I’ve always had lousy teeth in spite of a relatively healthy diet, and I’ve had to endure hours of agony in the dentist’s chair as a kid. I still remember staring at a Moomin (a Finnish children’s icon) poster in the ceiling through my tears, trying desperately to think of ice-cream as the cheerful dental assistant had instructed, but to no avail. The pain was horrendous. It was nothing to do with ice-cream. I never really grew to like the Moomins either.
The dentist was a nice enough old man who gave me toys afterwards but there was no doubt in my young mind of what he was doing. He was torturing me. This was made worse by the fact that the stuff they injected to numb my mouth didn’t actually work on me all that well and I felt both the pain from the injection as well as the subsequent torture.
As an adult I had three of my wisdom teeth removed. The first one hurt so much (even though the dentist kept saying “you’re just feeling the pressure”) that I couldn’t stop crying and felt like a fly that’s been swatted and left to die for the rest of the day. For the next two extractions I was wiser and told the dentist to apply as much of the anesthetic as possible. He gave me six injections after which I felt just a little bit of pain, but I endured it gladly. It wasn’t that bad.
I haven’t been to a dentist for a few years. The last time I went, the dentist said that while my final wisdom tooth was okay, it was basically useless so if I got bored I should come and have it taken out. I haven’t gotten that bored yet.
This is why I have felt like such a big liar when my kids have gone to their dental check-ups and I’ve told them “there’s nothing to worry about, it won’t hurt one jot!” (Luckily they haven’t been drilled yet.) That’s also why I was so thrilled to read about this new Australian study that came out just a day or two ago. These people have researched a way to treat small cavities without the drill. No more drill and fill. Just apply some fluoride varnish and brush better. I am so thrilled.
The researchers realized that instead of being a rapidly progressing disease, it takes about four to eight years for the first signs of dental decay to progress into a full-blown cavity. The initial signs of decay, which are on the tooth’s outer layer, the enamel, won’t progress to the inner part, the dentine for years, unlike the ignorant dentists of my childhood thought. The best part is that these researchers have come up with a solution to stop and reverse this initial decay with a high-concentration fluoride varnish.
Some of the stuff in this study was very familiar. They recommended to reduce the amount of snacks (I still refuse to believe that coffee is a snack), and develop better brushing skills. Been there, done that. Of course this study doesn’t mean that you can eat what you like and never brush, but I’m cool with that. I’m willing to do my part as long as they keep that drill away from me. With this new study I hope to gain some courage to enter the dentist’s office again. If they find a small cavity, I’ll order some fluoride varnish while brandishing this study. If they find a large cavity I might still have to run.
The days of the Drill are counted. I hope.
Here’s the link to the article I read on the subject: