Nobody likes going to the dentist’s; it’s just one of those things in life that we have to grit our teeth and get on with [pun intended]. As with many day to day things which are taken for granted by most people, it’s also something which a lot of RD patients tend to worry about. “Will the vibrations of the dental instruments affect my retina?”; “Will it be okay to lie back in the dentist’s chair?”; “What if I need treatment – will it be safe to have a filling?” . I consider myself fairly fortunate on the dental front, unless you count the six extractions to make space in an overcrowded mouth (a clear design fault there!) and the dreaded ‘train tracks’ of my teenage years, which pushed me to the very fringes of ‘the out crowd’ at school. As I’ve got older, a recurrent fear of my annual trips to the dentist has been, “Oh no – this time I might actually need a FILLING!” However, one positive of RD and multiple eye surgeries is that in comparison with that horror, a visit to the dentist’s is a piece of cake. (Cake with reduced sugar content, obviously.) Also, as I pointed out to a friend, if I ever do need false teeth, at least they’re capable of doing the job required. Unlike a prosthetic eye, which would function merely to preserve outward appearance.
After my first two RD surgeries, the time between my dental check-ups had stretched to well over a year, but I eventually plucked up the courage to make an appointment. Upon being asked the customary question: “Has anything changed in your medical history since your last appointment?”, I explained that I’d had some eye surgery for retinal detachments. “Oh well, I’ll try not to poke you in the eye then”, he said breezily, completely oblivious to my icy glare as he rattled his
instruments of torture dental equipment on the little tray by his side.
I haven’t mentioned the eye surgery since that first time, although after surgery number five I did check with the ophthalmologist that it would be okay to go to the dentists, and he said it would be fine. I still get nervous about going though, and often put off making the appointment. This year’s reluctant visit took place a few weeks ago. After scrupulously brushing my teeth in the loos after work (I assumed that the sign declaring, “This sink is for hand washing only; please do not put paint down the sink” for the benefit of the Architecture students didn’t apply to toothpaste), I headed off to the dreaded dentist’s.
As I’m not supposed to lie on my back because of the silicone oil in my eye, I always wait until the last possible moment before lying back in the chair. If he doesn’t start the examination immediately, I raise my head again until he’s ready. I shut my eyes against the glare of the huge overhead lamp as he counts and prods and pokes at my teeth. Obviously, I understand the need for the bright overhead lamp, but something which never fails to astound me is the large flat screen television mounted on the ceiling. So when I cautiously half-open my ‘good’ eye to peer out at various points and see what he’s doing, I have to avoid the glare of both the overhead lamp and the huge bright television screen. “Do any of his patients actually watch the television whilst undergoing dental treatment?”, I wonder each time I visit. Is it there as a method of distraction? Or because he stacks up so much spare cash from his extortionate charges that it seemed a good thing to splash out on? I really have no idea, but if anyone does actually watch a spot of telly whilst undergoing their scale and polish, do let me know as I’m rather intrigued!
Fortunately, one good thing about my dentist is that he’s incredibly quick. So without too much ado, I was able to sit upright again and allow the slight queasy dizziness to subside along with the floaters in my eye which had been stirred up by the oil sloshing around as a result of lying back. All was fine, although as the receptionist informed me of the amount owing for the ten-minute appointment, I opened wide without being asked to, and had to swiftly catch my chin before it hit the desk.
Note: For a far more interesting story about eyes and teeth, check out the following: http://www.itv.com/news/utv/2017-06-22/glimpse-of-hope-after-rare-tooth-in-eye-surgery/