My trip to the dentist contained both the expected and the unexpected.
I had never before been to the famous Harley Street (the legendary street in which the top practitioners of private medicine are thought to have their consulting rooms) and was perhaps a little disappointed by it. At first sight, the street is rather nondescript for London.
It did contain some interesting buildings, however, and one or two that were architecturally quite impressive. A lot of these are occupied by businesses of various sorts, while others seen to be posh dwellings.
Around the corner, Park Crescent, with its own private park, is much more impressive but that, after all, was not where I had my appointment.
On reaching the address, I entered what must once have been a fairly luxurious town house. Having announced my identity, I was given a form to fill in and sent to the waiting room. This was on the ground floor at the front of the house. It might have been the drawing room or the dining room in the days when the house was a private dwelling. It was simply and elegantly furnished.
I started to fill in the form which requested the usual health information and then asked about one’s level of anxiety regarding dental treatment. Was one “Slightly anxious”, “Moderately anxious” or “Extremely anxious”? I chose “Moderately”, but I lied.
Just as I was feeling comfortable, I was summoned, even though there were 15 minutes to go before my appointment. My destiny lay on the second floor, up a staircase I thought surprisingly steep for such an elegant building. Perhaps it is not the original, a result of changes to the interior.
The dentist’s consulting room was quite large and the famous chair seemed a long way away. After the initial courtesies I made my way thither a settled into it. My teeth were prodded and X-rayed. Then came the bombshell. The dentist agreed that my previously treated tooth was playing up and would probably need treated again sooner or later but said that the current problem (pain resulting from pressure and cold) was caused by the tooth behind it. In other words, I have two dodgy teeth, not one.
He touched the second tooth with something very cold and before I could stop myself I emitted an expletive. Yep, that’s the one that’s causing the trouble!
I am now booked in for a long session in 10 days’ time when all this will be investigated and a plan of action drawn up, which could involve anything from root canal work to extraction. We may not yet be sure what is involved but we are sure of something else: it will be expensive.
I suppose I could wimp out at this point and return to the NHS to have the offending teeth removed but, to be honest, having experienced NHS dentistry and having been impressed, but negatively, I think I will grit my teeth (assuming I still have teeth to grit) and pay up. You have only one set of teeth, after all, and they do not grow again once removed.
The good news was that apart from present troubles, the dentist was impressed with the condition of my teeth. (That’s down to clean living and a vegetarian diet, no doubt!)
So then it was out into the real world again, a world of traffic, rain and mist, a typical winter day in London. I soon left Harley Street behind but my teeth keep reminding me that it is there, waiting.