Dentists…. Yuk… the very word fills most of us with fear. Luckily we are not dragged into the surgery, on a lead, like our poor dogs who dislike a visit to the Vet with the same intensity.
I find it is best to have a morning dental appointment, despite the fact ‘I do not do mornings’ then it is over and done with and the rest of the day is for stress recovery.
Visiting a dentist in France is a nerve wracking experience, especially if they do not speak English. Although the benefit of not having to speak with your mouth open is a blessing.
The dentist I used to visit at our last house in Correze was very sweet. He spent a lot of time away on courses but also a lot of time away as he was a rugby fanatic and followed the French team to every game.
My first encounter involved being ushered into the surgery. The Dentist was already wearing his ‘marigolds’ and shook my hand. During the course of the inspection he took two telephone calls, wearing the same gloves, and then continued his treatment of my mouth. When I left we shook hands again and he then proceeded to shake hands with the next patient and ushered him into his den of torture. As a nurse I was rather concerned at this lack of hygiene, but hey ho, at least the dentist was safe from germs from the patients.
I had occasion to visit him again when a mild toothache in the lower right part of my jaw developed into the most agonising pain I have ever experienced; worse than giving birth four times. I had spent the previous night literally ‘pacing the floor’ trying to relieve the pain and eventually went to the local ‘urgences’ (A&E) as the pain was so unbearable.
I was assessed by a nurse who set up an IV drip and gave me two morphine infusions. When these failed to reduce the pain she had to call a doctor to authorise a third infusion. I eventually limped home at about 8 a.m. and rang the dentist’s surgery for an emergency appointment.
I was seen at about 11 a.m. and it was discovered I had a raging abscess under the double tooth at the bottom right of my mouth. Of course this cannot be treated dentally, for fear of the infection entering the bloodstream, so I was prescribed antibiotics and told to visit my GP as the dentist was not allowed to prescribe morphine based painkillers.
After a week the infection was still there so I was prescribed IM injections of antibiotics. These were administered on a daily basis by a nun at a local convent who was a registered nurse. During this time the pain did not really lessen and I was totally exhausted.
Then problems arose with my jaw. I was unable to open my mouth more than an inch and had to eat off a spoon. I had another emergency appointment and the dentist decided to refer me as an extreme emergency to a surgeon in Tulle and an appointment was made that afternoon. I was told to expect admission to hospital for surgery.
This next bit is not for the squeamish and I apologise for scaring anyone, but I have never in my life been treated in such a dreadful manner.
The Surgeon took x rays of my mouth and said the tooth had to be removed immediately. He then proceeded to inject a local anaesthetic on the outer gum. He could not put one on the inside of the gum as of course my mouth would not open.
He then proceeded, with a little electric jigsaw, to slice through the offending tooth. Oh my God, I nearly went ballistic. I screamed so loudly my husband rushed into the surgery to see what was going on. The surgeon told me not to be a baby and continued sawing to break the tooth up. My heart was pounding and I really hoped I would pass out, or preferably die.
Eventually he finished the attack and proceeded to pull out all the little bits. My husband held my hand and looked so worried as I continued to scream and literally kick my legs in anguish.
When it was all over I found it hard to stand, I was so dizzy and breathing very heavily. Eventually, with jelly legs, we left after paying in excess of one hundred euros for this absolute abuse.
This chap had not asked about any health conditions I may have, medications I was taking or how I felt about pain. In my opinion it was a dangerous practice. I understand the tooth had to come out, in fact I was on antibiotics for another month, but deary me this was barbaric.
Anyway I survived, just, and put the whole thing down to experience.
Our new dentist in Normandy does the same thing with the gloves business, and she even taps on the computer too without changing them.
My only real gripe with French dentists is why, when it is known you need three or four appointments, don’t they give you all the dates at the first visit? It always seems to be a month at least between visits as they insist on making the next appointment each time you visit.
Oh well, at least I still have my own teeth, except of course the one that caused the day of torture.
© Diana Newnham