Thursday, July 21, 2016

I've been pretty busy doing some intensive quilting over the last two weeks, but deadlines have been met, quilts delivered and I hope to have a bit of a rest this weekend. In the midst of the  heavy quilting schedule I developed an infection under a tooth and had to have that dealt with, which made me think about why I hate going to the dentist so much.

I have to admit that in my adult life I have rarely experienced much actual pain while having dental work, but in our childhood, the '60's era, there was one local dentist who was known as "The Butcher". As children, we didn't know that, and our Mum just told us to be brave, so we endured visits to him as best we could. He didn't believe in analgesics for anything but removing a tooth, and my terror of drills is directly traceable to him. If you flinched he growled "Be still!" and kept on going. He was fierce and smelly and had wiry hair growing out of his hands, but I can't remember his face except for horn rimmed glasses, because it was better if you kept your eyes shut.


Looking back I really think he might have been a sadist, and enjoyed the pain he inflicted on us. I thought he might have been better with adults, but our SIL went to him as a young woman and he was so horrible she never went back.

I don't think Mum ever knew how much pain he caused, and in our family you didn't complain, you just dealt with things. When we were in primary school a Dental Clinic opened in another school and we were all trucked over there en masse. They discovered so much work to be done it was genuinely astonishing, but no-one complained because at least they were preferable to the Butcher (and I think it was free). I can remember Mum wondering why our teeth were suddenly so bad, but years later a teacher from that time told me one of the dentists from that clinic admitted they were all training, and did a lot of the work "for practice". Again, no one complained or got a second opinion.

In my adult life a lot of those fillings fell out and had to be repaired, and one tooth broke repeatedly until there was nothing much left to save. So I wanted it removed, despite the very nice young dentist's offers to try and save it.

While I was waiting in the chair I thought of a story our older neighbour had told me years before. She was a child in the thirties, and they were very poor, living in a little cottage 12 miles from town. When she was ten or eleven she developed a raging toothache and after putting up with the agony for a day she and her mother set out to walk along the train lines into town. This was marginally shorter than the road, and they walked all the way there; someone (probably the barber) pulled out the tooth with no painkillers, and then they walked all the way home. She was grateful because the pain was so much relieved, and while she realised that it seemed quite barbaric she said that's what you did in those days.

So while I was sitting there enduring the pushing and pulling and having a tooth with very stubborn roots removed, I thought of her and was thankful for modern dental practice, and I may have cursed those trainees from my childhood a bit too.

4 comments:

Karen July 21, 2016  

The dentist I went to as a child was good for that period of time. But going to the dentist nowadays is so much more preferable. Hardly any pain. But oh the cost! One could purchase a lot of fabric for just what a cleaning costs.

Gypsy Quilter July 21, 2016  

I empathize completely! My mouth has been a train wreck all of my life. In my 30's the fillings disintegrated and I spent almost 2 years having crowns and root canals, selling quilts and teaching classes to help pay for it all. As adults we can now say, "I need nitrous oxide" (laughing gas). Not every dentist will use it, but I won't go to a dentist unless they do. Also having music or a book to listen to through ear buds helps greatly. Sure hope you can get yours fixed so it causes no more pain. We had enough as kids.

Susan Smith July 22, 2016  

You poor thing, no wonder you don't like the Dentist. Hope all is well now. I also noticed on your last post that 'old' book, which is one I have lurking somewhere too. Your quilt from it is looking great. Although I don't usually comment I just thought I would. Oh, are you & Kerryn going to the Melbourne Quilt show next week? Take care.

Jayne Hill September 16, 2016  

Your dentist had a twin, but not a nice one like yours :)

Dentist twin worked in the small village where I grew up. His practise was housed in an old nissan hut and like you, we endured brutal treatment every six months that would not be permitted now. But it was an age when 'children were seen and not heard' and complaining was not even to be considered, let a one allowed. As a result, I have a mouth full of old mercury/amalgam fillings and I am still terrified of going to a dentist.

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