Home' Waiheke Weekender : 13 September 2012 Contents 13 September 2012
2 Waiheke Weekender
of the frst things
ing $20 million
richer is “at last I
can afford to get
my teeth fxed ”;
which is prob-
ably a fair indica-
tion of the bill.
There is no
time as inconve-
nient as middle age for fnding out that your
ancient dental work is in need of a major over-
haul or you will be on a slippery slope to a
toothless old age.
Just when you’ve acquired a hefty mortgage,
children to educate and various appliances that
have died and must be expensively replaced,
you are suddenly obliged to spend the equiva-
lent of a small country’s GDP on maintaining
your imperfect smile.
I remember while I was pregnant – and
without a job or a sign of one in the future –
I was cheerfully informed that having babies
rots your teeth and makes them fall out.
Then after I had my baby, later in my biolog-
ical life than was probably practical, I was told
that all the ancient molar fllings that had been
done in the days when dentists thought mercu-
ry was a good idea, would require crowns or
root canals or preferably, both at once.
And the price of this happy little ‘plan’ had
so many zeros in it, I thought it was a bank
account number not a cost estimate.
Then there’s the cosmetic, bad-for-the-
vanity stuff like your teeth gradually turning
yellow, until you resemble someone whose
been a nicotine addict all their lives when
you’ve barely touched a cigarette.
Yes the joys of middle age keep on surpris-
ing me, and the teeth issue is ongoing.
Last week, I had a wisdom tooth out for the
frst time ever. In fact I can’t recall having an
extraction before and I was quite cool and calm
about it until I started talking to other people.
That was a mistake.
By the time I arrived at the dental surgery,
I had grisley visions of blood and gore, a face
swollen to puffer fsh proportions and a patho-
logical fear of the pain that would be jangling
through my head like a jackhammer for several
days, if not a week.
In the event, none of these things were the
case. The injections were painless, the process
was short and effciently done, the tooth itself
came out without protest and the aftermath was
uneventful, if perhaps mildly tender.
Visitors to Waiheke take note; our dentists
are excellent at dealing with wimps like me.
Now I might just have been lucky, but I
do think the pain in modern dentistry is more
likely to be in the bill than anywhere else.
Anyone who remembers the good old days
of the ‘Murder House’, where the toxic smell
of that ghastly purple stuff they slopped all over
the place mingled alluringly with the smoke
from the foot pedal
drill, will know
we’ve got it sweet
In those days
of course, you
nate and decide you
had other plans on
the day the dental
nurse called your
You simply had
to front up and
hope the experi-
ence wouldn’t be too ghastly, while thinking
hopefully ahead to that little teddy bear stamp
you would get for all your pain and suffering
at the end of it.
Thinking back to that extended torture, was
a stamp really the best they could do?
I still remember the red cardigan our nurse
wore, probably because I saw her at very
close proximity more often than I would have
It was pinned with a badge stating her name,
which I thought said something like ‘Ooot
Possum’. Perhaps it was Dutch.
I occupied myself with these sorts of
thoughts in preference to thinking about the
grinding pain in my jaw.
I do know of adults my age and older who
are either so terrifed of the pain or the bill or
both, that they put off going to the dentist for
literally years; is the name for this dentopho-
bia, dental phobia? It’s actually a recognised
In some cases I suppose they might get
away with it, but I have a built in ‘sensible’
gene that tells me I probably wouldn’t and
that’s its better to get it over with.
I also have an unreasonable fear of losing
my teeth based on seeing my father trying to
manage with false ones and the hassle this
seemed to cause him.
And having rotten ones out cheaply instead
of fxing them expensively is not advisable
either apparently, even if they’re not ‘in your
smile’ as they say.
If you’ve ever tried to eat anything fast or
effciently with big gaping holes in your mouth,
you get the idea.
So while it can
be tempting to
think of exchang-
ing your imper-
teeth for a set of
ones, I believe the
in dentistry is if
they can possibly
be repaired, hang
on to them... at all
There can’t be many of us who haven’t had
that classic anxiety dream that involves some-
how fnding yourself without teeth, or with
crumbling teeth or teeth that fall out into your
And for me, discovering my teeth swim-
ming in a jar of Steradent is about equivalent
in the nightmare stakes.
So it looks like the dentist and I are destined
to become regularly, if not intimately, acquaint-
Perhaps I will buy that ticket for Big
Something in your smile
The first word
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Anyone who remembers the
good old days of the
'Murder House', where the
toxic smell of that ghastly purple
stuff they slopped all over the place
mingled alluringly with the smoke
from the foot pedal drill, will
know we've got it sweet now. '
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