I've been clearing out my email archives because I have a lot more stored data than I need in my old folders. Among the posts I've kept was a file dated July 2008 that contained a selection of short writings I had totally forgotten.
(But look Ellie - Never. Throw anything. Away. Ever.)
Some of them are interesting. Given my current long-haul dental journey I was fascinated to find this. I've not edited it. Even though it could do with it.
High pitched whining cannot be called a soothing noise. And when it’s coupled with a pastel-painted waiting room, uncomfortable chairs, posters of smiles and three-month old copies of women’s magazines it can be a terrifying experience. Yes – you’re at the dentist.
Most people grow up hating the idea of visiting their dentist and yet the experience is nowhere near as scary as it once was. Modern techniques, effective anaesthetics and improved hardware mean that treatments are almost painless and usually over rapidly these days.
People are also much better at looking after their teeth, cleaning them regularly and watching their diet. Add on the availability of fluoridated water and dental hygiene products and the overall effect is that far fewer people need treatment when they see their dentist.
A six-monthly check-up is precisely that for the majority these days – just a check-up – unless they opt for a range of cosmetic treatments that have replaced the old drill and fill routine.
So why are people so afraid? The fear is almost certainly learned from others; grandparents, parents and friends who have also bought in to the cliché of the scary dentist. It isn’t surprising. When film directors and advertising executives want to imply fear they grab at dental images; the classic encounter between Dustin Hoffman and Lawrence Olivier in Marathon Man is only one example.
Be honest. How long is it since you actually experienced pain while undergoing dental treatment? If you’re under 25 in the UK you’ve probably never experienced treatments other than a quick polish, let alone pain. There might be some discomfort and it is rarely a pleasant experience but it is certainly not one to induce terror. But mention to someone that you have a dental appointment and their immediate reaction is to offer sympathy. Why?