This won’t hurt a bit 14



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Whatever you think of Adolf Hitler you would have to agree that for most of the Third Reich he got his own way – well, at least until the last couple of years when things went totally pear-shaped.

Yet the all-powerful Fuhrer was as fearful of his dentist as anybody else.

In October 1940 when he was riding high, he met with the Spanish fascist dictator Franco for what he thought would be a quick and easy meeting, the object being to get Spain into the war on the side of the Axis.

However, the wily Franco was not seduced that easily and the meeting dragged on for nine hours until Hitler, in a towering rage, called it quits. He told aides later that he would rather have all of his teeth pulled than meet Franco again. And they never did meet again.

Who actually likes going to the dentist? Perhaps even dentists don’t particularly like going to the dentist. I’ve always maintained that people only become dentists because they weren’t good enough to be medical practitioners or even vets. That, plus a barely concealed streak of raw sadism.

When I was a kiddie, I had a particularly savage dentist who, as it happens, was a Returned Man and a former POW. I was convinced that Dr Simpson’s alleged treatments were some sort of proxy for what he had wished to inflict on the Japs. His early capture frustrated all of that and, returned more or less in one piece, he embarked on his legally sanctioned fetish to inflict pain.

Just how a civilised person can say, “Now this won’t hurt a bit” and then shove a terrifying number of metal objects down your screech totally escapes me. It did when I was a kiddie and it still does. Freddy Kruger had nothing on him.

One mouth mauler I had along the way had an especially ghoulish sense of humour and a grossly and wholly unjustified sense of his own importance. Hanging on his waiting room wall was Psalm 81.10 which, for the sake of pagan readers, says, “I am the Lord thy God, which bought you out of Egypt: open thy mouth wide and I will fill it”.

I once asked him if he expected me to reply by quoting Psalm 119.131 which, again for the pagans, says, “I opened my mouth and panted: for I longed for thy commandments”. His leering and unwholesome smile revealed his perfectly fitted dentures. What a fraud this man was – preaching “dental health” while not having one of his own toothy-pegs left.

It was only when I discovered by sheer chance that he was a gay chap that I was able to strike back, dubbing him The Tooth Fairy to the vast amusement of his other victims, oops – patients. Funnily enough, that was about the time I took my mouth to another practitioner and did so in the sure and certain knowledge that we were fifteen-all, orally speaking.

The next chap to probe my molars had the upsetting profession-wide practice of talking away after I was rendered voiceless. He also had a peculiar sense of humour and his “jokes” ran to this sort of inanity: Q – why is the profession of dentistry the perfect ideal for all men? A – Because you get to tell women when they can open and close their mouths. Hilarious, isn’t it? Even funnier – especially when you have heard it at least a million times – was his opening gambit after initial inspection, “Well, you need three fillings and you know the drill about that”.

At least having my mouth stretched open gave me the excuse not to dissolve into paroxysms of hysteria.

I did seriously consider reporting these charlatans to whatever the disciplinary outfit is for dentists but I understand that it is a toothless tiger.

And another thing – I am sick and tired of dentists preaching the alleged benefits of fluoride when any number of conspiracy theorists will tell you that it is part of the giant international conspiracy involving commies, the Royal Family, Rotary and the Baptists – and some others – to impose a one-world government.

In any case, why would anybody advocate something which, if true, would ultimately mean that dentistry is seeking its own demise? Even in places which are fluoridated, dentists are busy upgrading from Beamers to Bentleys and taking tax-deductible study trips to the south of France.

But one must try and end on a positive note. Frankly, I’m concerned my dentist might hear of my thoughts and raise the matter when my mouth is torn open by assorted implements that would not have been out of place during the Spanish Inquisition.

He is a thoroughly decent chap who has even been awarded prizes which festoon his walls. One which caught my eye was a little plaque.

Do you like going to the dentist or do you loathe it? When was the last time you went and what happened? Tell us below.

Russell Grenning

Russell Grenning is a Brisbane-based former journalist and retired political adviser who began his career with the ABC in 1968 in Brisbane and subsequently worked on the Brisbane afternoon daily, "The Telegraph" and later as a columnist for "The Courier Mail" and "The Australian". He worked for a string of senior Ministers in the Federal, Victorian and Queensland Governments as well as in senior executive public relations positions, including Assistant Federal Director, Public Relations, for Australia Post, Public Relations Manager for the Queensland Department of Main Roads and Principal Adviser, Corporate Relations, for the Queensland Law Society.

  1. Love your story Russell. My current dentist is a pleasant man (unlike the one I suffered under as a child), but somehow, I still don’t like him!

  2. Very good my dentist is good but it doesn’t stop me being terrified I think they should hand out tranquillisers I had a bad experience years ago having a tooth pulled it broke so had to be drilled out 2 stitches later & a face that looked as if I’d gone 5 rounds with Muhammad ally hence my fear of dentists

  3. I like going to dentist as preventative is far better than cure. Get to it sooner rather later. There are good and bad of course.

  4. Great read Russell thanks very funny. I have a wonderful dentist Aust Chinese tiny she is so gentle.
    Kerry is right its preventative action, we need out teeth don’t want to lose them.

  5. Hi Russell,
    Thank you for once again making our very difficult profession more difficult by dragging out a bunch of old stereotypes. Simple fact is, if you have a healthy diet, brush and floss, and visit for regular hygiene appointments you should never experience a painful dental appointment. Over 95% of dental disease is entirely preventable. Don’t blame us because you have not taken care of yourself. Does a smoker blame his heart surgery on the surgeon?

  6. Dentists charge like wounded bulls – even with private health insurance -why? They’re not surgeons. My husband has had a “quote” for $7000 but ” could be negotiated” – is that professional & ethical advise? Don’t really have to expect to barter the price for treatments. We have decided to have a break in Bali to a dentist there who will perform all the same procedures @ a third of the cost. This decision was not taken lightly & the dentist comes with glowing reports from people we know who have done the same. Their end result is a great set of teeth,crowns etc. With a lot more money left in their hip pocket.

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