Last week, I had the regular dental check-up, however, this was far from regular.
Last year, my dentist retired. I had been going to the same dentist forever – he took out baby and adult teeth to make room for braces so he was well trusted. However, like many, once reaching a certain age, the end of the career arises. We were given plenty of notice and had planned to stay with the same practice as long as a replacement dentist could be found. This didn’t happen, in time, so we started to look for a new place to go.
We found it, the new dentist. Friday afternoon, was the first session. We went into reception checked in. We were then given directions to the waiting room – out the front door, down the street and up some stairs – hardly the start we were expecting. I was then nervous about asking where the toilets were but found my way to a pokey little unisex toilet. There was probably more space in my mouth, pre-teeth being taken out than there was in this toilet. The foot pedal bin was so close to the toilet it couldn’t fully open, the tissue used to dry hands, was also needing to be used in place of loo roll, not quite the first impression I was hoping for.
We then bounded up the stairs to reach the dentist waiting room. The lack of space theme continued in the waiting room. This doesn’t really matter when all you’re there for is to have your teeth checked. The hygienist then popped out to click the X-ray and popped back in. I was then called in for the appointment.
I’m probably not the standard patient, I bounded in said “good afternoon, how are you?” and was probably too cheery for their standard patient. A quick scan of the room and I was amazed there was room for the chair to go back and to fit everyone in. I politely asked if there was space for my coat. The chair that was squeezed in the corner was where I was told to leave my coat.
I hoped in the chair and it was lowered for the checkup. The light was shone in and the new sterile tools ripped out of their bag. The mouth was opened, and the dentist then asked if I had had any teeth taken out for braces. I wasn’t too sure if she needed to be told, given the fact that I was obviously missing some but I proudly told her “I’ve had all my fours taken out” she then relayed to the hygienist that I had all fours missing and the eights had erupted. I knew this before sitting down. I was then asked if I was okay having an X-ray. The seat was raised, I bit on some uncomfortable plastic square and X-rays taken.
The dentist then asked if I wanted them cleaning today – I was under the impression this was happening, so said “if you don’t mind” so the chair was laid back down, paper over my top. Hygienist got the suction ready and water squirted in a crazily quick fashion and that was it, session done. I was then offered a rinse, the dentist told me X-rays were all good. Again, I piped up, “is everything else ok?” “yes”. I jumped up, grabbed my coat and wished her a nice day.
I don’t think I’ve ever had an appointment finish so soon before it was due to. The speed was really quite impressive but given in the speed my bottom lip was dropped a few times when checking what was in my mouth, the speed didn’t fill me with confidence.
Dentristy is probably safe from automation. I doubt I’ll be happy to have a robot check my teeth or pull any out so can assume that the personal skills of a dentist will keep them in a job. However, this dentist lacks any real personal skills so is probably no different to a robot counting what is there. I don’t need my dentist to be my best bud, but I’d quite like to think they can hold a conversation and put you at ease when sliding into the dentist chair.
The dilemma, alluded to in the title, is should we stay or should we go? Will moving find a dentist that has room for the dentist to have a personality? Or will we search for another to find a new character that doesn’t put our minds at rest?