The School Dentist

I was seven years of age and in Infants School. Every year, the School Dentist would visit and examine each child's teeth and if you were unlucky enough to need treatment, a letter would be handed out to give to your parents so that they could make an appointment to go to the surgery. This was regardless of whether you had a regular dentist or not.

It was a Friday morning when the dentist made his annual visit. Each child stood in a line waiting his or her turn. When it came to me, the dentist had a good look and made a few comments to his assistant. Later that day I was given a letter to hand to my parents and a few days later I was at the surgery to have two back teeth removed. At the school, the dentist was quite jolly and put most of us at ease. He wore a smart suit and tie, and his attractive assistant was in a jumper and skirt with her blonde shoulder length hair hanging loose. However, at the surgery he was wearing a formidable looking white coat, while she was wearing a white nurse's style dress with her hair tied back, and both looked much more stern and frightening.

The surgery was in a girl's secondary modern school, in a block at the rear of the building, and had seen previous use as a classroom. It had been divided in two with a door connecting the waiting room and the surgery. Each child was called through in turn, and when mine came, I was taken through by the assistant and seated in the chair, leaving my mum in the waiting room. The dentist said nothing as I entered but sat writing at an old school desk. After a couple of minutes, he came over and beckoned me to open my mouth. After a quick examination, he filled a needle with a local anasthetic and inserted it into each gum in turn by the affected tooth. He then went back to his desk for a few minutes and carried on writing.

The anasthetic had a horrible taste and my mouth started to feel funny. I started crying silently but neither the dentist or his assistant said anything to calm me. Then the dentist stood up, walked towards me in the chair and said rather tersely, "Open wide, really wide".

I did as instructed and heard a loud crack, followed immediately by a searing pain through my top gum. The then same again through my bottom gum. Of course, I did as any self respecting seven year old would do in that situation. I screamed the place down! My mum heard it, another little girl in the waiting room heard it, apparently turned a whiter shade of pale and burst into tears and the whole school must have heard it! My mouth was full of blood; the assistant was trying to get me to swill it out but through my tears all I wanted was my mum. When we were eventually reunited I collapsed sobbing ito her arms and she took me home.

I never went back to the school dentist after that and from that day onwards for many years I had a hatred of going to my own dentist, especially if I had to have treatment. My fears were increased when I had to have six baby teeth out by gas at my normal dentist's surgery. I'll never forget the smell of the gas or the mask as it was placed across my nose and mouth.

Gradually my fears lessened and with the modern methods used today, dentistry is relatively painless so I hardly think about it. At least there are no more white coats! My dentist wears a normal shirt and trousers and his assistants are dressed in a smart trouser tunic with the surgery name embroidered on it. They are chatty and soon put any fears at ease and take their time . If only things had been like that over forty years ago.
DebbieDaydream DebbieDaydream
56-60, F
6 Responses Feb 23, 2012

Agree!

i had simliar too

Thanks for the story Debbie and I sympathize with your early experiences.

I've been under Gas Anaesthesia 4 times at the school dentist.

I was gassed at the dentist around 5/6 years old with a rubber nasal and mouth mask. I had great dreams. I remember well the dry feeling in my mouth and a weird buzzing in my ears.

But my gassings at 10 and 11 at the school dentist were quite traumatic. I watched the black rubber mask appear from over my head and clamped over my mouth and nose. After about 5 or 6 breaths I began to panic and thought I was dying as I spiralled and melted into the gassing chair.

However since then it gives me great pleasure to wear a rubber mask and fantasise about being gassed... Dave

My dental gas memories are all about sitting very frightened in the chair covered in a very large red rubber apron my mouth forced open and a awful smelling black rubber mask pressed over my nose. Tried mouth breathing but a second mask was put in place so there was no escape.
Tried to fight my way out of the chair but the nurse held me down under the rubber apron until everything started going round and round and I fell in to a black hole.

OMG. What a horrible memory to overcome. I had a bad experience at 12 with an access and inadequate anesthetic. It kept me from the dentist for a long time but I know I have to go if I want to keep my teeth healthy. I'm glad you finally found a good dentist who doesn't hurt you. They ARE out there.

Having gas at the dentist must have been one of the most traumatic experiences of childhood. No one who went through the ordeal ever forgets the feelings generated as that rubber mask hissing its gas was pressed over the face.
I went out with a Dental Nurse for some months. I used to meet her outside the surgery at noon on a Saturday when she had spent the morning assisting in gas extractions.
She always had a story to relate about how her patients had behaved, or not behaved as they went under the gas.

I was never a fan of dentists when I was young. I had to have an extraction when I was about 7. The worst part for me was that my dentist used gas to put me to sleep. I remember trying to fight away the mask, but of course I was soon asleep. The losing of the tooth was not the bad part for me. My dentist wore a white coat too. I have no problems with dentists now, my current one is very good.