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This is a drill, this is a drill

DentistSo I’m at the dentist[1] taking advantage of my health insurance. Over the next few weeks I fully plan to get my teeth, back and eyes checked out, plus any other nasty ailments (such as that lump) all seen to.

Did you know it’s a common myth that American believe the all Europeans have bad teeth? In the same way that we all think they’re hamburger-eating lard-arse-drive-thru-car and non-passport-holding people, the US of A likes to uphold the myth that we all have nasty brown teeth. (Leigh: Probably to match the colour of your houses)

I’m determined to ask why this is at the dentist this morning, except I don’t get the chance because at every opportunity she can the hygienist is shoving a sharp metal implement into my mouth, scraping the plaque build up off of my gums, and saying things like “So what are doing this weekend?” “Gmmmuuughhch”. “Are you going to a movie tonight?” “Mmmggmphhrthhagh”, and so on. And by the time she’d finished an echoing pain rang around my mouth and I didn’t feel like talking.

The best part though was when she explained what she was about to do next. “I’m going to clean your mouth out with the Gumatron”. I’m not kidding. She actually said that, and I’m going cross eyed trying to look down to see if the shiny sharp thing now ‘whirring’ in my mouth had got that written on the side or if she’s making it up. I have an image of them buying it on the shopping channel one morning, right in between the advert for the Thrustmaster 2000 and Dust-be-gone. Good god.

“Do you have UK insurance that you’ll be paying with” is what I get on the way out. “No, I have US insurance” I answer and start to form a sentence to explain that dental treatment in the UK is free on the NHS, well except it isn’t any more of course, well unless you’re one of the lucky ones that … and I start to realise that the state of dentistry back home is confusing, and that’s probably why we really have all got brown teeth.

I make an appointment to go back in a few weeks time – I have more work that needs to be done. And then I get given a free toothbrush, roll of floss, and a half-sized-tube of toothpaste as a free gift in a shiny pink plastic bag that looks like a pencil holder.

I put it into my school back-pack alongside my lunch box and textbooks for that day, and run off to catch the big yellow bus …

[1] Actually known as ‘The restorative and and cosmetic dentistry clinic

11 responses to “This is a drill, this is a drill”

  1. geofftech says:

    A bonus point (and some toothpaste-cleaning-gum) to anyone who found themselves humming the Dirt Devils, btw.

  2. Tina (G's Mum) says:

    Dentistry in the UK is not ‘free’ on the you have to pay National Insurance Contributions when you are working. You also pay part of the cost of each treatment which seems to go up steeply every year. That is if you can still find an N.H.S dentist in your area.
    I have kept the same dentist for 25 years, no matter where I move to I still travel to him twice a year. If UK people have brown teeth, it’s cos they are lazy, or too scared to go for a scale & polish, (ooer I’m due next week!)Last time I went it was £20, probably be £40 now.

  3. Tina (G's Mum) says:

    NHS dentistry is not ‘free’ in the UK, we pay National Insurance Contributions when we are working, and pay for part of the treatment as well. I have been going to the same dentist for 25 years, and although I’ve moved home many times, still travel to him (in case I can’t find another one). If Brits have brown teeth, them they are either too lazy or too scared to go the dentist, it is still reasonably priced, considering the millions spent each year on hairdressing, makeup and grooming products.

  4. Mikey says:

    I read that website site as ‘Alter Ma

  5. Mikey says:


    I had a brace for 2 years, and then had to wear a retainer in bed for 6 months, but gave up after 3. I have the most awful two teeth now, and the overall state is pretty awful. I absolutely hate them, and wish I had the money to go get them properly sorted.

  6. Mikey says:

    Btw, that link at the end has ‘and’ twice.

  7. Leigh says:

    Ok… let’s clarify this a bit. We Americans think Brits have “bad” teeth because, well, they are tea-stained but more shocking to us is that it’s not standard practice for you to wear braces to straighten you teeth.

    See, we Americans like to have straight teeth and I suppose there might be a bit of a faux pas here for people who don’t care enough about their appearance to make them all pretty and lined up. You should do a poll to see how many Americans vs. how many Brits have worn braces.

  8. Richard says:

    Our teeth could be bad because we don’t tend to visit the dentist that often. My last visit was 1996, but I know someone who hasn’t been for over 20 years.

  9. Tina (G's Mum) says:

    Well, Leigh for your info, I wore a brace on my upper set in 1956 for 2 years! Care of the NHS. I had to turn a little screw thing once per day to widen the roof of my mouth. You can have them here if you want them, perhaps it’s not ‘cool’, although I do a lot of teenagers with them now.

  10. Tina (G's Mum) says:

    Love it!

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