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Thursday, 15 September 2011

Happy teeth

Without Halile's help, this is how my
bedside table will look....
I have some stupid phobias (mainly regarding balloons) and a couple that strike me as eminently sensible - needles and dentists. I get the full works with these; uncontrollable shaking, weeping, flailing and woohooing. Frankly, doctors and dentists can't stand the sight of me and I don't blame them. Unfortunately this year I discovered that trips to the dentist are not optional but essential. I chipped one front tooth and a malevolent brown mark appeared on the gumline of another. My tongue also kept finding a jagged hole in a back molar that I couldn't ignore. I tried not smiling for a year (really!) but finally I had to admit defeat.

My dentist is a lovely woman, but rather stern and much given to sermonising. Every time I see her she lectures me on how my dissipated lifestyle is affecting my teeth. She is also patently unable to get near me to do fillings. She has neither the patience nor the necessary sedatives for the job. Every so often she would wearily point out that i needed work done and we'd do the traditional dance; chase me round the surgery with a needle, send me out sobbing to the waiting room to frighten the other patients, bring me in again, chase me round the surgery with a drill and so on, until she admitted defeat and sent me home in disgust. In all those years drill has never made contact with enamel.

But this time I realised I had no choice. The not smiling thing was really not my style. Then as I was trying to decide where to go on my hols I read a recommendation on a Tripadvisor forum. Halile the magical dentist was patient, kind and could work on the most nervous patients. People travelled from Istanbul to get work done in her space age offices in Manavgat, a dolmus ride away from Side.

Here was my chance, I thought. Foreign dentists would be much more on for a spot of sedation, which I was sure I needed. Well, no, it turns out. But Halile really is the best damn dentist in the world.

She was happy to tell me I was the worst patient she's ever had. Absolutely nothing to be proud of, but always good to know you're not a middling kind of phobic. Actually the whole experience was a bit Graham Greene. First she sat me in the dentists chair and of course I did my usual and immediately burst into tears and shook like an epileptic.

She moved me over to her desk a couple of feet away from the chair of doom and said "do you smoke?". I assumed she meant was that the reason my teeth were such a mess so I said yes, I used to. To which she lit a fag and offered me one! So I explained I'd rather not start again and she laughed and said "how about a whisky?". I told her it had taken me two glasses of wine to get to the front door so she sent the technician out for a glass of wine for me! I declined that, as the thought of being actually half cut during reasonably major dental work rather than just having a bit of Dutch courage didn't really appeal. Then she said "just imagine it's the hairdressers", told me she'd work really slowly and carefully and told me to put my hand on her waist and hold the nurse's hand while she did the injections!

And I shit you not, I didn't feel a thing! Didn't stop me shaking and crying and wahaying like a loon for the first hour or so, but towards the end she could have suggested another four fillings and I'd have gone for it. OK that's pushing it but you get the idea. The woman is a genius. She even sorted the chip on my front tooth. She had to stop three times for a fag, god love her. My kind of dentist. So I'm sure you think I'm absolutely mental (and of course I am) but it worked for me and worth every penny.

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