OUR UNSUNG HEROES

My oral hygienist’s chair

We all clapped and cheered for our NHS and other heroes who risked their lives to save ours – and quite right. But what about our Unsung Heroes, who now are coming into the line of fire – workers whose professions bring them into potentially dangerous close contact with us, like our dentists and oral hygienists.

My oral hygienist, who has been helping me keep my remaining teeth for the last 14 years, assures me that the fact that I collect lots of calculus around my teeth, so that they need scaling every 3 or 4 months, is not to do with Central London’s hard water, but the constituents of my saliva. Whatever the cause of my heavy accumulation, a visit to the Oral Hygienist was long overdue.

She has worn a mask and gloves since I first went to her, but she does not, of course, wear full PPE and so is at some risk from patients stupid and uncaring enough not to self-isolate when knowingly exposed to Coronavirus infection. I was interested to see that, when I rinsed my mouth, my washings were disposed of safely, not tipped into the bowl attached to the dental chair as in the past.

Especially now that the number of cases of Coronavirus in the UK is worryingly high, we should appreciate these less popular members of the caring professions even more.

I qualified in medicine after training as a dentist and was always amused by the fact that at the end of a course of treatment, when I had taken great care to cause my patient as little pain and discomfort as possible, my dental patient would shake my hand and say

‘I’m glad I won’t be seeing you again.’

In contrast, as a doctor, I might have had difficulty getting a needle into a vein, making several painful attempts, but my patient would still thank me profusely and say they looked forward to their next visit and discussing their diagnosis and treatment.

I was the same person but the patient’s view of my two professions was so different!!

Read more of Abby’s previous posts in her book Abby’s Tales of then and Now. It is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the 7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site to get a taster for free.

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