Friday 30 May 2014

Laughing Gas

News today that half of us in Wales haven't seen a dentist for two years - see the story here.

I'm reasonably good about going to my dentist and anyway he constantly threatens all his patients with expulsion from his NHS list if they don't tip up - and you won't get back in easily except as a private patient so my Cardi instincts keep me regular, as it were.

As a result my teeth are reasonably healthy although eccentrically wonky as illustrated in the unflattering cartoon of me which is permanently displayed on this Blog (look right).

I'm fortunate in not having a phobia about dentists in spite of some hair-raising fillings and extractions as a child. It wasn't unusual then to expect you to put up with considerable pain, especially from drilling.

And "laughing gas" was no laughing matter (I can remember disturbing dreams while under what is known to doctors as nitrous oxide) but I gather from the net that gas is used much more intelligently these days though I can't find anybody who has had it recently.

My Dad had a joke about a man who went to his dentist for an extraction. Because he was scared the dentist quietly told his assistant to jab a needle into the patient's bottom at the exact moment when the dentist tugged out the tooth. Job done the dentist asked his patient how he was and he replied "It was fine, thank you, but I had no idea how far the roots went down!". Well, we thought it was funny.

But it is much better now and, though some dental work can be uncomfortable - my wisdom tooth was particularly stubborn I recollect - you needn't normally experience pain because the local anaesthetics are very good.

It's an important part of our Let's Get Physical! campaign to encourage people with a mental illness and their families to look after their teeth, meaning getting to the dentist regularly as well as all that brushing and flossing.

If you don't have a dentist then follow this link or this one. I've tested these and they seemed to find my local dentists but - take care - if you filter out the ones "not accepting NHS patients" then many disappear even though they do have NHS patients (all my local ones disappeared but I know they take NHS patients).

Presumably this is because they are "full up" but don't let that put you off. Ring up or go round and see what you can negotiate. The waiting time to get on their list may not be so long or you may be able to get aboard as a local person, because your family has used the practice, or because you make a good case by other means.

Polite assertiveness can go a long way in securing many NHS services - perhaps it shouldn't but it does.

You could go direct to your Local Health Board too for help.

Local Hafal staff (or our partners in the campaign - Bipolar UK and the Mental Health Foundation) or your Care Coordinator can give you a hand if you aren't sure how to proceed. And if you are scared of going to the dentist then talk to us or to your Care Coordinator - it's important to get help to deal with that.