Last week, a good friend of mine, educated, intelligent, young, ended up with a broken tooth - and I mean in half - and was left with a stumpy gap most dentist journals would kill to photograph as a disaster zone. All she was doing was biting open a packet for her toddler when the tooth just, snapped. With a rather loud crack.
And the reason for this tooth-trauma? My dental-phobic friend, although fairly obsessed with cleaning her teeth, went through a phase in her twenties of never visiting a dentist. Granted, a bad experience didn't help, but those years of avoiding the issue clearly took their toll on this one tooth and weakened it.
Luckily she managed to get an emergency appointment and now has to shell out for a crown - the shame of it is it could've been avoided.
What worries me about all this is that part of her avoidance of dentists is based on cost. It is extremely difficult to get into an NHS dentist, and in fact my friend tells me that her current one will soon be going entirely private. So what happens to her when she becomes pregnant - she'll have to change dentists yet again to get her free entitlements.
I once read an article about an elderly lady that could not get into an NHS dentist, and resorted to removing two of her own teeth.
She removed her own teeth?? In a modern society?
I'm not advocating freebies-for-freeloaders, but do feel that as we do have a health service, dental care should be included in that, and although more dentists are apparently returning to the NHS, it is still hard to register with one.
I urge everyone to visit a dentist regularly, whether NHS or private - it's worth the investment.
We have an excellent dentist on The Best Of Croydon, the Confidental Dental Clinic on Brighton Road. I'm pleased to say they accept NHS and private patients, and as a family business they are friendly and make sure their patients are as relaxed as possible.
Check Confidental out - don't put it off.
For information on NHS dentists near you, ask NHS Direct on 0845 4647.
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Katrina Monroe is a freelance writer and photographer with The Little White Studio.
Image courtesy of bbc.co.uk