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Dorset Dentists On the Job

News that Dorset dentists are set to re-open their surgeries met with a mixed reception yesterday as scores of patients realised that long-interrupted and long delayed treatment was to resume early next week. Typical was Mr Ivor Gummsonely who has been waiting three months to have the last remaining tooth in his head removed. "I've become very fond of that tooth", he said with obvious sincerity - "its all that's divided chiselling a groove in a decent sausage from a lifetime of cuppasoup and sodden soldiers. And where else am I going to hang my bicycle-keys without losing them?"

Like many others, Mr Gummsonley dreads the resumption of dental "business as usual". Not that it will be recognisably "as usual" for some time if ever, say critics of the reopening. According to protocols issued by the Dorset Dental Transitional Safety Authority [DDTs], dentist will only be able to see three patients a day at 3 hourly intervals and must deep clean surgeries in between. They are also required to fit hugely expensive PPE as well as heavy-duty extraction equipment designed to remove all the aerosols which result from water-driven drilling procedures. [The Threadbone Corporation's ErgoBioNaturalExchangeFineParticleHippoEcoSucker Mark III is the recommended model]. Since each extractor costs £250,000 and each surgery requires at least three to function safely, re-opening is not a cheap option given that projected takings amount to little more than £172.40 per surgery per day.

Not that the plight of the dentist him or herself will be upper most in the minds of patients. A recent survey suggested that whilst 4 in 10 patients were "afraid of the dentist" before lockdown, a massive rise to 8 in 10 has been witnessed since. Chief amongst the explanations for this unprecedented rise in anxiety include [a] the wearing of masks by staff who might be laughing, leering or formulating depraved plans behind them [b] the fact that the one patient at a time protocol means each patient will be "locked in with their nightmare", [c] allergies to or uncontrolled fetishes about latex gloves and [c] the absence of any Magazines in the non-waiting room. ["I only went to the dentist to catch up with Private Eye, Woman's Realm and Dorset Bee-keeping Monthly", one patient said, "otherwise what's the point of them?"]

So to reassure patients, the Dorset Dentists' Association has commissioned a special poster to lighten the mood. It will be displayed in all surgeries and feature in a county-wide campaign to allay public fears. Mood measuring social observer H Andy Di Vershon believes the project is doomed to failure - "its risky attempt to marry humour with a nostalgic 60s twist and to play on the public's well-established appetite for illicit novocaine induced hanky-panky with their dental practitioner may well backfire. Not every dentist is up to scratch in this regard - some have "shorter needles" or "slower drills" if you get my drift, whilst others simply won't have the hoped-for enthusiasm at only £40 a pop". "It's not often people leave the dentists disappointed but this could well be a case in point". "So for many there will be no "Happy Ending" I'm afraid."

Authorities are hoping that a lively campaign based on humour and acknowledged public perceptions will carry the day and tempt reluctant patients into re-opened surgeries across the county.

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