Wednesday, 5 May 2004


"Take a seat and I'll be back in a moment to show you round your mouth." So said the qualified Nurse Counsellor when I arrived at the dentists today. Apparently, at the behest of the NHS, dentists are to allow longer intervals between check-ups but provide more in-depth examinations and advice to encourage us to take better care of our teeth. This was the first of my 30 minute Dental Health Assessments, during which I was given a guided tour of my mouth with the aid of a little tv camera, shown how to operate a manual toothbrush and had my teeth and gums poked and pricked. I'd be the first to admit that the inside of my mouth is not my best feature and it wouldn't be the part of me I'd want to appear on television. But there it was on a little monitor, all resplendent in glittering metal and spit. Needless to say, this session cost me more than my previous check-ups, but having now seen an example of what my dentist has to look at every day of his working life, I'm almost inclined to say he earns his money.

For an additional fee - totally optional but recommended - my kindly Nurse Counsellor took a sample of my plaque and put it under a microscope linked to the monitor. Bloody hell! It looked like the compost bin at the bottom of the garden when I first take off the lid! Lots of little wriggling and squirming things which she told me were spirochetes and bummeroids or somesuch, all intent on causing gum disease. The thing about modern medicine is that it has all the tools now to really scare the shit out of you. So it's hardly surprising that she was then easily able to sell me some cute little interdental brushes and a bottle of mouthwash to destroy the wrigglers, though the fact that the mouthwash is composed of hydrogen peroxide leads me to think they'll just become blonde and too stupid to do their thing.

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