Goodbye to Harley Street

Harley Street, Regent's Park end
Harley Street, Regent’s Park end

Yes, my adventures in Harley Street have come to an end, and sooner than I expected, though, since I still have all my original teeth, no one can tell what the future may hold.

If you are squeamish or suffer from dentophobia, you may not wish to read the next eleven paragraphs. My story continues on from my post entitled More complicated than we thought, in which I outlined my ongoing dental problem. A session lasting an hour and a half had been arranged for today and – guess what? – I was not looking forward to it.

While waiting for the day, I had congratulated myself on how calmly I was taking it. Even when arriving this morning at the surgery I managed a cheerful and outgoing mien until the moment when I lay in the dentist’s chair. I then found my heart was pounding so hard that I felt quite out of sorts. It was as if I were lying on a trampoline on which someone was bouncing up and down, so powerful were the beats.

The dentist said “We won’t be doing much today, just having a look at what needs to be done.” That helped calm me down, I suppose, even though it turned out to be a false prognostic.

“Would you like to watch a film,” enquired to dentist. Eh, what, a film!? Er, no, thanks. (How I would watch a film, lying on my back with my mouth packed like a golf bag and two people apparently engaged in drilling for oil in my molars, I don’t know. Maybe I should have asked.)

“Then you will need the dark glasses,” said the dentist. Er, the dark glasses? Why would I need the, er…? “Because of the bright lights.” I accepted the dark glasses. Notwithstanding these, I firmly closed my eyes. I did not wish to see whatever tools and instruments might cross through my field of vision as this would only increase my stress levels which I had brought under only fragile control.

It was an unpleasant shock, then, when something jabbed the side of my mouth: a painkilling injection. Meanwhile, the dentist had a microscope suspended above me that gave a magnified view on my teeth both visually and on a screen. During the session they several timers took photos.

Apparently, the filling on the tooth worked on 15 years ago had sprung a leak. “We can work on that as there is no nerve in it while waiting for the anaesthetic to take effect on the other said the dentist. I was not at all sure I should believe this but he drilled happily away and I felt no pain, though my nerves, had they been guitar strings, would have played a merry tune.

That tooth sorted out, it was time to start on the other which was apparently cracked, leading to pain and temperature sensitivity. Drilling began. After a while, it began to hurt. A second jab in the side of my mouth. Numbness crept across my bottom lip. “No lunch for you today, my lad,” I told myself.

A lot of drilling now ensued. I don’t know whether they found anything interesting down there but the dentist did remark that these were the longest roots he had ever dealt with. I felt like suggesting he contact the Guinness book of records but in my situation, just breathing was a sufficient chore so I let it go.

The work took the whole 90 minutes. Not the longest 90 minutes of my life perhaps, but not far behind. “There, that’s all done,” said the dentist, to my surprise. I was expecting at least another session to deal with the other tooth. The news was not all good, however. In fact, it could be considered bad.

“You must have bitten on something hard,” explained the dentist, “and this has cracked two of your teeth. In one the crack only goes part way – that’s the one we have treated, killing the nerve, so you will feel no more pain from it – but in the other, the crack goes all the way down. The tooth will have to be extracted. The roots are very long, however, and I would prefer to hand the job to an oral surgeon. I will write to your dentist and he will discuss your options with you.”

I walked out into the sunlight with a lighter heart and a lighter wallet. The left side of my mouth was numb and perhaps so was part of my brain because I felt only relief that the current work was finished. One tooth at least was sorted out and I should no longer wince at cold drinks and eat only on the right side. I’ll start worrying about the extraction later; for now, I am in celebratory mood.

Horse and Rider by Elizabeth Frink
Horse and Rider by Elizabeth Frink

If you are an art lover or know London, the above picture may tell you where I went next. This sculpture, Horse and Rider by Elizabeth Frink, stands, surrounded by chairs and tables in front of Caffè Nero, at the end of Dover Street, which runs off Piccadilly, near Green Park tube station.

I had come to visit a particular establishment in Dover Street.

The Clarence, Dover Street
The Clarence, Dover Street

No, not the pub, handsome exemplar of its kind that The Clarence might be, but another, pertaining more to apparel and vanity than to refreshment.


I came here, to the London branch of Orvis, a shop that I ought not to patronize as it sells clothing, accoutrements and equipment for fishermen or, as I prefer to call them, fish torturers, people who inflict damage on living creatures for “sport”.

However, my beloved black fedora is showing signs of age and wear and I must needs look around for a replacement. I am glad to see that men’s felt hats are slowly coming back into fashion but they remain, nevertheless, hard to find. Orvis sell a good “packable” wool felt hat but not so far, a black one. I was investigating their new “charcoal” model to see if it would do. In shape and quality it was fine but the colour was a rather drab grey, so the search goes on.

I went home, skipped lunch because I didn’t want to find myself chewing my numb face, and went down to meet Tigger from work as usual. The numbness has gone and now I must teach myself to eat on both sides of my mouth again, like normal folk. My extraction lies in the not too distant future but “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof”, and I will try not to think about it until I have to.


About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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8 Responses to Goodbye to Harley Street

  1. Ancient Brit says:

    I can certainly empathise with your situation.

    Years ago I lost some 12 teeth to a raging root infection; it was a long time before I discovered that *all* of my teeth could probably have been saved by the simple expedient of drilling a small hole into one tooth and inserting a piece of cotton thread soaked in antibiotic (which is what my private dentist did eventually, as he saved a tooth).

    The worst point was when one dentist clamped down on a tooth he insisted had to come out, and it exploded, taking a tooth out either side along with an appreciable amount of jawbone. Not a fun visit, that one. Or the six subsequent weeks I spent drinking my food until the gum and the jaw had healed sufficiently for work to continue.

    I think you should create a new tag for this post and label it Horror! 🙂

    Or possibly :)=



  2. Ed says:

    I have heard that some French go to Hungary to see a dentist ! Not because ours are torturers, but because they are often unaffordable.

    • SilverTiger says:

      A lot of people in the UK also choose this option. The way NHS dentists are paid at present, many find it more lucrative to extract teeth than to try to treat and save them. The cost of going private is, however, too high for most people. (It’s too high for me but I did it anyway.)

      The British government needs to devise a proper remuneration plan so that dentists don’t have to make a choice between operating in the patient’s best interest and operating in the best interest of their bank balance.

  3. Ancient Brit says:

    The private option has become a good deal more expensive over the years, sadly.

    I once received treatment from a private dentist at 11:35pm on a Friday night, when the only other NHS dentist I could find willing to see me at short notice quoted me the following Tuesday (and I was in serious agony with a severe root infection). This was in the early 90s.

    The private dentist charged me UKP35 for an extraction and a course of antibiotics (he said that he was unable to save the tooth at all since the jawbone itself had been damaged by the infection, but he went on to become my dentist and did some stellar work over the following few years, until he broke his wrist in a riding fall.

    The fracture refused to mend completely and he had to go into early retirement – a great loss IMHO, the more so since his practice was in his house, literally right across the street from where I lived at the time. Glyn Williams, you are still sorely missed.

    • SilverTiger says:

      I came to private dentistry in a similar way and decided to continue routinely thereafter. Some people manage to find good NHS dentists. It all depends on the luck of the draw, I suppose.

  4. Paulette Przybyl says:

    Ace site. You have brought in a new fan. Please keep up the nice posts and I look forward to more of your intriguing posts.

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