OPINION: All smiles as dentist fear is faced head-on

Peter FiorenzaGeraldton Guardian
Ageing bodies often require more maintenance.
Camera IconAgeing bodies often require more maintenance. Credit: Erik Isakson/Getty Images/Tetra images RF

Up until a couple of years ago, I was not a regular visitor to the doctor.

In fact, you could say I virtually never went to see a GP.

But turning 50 seemed to put an end to that.

As you get older, the body starts to malfunction (for want of a better word), and such trips become somewhat unavoidable.

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There is certainly nothing wrong with going to the doctor and, quite honestly, my GP is a fabulous bloke who loves a chat and always makes you feel at ease.

So at this stage, I’m pretty happy that I’m only on limited medication and get to catch up with him every few months or so.

Now, just when I thought things were running along hunky dory, all of a sudden I started getting toothaches.

Again, I’ve never had any trouble with my teeth, yet it would seem time is certainly catching up with me.

The upshot of the situation is that I ended up having the tooth removed.

Seemed straightforward enough, but, unfortunately, there was more.

Despite my teeth being in reasonable shape, there was one problem that had to be addressed.

My lovely dentist took an X-ray of my teeth and jaws and flashed them up on a small monitor in front of me.

“Peter, your teeth all seem pretty fine,” she said.

“But you have some gum problems.”

Oh gee, I thought, what does that mean — is it serious?

Am I going to lose my teeth?

Is my jaw going to get infected? I could sense a slight perspiration across my forehead and I started to feel a little hot.

Well, you know what?

Within moments, Cindy had put me at ease.

“Peter, this is something that is very common with people your age and older, and there are some things we can do to effectively deal with it.”

And deal with it we have.

Along with a self-management plan, she advised that I put my teeth through one of her professional cleaning processes.

This seemed to be quite an involved affair, and when she told me there would be some water sprayed into my mouth, and perhaps a degree of pain as she administered the cleaner, I started to get nervous.

Well, the day of the appointment, I tried not to think too much about it, but before long it was time to visit the surgery.

She met me with her lovely smile and started to talk me through the procedure, reminding me it might hurt.

As she went through it step by step, all I wanted to do was get it over and done with.

Well, I don’t know what the fuss or this fear of dentists is all about. I would even go as far as to say, the process was almost therapeutic.

Well, once I learnt to deal with the water thing, that is.

* Peter Fiorenza is the host of Fiorenza on Sunday, from 10am to noon on Radio MAMA.

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