My mouth really is an expression of NHS dentistry.
Once, when I was young I had a nice NHS Dentist to whom I delivered The Independent on Sundays and the Guardian on Saturdays (I am terrified that I haven’t had that paper round for over ten years and I can still tell you what went where). He wasn’t big on braces even though my parents though I should have them and as a result I have crooked teeth (although, presumably since he was the dentist and my parents have never trained dentally they’d have been crooked anyway). Instead of braces he removed two teeth whilst I was under general anasthetic. Unfortunately they turned out to be milk teeth and grew back… My Dad blames this for the point when I was twelve I had to go and have three fillings.
Personally I’m inclined to blame a liking for sugary drinks and sweets.
In anycase, I had three fillings and, at the time they were the black fillings. Fair enough. I was twelve and found it all very exciting.
Time rolled on and my liking for sweets and sugary drinks never abated, but presumably my dental hygiene became better as I only had to have one more filling after the age of thirteen. I was about sixteen and at that time the dentist could offer the more modern white fillings so they were less obvious, not only that but he offered to replace all the black fillings with the white stuff so they were less obvious. Curiously enough for a sixteen year old girl (and given my insecurities about my teeth) I didn’t much care but my Mum insisted. So all four fillings were whited out…a bit like Tipp-Ex for teeth or something.
Roll further forward, I’m twenty two and am living in Japan where dentistry costs. I don’t get my teeth looked at for two years. I still like sweets and sugary drinks. In fact, given that this is Japan, land of Melon Soda, the sugary drink consumption goes up and buying toothpaste for the first three months is a matter of trial and error. Mouthwash by contrast is much easier as the pictures on mouthwash are much more obvious.
Aged twenty five I go to the dentist. I have a choice, either root canal work for two hundred and fifty pounds, possibly more or remove a tooth for eighty quid. I am unemployed, it isn’t really a choice; I have a tooth removed. I leave that dental practise as a result of splitting up with my boyfriend and struggle to find another, in fact this kind of goes on hold until today.
Twenty eight, head into the dentists and get checked out as part of getting registered. I’m missing a tooth, growing two more wisdom teeth (seriously, how many more can there be?) and have four fillings, three of which need to be replaced.
This is the bit which amuses me.
I have a choice. I can either have the modern white filling at £300 plus the cost of the dentist, or, I can have the old-fashioned black fillings that I started out with for £49.60 less the £16.50 I paid for todays registration/appointment. Lets see then…now I admit, I have the savings to do the modern white fillings, it’s just that they’re earmarked for Peru and I want to go to Peru. But, it occurred to me, I should really have three black fillings there anyway, or that’s what I started out with, I had white teeth for the period in my life when it would have mattered most my late teens. I’m not going to complain now. At least we have dental care in this century and country!
So, back to black on the 20th January then. And on with my sweets and sugary drinks. I think I’m not doing too badly, since the age of twelve I’ve only lost one tooth and had one filling…