She was not pleased – I could tell. She was not pleased at all with my flossing. I had patently let her down – my technique, despite her best efforts to coach me, was less than satisfactory. Did she chide me? No, she is far too gracious for that. To do so would be far too against her nature – my angel of the molars. She is gentle, she is calming – she is simply the best I’ve ever had. Still, despite her many virtues, a trip to her rooms still gives me sweaty palms and an unsettled tum. I think, even though I’ve nothing to fear in the least, it is a hangover from my tender years when dentistry was associated with steam-punk drilling devices and pain. Practitioners back then, all male, seemed curt, unfeeling and their ability to produce excruciating aches, when supposedly having completed their best efforts to get my teeth in some sort of order, was the stuff of childhood nightmares. Yes, I know. I was and am a wimp. It seems to me that male dentists expect you to be all hairy chested about what happens in their chair and patient discomfort goes with the territory. This, though, is not the territory of my paragon of dental tenderness. Never, in her competent care, have I felt more than the slightest twinge – and even that causes me to flinch like a baby. She soothes away inter-molar detritus with aplomb and probes with dexterity. I don’t think I’ll ever lose my nervousness beforehand, nor the relief when another pain free session under her auspices is over. My bicuspids and their colleagues have lucked in to have this marvellous woman in charge of their fortunes.
In the years before my move to Hobart my dental care had fallen by the wayside. Once upon a time I had another angel in a white coat – a blonde, cool, almost austere Slav who was constantly congratulating herself on her heroic deeds in saving some of my deplorable excuses for teeth. But she, too, was gentle and my experiences with her were always positive. But then her practice burnt down and that was that. My dental hygiene was cast out into the wilderness again. It took the urging of my beloved to get me back into the chair. She had been extolling the virtues of her amazing Dr Gupta for some time to build up my confidence – and after the first visit I knew – I was hers for life.
I am not solo in recounting my dental experiences in recent times. Age columnists Anson Cameron and Benjamin Law have done similar – recalling with incisiveness expeditions into the realm of the remediation of their incisors. The former’s description of his humiliation, when his dentist placed what she found in his oral orifice on a magnified screen above his head, is priceless. My angel has never been as heartless as Cameron’s Dahlia Fink, but this dentist’s skills seemed to have been up to the task of remedying the mess he stared agape at. But when it comes to price, it would seem my goddess wins hands down – very reasonable for what she has to put up with in me. Mr Law, meanwhile, regales us with his school time’s excursions to Fran, who never failed him in her unrelenting search for cavities to painfully plug. He tells of a Hong Kong mother addicted to sweets and what is amiss from ‘Downton Abbey’ from a dental point of view – and gives us all a few hints about our techniques with dental husbandry as well. As competent as Fran and Dahlia were with their ministrations, I wouldn’t change my dental angel for the world. I at last feel virtuous when it comes to my enamelled tombstones as I am now a regular attendee at Hopkins Street Dental, instead of avoiding its ilk at all costs. I know my saviour probably regards me as the biggest wuss of all time – and a sook too – but, such is her way, she would never countenance a hint of that as she does the rounds of my chompers. Whether or not I will ever lose that jelly-legged feeling when it comes to dentistry I do not know – at my age there seems little chance, but we’ll see. For now I am not plagued with fear and I am thankful for that. So thank you, dental angel, for your care of this old fellow and his sensibilities – you are worth your weight in gold filling.
Mr Cameron’s dental recollections = http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/hells-teeth-20140725-zwtlz.html
Mr Law’s dental recollections = http://www.theage.com.au/comment/unwritten-law/holey-molars–take-care-of-your-teeth-20140815-104dge.html