moved to Portugal I didn't immediately sign up to a
dentist clinic. There was no reason. My teeth were perfectly
healthy. The two fillings I have were in place and not
causing any problems, life was good in the mouth
six years ago, after only a few months of
Portugal I did visit a
dentist in Portugal. I booked the
appointment, was glad the dentist could fit us in on New
Years Eve and duly turned up, but only in the capacity of
a worried friend, there to offer moral support from
the safety of the waiting room.
My Swedish friend,
equally as nervous of dentist surgeries, had other ideas and refused to release
my hand, so the dentist carried on regardless, draping a
surgical gown over me and attaching a face mask to my
ears. For an hour the dentist, who was in a hurry to
catch a flight to America for an important two week
conference drilled, suctioned, drilled some more,
packed, extracted and administered antibiotics over an
hour long period.
Swedish friend's teeth, due to his perchance for chewing
tobacco combined with diabetes were in quite a state, so
the dentist carried out work he would have normally
spread over several weeks. Even as a spectator the work
was stomach-churningly gruesome and something I didn't
want to endure, ever, whether in
point normal people
would have signed up immediately with a dentist to
ensure their teeth were kept in tip top condition,
avoiding such treatment. I didn't. The experience for me
was enough to keep my out of a dentist surgery forever.
lackadaisical attitude served me well, for a while.
Despite having a penchant for chewy mint humbugs and two
fillings, everything was okay for six years.
The fillings stayed in place I continued to eat sweets
and I had no pain, therefore
no problem, no dentist needed.
work in Portugal, I crack a tooth simply
clenching my teeth together. At first I thought I hadn't chewed
my breakfast as there was a foreign body floating around
in my mouth. But I don't (very unhealthily) eat breakfast
and realised I had just chewed off a crown at the rear
of my mouth.
friends immediately confirmed this when they looked into
the gaping hole which used to be a tooth. I had the
evidence in my hand and declared immediately and rather
more bravely than I felt, 'I must
get an appointment with a dentist'.
intentions were good, but then a customer came in to the
shop, emails needed to be responded to and, well it was
lunch time and no one answered the phone at the various
dentistas I tried ringing as it was, well
lunchtime in Portugal.
day I was still full of enthusiasm to get the problem
sorted as there was a rather large hole in the top of my
molar and I was keen to ensure it didn't become
painfully enflamed, infected and cause an abscess, so I
tried again, but to no avail.
just want any
dentist in Portugal I wanted a dentist who spoke
fluent English. I do speak Portuguese, though
falteringly and didn't want any room for mistranslation
of my phobia to pain. So when I was unable to get an
appointment the urgency lapsed.
I had no pain, I
continued to brush,
floss and swill out with antiseptic mouthwash twice
daily. No problem. I will get round to it eventually. I knew it was something which
needed sorting out, but it was always something put on
the 'tomorrow's to do list'.
Apart from visiting the dentist in the
Algarve I didn't know any in central Portugal. I wanted
a recommendation from someone who had been to a dentist,
had a good experience in the area I lived.
not a big thing. We have after all lived here for many
years, know many people and have contact with more. In
my experience of running two businesses where we do make
recommendations on a daily basis of trades people we
have used, insurance services we have no qualms with
estate agents to deal with, it was a sudden shift of
I have never had to ask for a recommendation
of a doctor, lawyer or other professionally trained
person as I have usually uncovered them, used them and
then only on this
basis have recommended them.
it's the strange thing with dentists and
recommendations, no one gives them. My friends,
associates and colleagues all knew I had to go, but no
one was willing to provide the number or name of a
capable dentist, perhaps afraid of the histrionics I am
capable of when cornered in a dentist surgery.
seven months passed before I was forced into action into
going to see a
dentist in Portugal. The cracked tooth,
despite an oral hygienic regime any dentist would be
proud of, began to be painful. Open to bacteria, the
tooth had deteriorated and the nerve was now exposed. The pain,
even with copious amounts of anti-inflammatory tablets,
did not abate. So unable to take more than seven hours
of pain, I submitted, asked a friend to contact her
dentist, whom only spoke Portuguese, and nervously arrived at his door, just after
I had no
real appointment at the clinic in
Tomar, but was ushered
into the space age treatment room immediately on arrival. The
source of the pain was obvious to Dr Roberto, who was
keen to save what was left of the tooth. However being
more nervous of the drill than extraction, I plumbed for
the tooth to be taken out immediately.
Clenching eyes tight shut and mouth as wide open as I
could get it, I waited for the sting of the needle, but
was surprised to find there was no sting. Dentistry has
obviously come on in leaps and bounds since my last
Anaesthetic gel was applied before he liberally injected
the gums surrounding the tooth. All the while eye shuts,
though could equally have watched the lunchtime news on
television which was mounted on the ceiling above me.
a few minutes for the anaesthetic to take effect,
ensured we had hand signals understood for any signs of
pain, then checked the tooth. It was bliss, he was
scratching around with a pointy implement in the core of
the tooth and there was no pain. So the sterilised
pliers were unwrapped.
tooth though refused to move and at one point I though
my jaw would break under the pressure. Dr Roberto though
was not defeated, left the treatment room and returned
with another, much larger set or sterilised pliers he
hoped would do the trick. It did and when I heard the
crack of the root I tried to smile, but only managed to
spill saliva down my cheek which Dr Roberto wiped away
with a cloth. The cavity was packed and I provided with
a prescription for antibiotics and anti-inflammatory
offending tooth safely stashed in an empty drug
container, I proceeded to the cash desk to settle up,
ready for I imagined a rather steep bill. I was wrong,
the cost for my visit, a mere 35€. The lesson I learned,
don't procrastinate about your oral health. I can though
now highly recommend the services of a dentist in Tomar,
who although doesn't speak English, understood my
faltering Portuguese and imaginative sign language.