“Isn’t it about time you get your teeth looked at?” That was one of the first things my wife came up with one early morning rising out of bed. “Why, I asked, is there something about my teeth that kept you awake?” “You were gnashing them, all night,” she said stroppily. “Oh, great, lets compare your snoring with my teeth gnashing,” I replied, ready for combat. “It isn’t just your gnashing,.” Helvi said. “Oh boy, is there more,” I said warming up into a nice marital fencing? “Yes, but for now, can you just turn away from me while you are talking, you have either not brushed your teeth last night or you got something sinister travelling inside your mouth”, she said. I thought that was quite a funny thing to say. She won.
I took the hint, and made an appointment with the local dentist. It was some years since I last visited one. Helvi had already made several visits to this new dentist who has his practise inside an old weather-board cottage. The outside is painted a stark white. The picket fence at the front is also pearly white. By squinting and using imaginary projections it is almost possible to see a perfectly formed white toothed mouth. There is a board hanging outside; ‘Family Dentist.’ The gleaming whiteness of it all is the best advertisement for this dental surgery. It impressed us enough, and that is the reason why Helvi decided to get her teeth checked out there. She is not scared of dentists. Not many women are.
She had already warmed me up by telling me that this dentist is very calm who explains the procedure in the greatest detail. Helvi seemed very impressed. I like calmness in dentists and would certainly not have my teeth fixed by a nervous or very agitated dentist.
I arrived promptly at 10.30 am and was met by a very nice bare armed secretary. She wore a blue floral shirt with a white open collar. Her previously mentioned arms were decorated with a modest arrangement of silver bangles around her wrists. There were no other adornments, not even earrings. She seemed kind and reassuring. If I was a dog I would not have minded being walked around town for a bit by her. I would definitely try and refrain from lifting my hind leg.
She gave me a large sheet to fill in. The sheet had all sorts of questions regarding any illnesses or diseases, suffering at present or suffered in the past. Was I pregnant etc? One question that stood out, and shows how far we have arrived in how people are now considered with so much more dignity and empathy was; Was I nervous and if so; what was my level of nervousness? I filled in that I had no nervousness at all. If the secretary had been less friendly and welcoming, I could well have answered with honesty ,and filled in ‘very bloody nervous.’ I can’t say that dentists and I have ever been close soul mates.
I also signed that I took all responsibility and more importantly would pay in full after each treatment. I sat down and waited for the dentist to call me in. The walls of the waiting room were adorned with nice pictures, all meant to calm and ready us. There were some magazines but no hunting or car racing magazines. No deadly accidents or photos of shot pigs.
I was called in by Craig and we shook hands. He was the dentist. It is always comforting when first names are being used by the medical fraternity. I can’t imagine that being normal back in Holland where things used to be much more formal. Perhaps that has changed as well. It is all becoming friendlier, I hope. The dental chair is what struck me first. I have never seen a chair so modern. It had in front a screen on which a projection of a photo of a grizzly bear in a forest was shown. I had hardly absorbed this image when it was replaced with a penguin surrounded by a vast polar expanse, all white. The penguin was large and I suppose it might have been an Emperor. It all looked very nice and peaceful
Craig sat down and crossed his legs in an amicable fashion. He explained in a friendly and calming manner what he was going to do and after perusing my medical sheet, he promised “no great drama.” “You have no medical problems now nor in the past.” He reassured me, and he chatted on how long he had been practising his dentistry art. “Your wife told me you used to have a farm”, he added.
It was after this brief chat that he examined my mouth. His assistant took my glasses, hearing aids and other paraphernalia around and inside my mouth. We are going to take some x-rays, he said. All in all nothing too intrusive. It was over fairly quickly. “It will take about three visits,” he said. “There are some teeth that are split and there is a built up of tartar, a few fillings have come out. Nothing insurmountable.”
I was ushered back into the waiting room.
Nothing too bad. Almost a nice experience.