“Then and Now “ by Sue Field Practice Manager Beacon Dentalcare

As someone who was born in the 1950’s my memories (or should I say mental scars) of visiting the dentist was not a positive experience. I was filled with dread when those appointments turned up on the calendar at home. This is what greeted me on those horrific days:

Cold, uninviting, torturous and enough to scare even the boldest child!

So my generation’s fear of dentists stems from the quite barbaric way we were treated by the 1950s NHS school dentists. Many passing would not know what lurked behind that green front door but for a small name plate attached to the wall.

On entering that clinical smell hit you! It was unavoidable. Then those sounds of that screeching drill coming from behind the wooden surgery door. All I could imagine was some other poor soul laying in that chair being ‘worked’ on. A half a dozen old dining room chairs were lined up around the waiting room with a few well-thumbed and out of date, so called magazines on a small table in the corner. This was all one had to distract you from the inevitable… the door opening, and your name being called!!

Probably the one experience that really stands out for me was an extraction. Having had the diagnosis that a tooth must be removed was frightening enough and I cried for days leading up to the extraction appointment. I will never, ever forget that huge rubber mask with the leather straps being attached to my small face (I now know how John Hurt felt in Alien) Then there was the smell. A sickly smell from the unfortunate child that had used it previously. As if that wasn’t enough, the smell then increased as the gas penetrated my nostrils and my body began to go limp. I suddenly realised I was being held down, but it was all too late my consciousness had been snuffed out. I was gone.

Then I remember regaining some awareness. Where was I? What had happened? my I would feel sick and have a headache. I then remember actually being sick! It all came flooding back, I had had an extraction. I felt like I had been punched in the jaw by Henry Cooper. My lips were sore and I had a taste of blood in my mouth. The rubber mask that had been so cruelly strapped to my face hung limply on the end of the tube, its work done.

Much of my childhood dental experiences were as described. Horrific, bad experiences.
From that day on I had a real fear of dentists. Not the people, just the acts they perform. So it took all my strength and courage to accompany my own children to their appointments. However I did see that things had begun to change. The establishments were becoming brighter, more airy, more child-friendly. The treatments were becoming more about prevention, than cure and the practitioners were patient, kind and sensitive. Time had moved on and for the better.

Now age 65 I actually work in a dental practice. No, not the clinical side, I am a Practice Manager, one that has now seen both sides of dentistry. The good and the bad. Things are so very different now.

Look what greets you today, compared to what I was faced with as a child:

We even have a dedicated room for the children to amuse themselves:

But what about those that are nervous, anxious, have a phobia in today’s world, I hear you ask. Do they have to wear the rubber mask with the leather strap?? Of course not!

We carry out sedation here at Beacon and I’ve even tried it myself, so here is unbiased first hand knowledge of the process from a known anxious patient.

Firstly the gas is ‘happy gas’ ‘laughing gas’ its odourless. The mask is a simple nose covering like this one:

I didn’t find it at all claustrophobic, smelly or scary. At first I thought it wasn’t working because I didn’t feel any different but after a short while I started to feel happy, carefree, euphoric, even a bit giggly. The difference between then and now was that I was still aware of what everyone was saying, I didn’t feel sick, I was still concsious but with a very happy heart and a very carefree attitude. I couldn’t have cared less what treatment was being performed and had a feeling of time being unimportant. It was immaterial how long it was going to take as I didn’t care! As a teenager of the late 60’s I was transported back to that time (peace and love).

“OK Sue, all done” says the dentist and with that in a matter of moments I was back down to earth, normal, unaffected, totally coherent. I was astonished at how relaxed I had felt whilst being sedated. It was, dare I say it, a most pleasant and enjoyable experience. What’s more I had also had the dental treatment I needed without even a single concern or worry. At last I can actually say I HAVE NO FEAR. Sedation makes it a lovely experience and Beacon Dentalcare are proud to be able to offer the service to all those who know they should see a dentist but still have those painful memories of ‘How it was then’.

If you want to find out more about dental sedation then contact the practice on 01684 899492.

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