Dentists and anything dentist-related are my Achilles heel. From 1965 to 1968, I was at Sultan Abdullah School in Kuantan. Those were memorable days basking in all the attention since it was an all boys’ school and the only girls around were from the Express and Special classes. Every week, if my memory serves me well, an ambulance would come by with a couple of nurses. They would appear at your classroom door and call out what I refer to as the “death roll call”. Whenever I see the ambulance roll into the school’s compound, I would excuse myself and hid in the toilet. There was one occasion when I did not see the ambulance driving in. All I remembered was that the minute I saw the nurses at the door, I disappeared under my table. But my teacher saw me and that was that. A number of us were led to the ambulance-like vehicle – it’s actually a van but painted to look like an ambulance – and was driven to the Dental Clinic at Jalan Gambut. Here you have no choice but to go through the drill … checkup, fill cavities, extraction and advice. So what is so frightening then? The DRILLING and EXTRACTION of course. The sound of the drill is unbearable and the minute it hits a nerve in the pulp cavity, the pain is unbearable. Extraction involves the removal of a bad tooth and therefore, your gums have to go to sleep and this involves injections. You can see the needle so close to your face.
Throughout my life, I only go to the dentist when the pain is unbearable. No regular checkups for me. Thus my dental works are not as good as it should be. I have always noted that I will “do up my teeth” at the Faculty of Dentistry before I retire, but I never did. Finally my teeth (that means many many tooth) got the better of me and I finally secured an appointment. After a thorough check and x-rays, the Professor ran through the things that needs to be done and the list was long. I waited and waited and waited (it was a very long wait) before I was contacted by Dr. A (that’s not even his real initial for professional reasons) and he said that he’ll be handling my case.
So this is my 6th visit and a lot has taken place. The technology and instruments are much better now. The chair is much more comfortable and you get to put on shades to protect your eyes from the glaring lights. My dentist is really good and the nurses are nice. Up until now I have received numerous injections and I’m ok with it … I chalk this down to the age factor and probably labour pains. But I still HATE the whirring sound of the drills.
My daughters? The eldest … her first ever visit was to a dentist in Ipoh. Her father and I were careless with her and she heard the shouts and screams of another child. From then on, she had problems with dentists. On her 2nd visit to a dentist in Subang Jaya, she ran down the stairs and was trying to walk home while I was registering her. After that I left her dental visits to my late father aka her grandfather and my brother-in-law aka her uncle. They were instrumental in the removal of her milk teeth. Till today, she takes very good care of her teeth and visits the dentist are rare.
My youngest was introduced to the dentist when we were in Leeds and she’s lucky. When we entered the dentist’s room then, there were cartoon characters on the walls, ceilings and instruments. The dentist was very children-friendly. So, my youngest has had no problems with dentists and my eldest’s fear for dentists was greatly minimised with her experience in Leeds.
My grandaughter … I advised her mum aka my eldest daughter to introduce her to dental visits early. The first visit was tearful minus the screams. I give credit to the dentist and nurses who were pacifying her with words and lots of caressing. Her next and subsequent visits were drama-free.
My take on this one … when going to the dentist, first experience does matter and I guess I’m coming to terms with dentists and anything dental related. But the dentist did say that I need to have two teeth extracted and I’m dreading the day.