% of the time, were attacked – repeatedly – by an evangelical American hygienist with sparkling pearly-whites. I came away – repeatedly – with sore and bleeding gums, and my stains still intact. The fillings were replaced. “The injection costs more than the NHS one,” the dentist explained, “because the needle is narrower and the anaesthetic is pina colada flavoured.” I never got my veneers. By the time the groundwork had been laid, he’d cleaned me out.

So, as far as I’m concerned, I’ve paid my cash dues to dentists for at least the next 20 years. As for my poor holey tooth? Well, surprisingly it hurts less now that a bit of it has fallen out. I might just leave it and see what happens.

23 comments:

james higham said...

Love your blog but positively can't read this post without wincing.

mutterings and meanderings said...

I ate a meringue earlier James. That made me wince too!

beta mum said...

There are positively no NHS dentists left down here in the South West - so we have to go privately, the children too.
So I have to go at least once a year just so they know that dentists are OK and their teeth can be checked.
It's an outrage. Like paying to park on a Sunday but worse.

IsobelMagsBuchan said...

As someone who has suffered for many years with bag gums rather than bad teeth, I offer one bit of advice, bite the bullet (well only if it's soft) and find a dentist and don't leave that rotting tooth in your mouth. Bad gums and bad teeth lead to bad hearts. There's loads of research that proves this and it was that research that made me go out and find a dentist that was recommended by others rather than sticking with my rather ineffectual and lying NHS dentist. I may now be a lot poorer and certainly will be be about £500 down after the current set of treatment but at least my gums will be in much better health. Plus I trust this dentist. That makes a change.

The Grocer said...

Two years of toothache with a "wisdom" tooth some years back leave me as something of an expert. Anadin Extra are the top painkiller but a bottle of single malt in the bedside cabinet is invaluable for through the night. I can recomend Macallan 10yr old.

dulwichmum said...

Poor sweet baby! Have you considered marrying a dentist? I believe if you marry a Maxillo facial surgeon (qualified dentist and plastic surgeon) you can have everything you ever dreamed of for free! I once had a boyfriend of this exact profession, and not only did he give me root canal treatment, but he provided me with a rhinoplasty while he was at it! Find out where they hang out locally, and just act indifferent when he tells you what he does for a living. He may even have a chum who can provide you with veneers!

Sarnia said...

I've been doing the same thing for the last couple of weeks as part of a filling fell out of one of my upper (biggish) teeth on the top.

I can't stop probing it with my tongue either.

No NHS Dentists here (no NHS here at all come to that) and earliest appt. is not for a couple of weeks).

I don't mind going to the Dentist as long as they don't nag me. Haven't been for a few years (worth an awful amount of nagging) but have stopped smoking (so should reduce the nag factor - hopefully)

Mopsa said...

M&M - I feel for you. It took me an age to find an NHS dentist, which I finally did (and in the SW too Beta Mum) after refusing to take no for an answer and suffering the receptionists giving me pitying "she obviously can't afford to go private" looks. Made me want to do irreparable violence to their teeth. With a solid gold sledge hammer. Just to prove a point you understand. Some principles are worth fighting for.

mountainear said...

This is the most uncomfortable blog I've read for a long time! Ouch.

Marianne said...

My dentist is absolutely gorgeous and well worth a visit. Estonian I think. White blond hair, eyes the colour of the Baltic sea when the sun shines coldly. When I first met him 20 years ago, I was embarrassed to open my mouth, but we managed to get through that. The thing is, it's impossible to fancy someone who's done a root canal on you. How Dulwichmum managed this I do not know. But best of all, he has a policy of minimum intervention for which my children thank him.

However, I think you are going to have to bite the bullet M&M. Wincing is not a good look.

Exmoorjane said...

Found your blog via @themill....lovely stuff though I'd rather not think about teeth. But - oh my God - the Cambridge Latin course! Yes! Or should I say ita vero?! Caecilius est pater indeed. Erat Quinto discus novus.... thank you! thank you! I can now relive it all.....
Jane

dulwichmum said...

Dear Marianne,

You never told mentioned if your dentist was single!

DM

Brom said...

I will refrain from doing the "What time does a China Man go to the dentist joke".

But did you know his brother went at tooth hurtee two.

Dentists, a necessary evil. Mine's quite good looking. It's trying not to look into here eyes while she's doing the biz!

Stay at home dad said...

I have found that writing about my toothache seems to make it better...

mutterings and meanderings said...

Thank you all for your sympathy and advice. I will have to do something about it, I fear ...

Brom, you are herewith named the resident jester ...

Welcome along, Exmoorjane and thank you for your kind words. Caecilius est argentarius, Metella est mater, Grumio est coquus etc!

debio said...

i am taking my daughter to the dentist tomorrow.
He is Canadian, a lech but thinks he's smooth, and not at all good looking.
My daughter enjoys going just to see me squirming.
And I don't get any discount on his fees!

Lizzie said...

Have just caught up with you, M & M. Do try if you can to find a good dentist asap. I am off to see mine this afternoon; and again on Friday. I don't have a horror of dentists, just extractions & I fear I may be about to loose my 1st tooth, sob. Don't leave it too late!

Anonymous said...

Hmm.. Will you be having a 'walkway' built, like the real Grand Canyon, so that people can inspect the hole in your tooth via a transparent glass floor ??

Check out that film 'Oldboy' which had 15 minutes of fame recently. I don't know about being 'ultra violent', but it does have some handy ways to save on Dental bills using a claw hammer.. Not one to watch the night before your annual check up at the dentist's surgery, that's for sure...

Anonymous said...

beta mum - this isn't true. I made a fuss and got an NHS dentist, having rather rashly allowed my relationship with my previous NHS dentist wither and die for the feeble reason he was 6 miles away from where I now live.

Moral of the story is to hang on to the one you've got, I suppose..

But, folks, let's be honest - if we could afford to drive a Porsche on 3 days work a week, would any of us go and do and NHS work for the good of society ?

mutterings and meanderings said...

Debio, at least you have one!

Lizzie, hope it went OK for you.

Anon, I could wax long and lyrical about the fact I pay my Nat Insurance and have been to the doctor twice in the past 12 years, or that I haven't been to the dentists since the expensive barsteward I have been writing about. It is the principle of the thing. It's like my council tax - I pay an awful lot for a street light and the removal of my rubbish.

Anyway, I have - after four phone calls - pinned one down. My tooth will be dealt with a week on Thursday. i will still have to pay £40-odd ... and that's on the NHS.

lady macleod said...

A tale of horror for sure and for certain.

selva said...

I’m planning to get my nose straightened… I find this is good info for people who would try to know something about rhinoplasty

Sarah said...

When I told my Raleigh cosmetic dentist that I wanted veneers, he also recommended some procedures first. Since I needed veneers for my two front teeth only, he bleached the others so that the whiteness would look even. I also got white fillings to further boost the whiteness and protect my teeth from cavities. Fortunately, I also got my veneers from that good dentist in Raleigh. Cosmetic dentistry has definitely improved my confidence!