As Pam Ayres famously said in her poem “Oh I wish I’d looked after me teeth”. You know there comes a time when you have to at least acknowledge that your various bits and pieces might not be in the first flush of youth. I have had endless problems with my teeth and my jaw. It probably started when I had impacted wisdom teeth removed under anaesthetic when I was 15.
In my view, it was a completely unnecessary procedure and my poor parents were badly advised. Since then, my jaw clicks and I have a bite so sensitive to changes in my mouth that the slightest high filling makes me feel like I’m chewing a brick.
So now I also seem to be clenching my teeth and the pressure is such that parts of my back molars have actually split off. I am hooked on sensitive toothpaste (thank you Sensodyne) and try to avoid foods that might crack my teeth. It’s taken me years (I’m not joking) to eat crisps after a bit of my tooth fell off whilst eating a ridged crisp. And as for chocolate covered Brazils! Forget it. Objects of terror.
At night I have a mouth guard, lovingly crafted by the Jaw Clinic at the University of Wales Hospital in Cardiff. Slight overtones of pugilism and a slightly drooly start to the day.
I’m not sure I can even be accused of poor dental hygiene, being a regular cleaner and flosser. As I sit occasionally transfixed by life’s flotsam and jetsam on Jeremy Kyle (don’t judge me..) which now seems to have become the benchmark of the Nation’s poor dental health, the questions I have to ask myself are i) do people not realise how much poor teeth affect the way they look and ii) what on earth has happened to dentistry in the UK? It is clear that the reduction in the provision of adequate NHS dentists is having a serious knock-on effect on people’s teeth and, at the same time, their overall health.
It may be vaguely amusing to titter at the latest gap-toothed, black stumped participant but how on earth did we get to this? I pay for a dental insurance scheme and, by the time I’m 70 will probably have coughed up enough for a Mediterranean cruise.
The chance of finding an NHS dentist for many are, I suspect, slim and the ability to pay for a dental insurance scheme, a luxury compared to, say, coping with ever-increasing utility bills.
My two children are taught dental hygiene and, due to my sensitive gnashers, they were exposed to toothpaste and one of those strange finger puppet tooth cleaning thingummybobs as soon as the merest speck of a tooth appeared.
My father has dentures. He had poor teeth and when he joined the Royal Navy a condition of his appointment was that all his teeth were removed. He’s never looked back although he frequently mutters about pips under his plate and it does take a while to get used to a new set.
As kids, we had endless fun when mum’s back was turned and dad would shoot his bottom set out of his mouth in a very impressive gurn. He’s never used them to crimp the edges of the pastry of an apple pie but it’s the sort of thing he’d consider for a laugh.
Perhaps Corsodyl has got it right. I’m sure you know the advert where the beautiful woman’s teeth bleed as she brushes them and at the end of the advert she reveals she is missing a canine tooth. It’s not the snappiest catchphrase – “Corsodyl, for people who spit blood when they brush” but, by heck it’s honest.
Perhaps the dental industry should concentrate less on the promotion of bright, white smiles and more on the true consequences of poor dental health. Mind you, that would probably put you off your popcorn. (No I can’t eat that either).
So that’s the story of the problems with my teeth. Tell me, do you have similar dental trials and tribulations? I’d love to hear.