3 Questions for a Dentist

Going to the dentist seems to me like visiting the demon barber of Fleet Street. A ridiculous thought because the modern  dentist is thoroughly hygienic and nearly pain free.


As a child I found them frightening because they wore a mask. What were they hiding? And then they always seemed to ask me so many questions when my mouth was full of cotton wool. I’ve had the works – braces, a plate and all four wisdom teeth pulled out.

My grandparents’ stories of the dentist are horrific. If in doubt the dentist would just pull out your teeth, with very little pain relief. Now my dentist even numbs the pain of the needle which will numb even more pain.

My sister-in-law Siobhan is a dentist. She is nothing like the demon barber. Recently she told me that the first thing most of her patients say to her is: “I hate dentists!”

Poor dentists. They do get rough treatment from us. Imagine if you went to the hairdresser and said. “I hate all hairdressers . They might be forgiven for dying your hair blue or something nasty. But dentists just have to grin and bear it.

Recently I plucked up the courage to ask her three questions I have always wanted to ask a dentist.

  1. For how long should we clean our teeth?

Twice a day for two minutes.

(Two minutes is quite a thorough job I find. I remember as a kid being quite satisfied with a achieving a minty freshness. Lucky for the old walk around the house, have a chat to anyone watching TV, otherwise that two minutes could get quite boring…)

  1.  On a scale from 1 to 10 how bad is the average Australians breath?

I don’t really notice because I have my mask on. I only notice when I have a patient who hasn’t brushed their teeth for 6 months.


  1. Is there a certain enjoyment in pulling out teeth? What would you compare it to?

It’s completely neutral and you can’t compare it to anything. It’s all just part of the job.

I was impressed with her truly professional answer. Personally, I think it would be quite satisfying to pull out a rotting tooth. There would be the juicy twist and delightful pop as it’s wrenched out.

Perhaps it’s lucky I never felt the calling to become dentist.