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What was dental care like in your childhood ?

(201 Posts)
Jaffacake2 Sat 23-Jan-21 12:33:28

It was interesting to read the thread on hygiene during our chidhoods and when we all managed to get a hot bath or not. I thought it would be enlightening to ask about the dental care,or lack of it,through our youth.
I can't remember having a toothbrush as a child but I do remember the trips to the dentist. In the 1960s I think dentists were paid to drill and fill teeth. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.
All my teeth seemed to be filled by the time of being a teenager. It was very painful with no pain relief and frightening. She seemed a sadistic dentist who managed to put the drill through one of my brother's tongue. The waiting room was full of old pictures of religious scenes although for me it was a gateway to hell.
Subsequently I now have had teeth where the enamel is breaking off from large fillings. I am also scared of dentists.
How did everyone else fare during their childhood ?

Viridian Sat 23-Jan-21 12:35:15

I still have a scar running down the inside of my mouth, where my ancient dentist with shaky hands lost control of the drill. I was aged 10.

Puzzler61 Sat 23-Jan-21 12:39:08

I lived in a village and the school dentist came once a year.
I dreaded seeing the caravan pull into the school drive as I knew what would follow. We were called a class at a time and I quaked in my shoes while waiting for my turn.
The dentist, a man, also seemed to enjoy pinning us in the chair and inflicting pain. I always had fillings or teeth out.
Now I too have lots of big silver fillings but I’m not afraid of the dentist. I found a nice one.

SisterAct Sat 23-Jan-21 12:39:49

Oh this thread brings back awful memories. I totally agree in 60s think they were paid to fill and drill. My DH 10 yrs older than me at same dentist in 50,s said the same.
Locally if you mention dentists name to certain age group they refer to him as ‘butcher’ .

Puzzler61 Sat 23-Jan-21 12:39:52

Oh Viridian how dreadful!

PamelaJ1 Sat 23-Jan-21 12:40:16

It is true Jaffacake my current dentist says we were very badly treated and most of us have the problems you mention because of this.

threexnanny Sat 23-Jan-21 12:40:22

Brutal!! I can remember being out with my grandmother and bumping into our dentist's assistant. She had a ragging tooth ache and didn't want to be seen by the dentist!

Viridian Sat 23-Jan-21 12:41:34

Thank you Puzzler, nobody's ever sympathised about it before. smile

Viridian Sat 23-Jan-21 12:42:35

This could end up being the scariest GN thread ever! 😂😂

jaylucy Sat 23-Jan-21 12:43:02

We had annual visits from the school dentist at school, but after having to have 3 teeth taken out before I started school, we always were taken to the dentist every 6 months by mum.
Our dentist actually lived, until recently, in my village and I was in fact friendly with his daughters.
His practice was in the nearest town and can still remember the way the needle for the anaesthetic seemed to go right up the side of my nose if I needed fillings in any of my top teeth!

Urmstongran Sat 23-Jan-21 12:46:33

Was it a thing to go on our own too at a fairly early age? I remember being 11y and going, taking my NINE YEAR OLD SISTER along with me! Wouldn’t be allowed nowadays I’m sure.

On the walk there I used to try and reassure my little sister. A few years ago we were talking about this subject. She said ‘I can remember you said relax and just look out of the window at the tree branches and see if a bird comes to sit on one. It really helped me.’

God, shows how traumatic it must have been, in that we still recall the fear even now.

MissAdventure Sat 23-Jan-21 12:47:14

We went regularly to the dentist, but my teeth are still in a horrible state.
I think I take after my dad's side of the family in that respect.

Redhead56 Sat 23-Jan-21 12:51:35

We rarely had toothbrushs not always had toothpaste either but we did go to the dentist. The worse part about it we went on our own our dad worked mum had partime jobs. We went to the local dentist and was always gassed to have extractions or metal fillings. It's disgusting sending a child to the dentist anything could have happened while we were knocked out. I just do not know what my mum was thinking about.

Witzend Sat 23-Jan-21 12:53:56

It was OK, we were sent to the dentist at more or less regular intervals.

One thing that does stand out for me, was having 2 x upper canine teeth appear over the baby teeth - a bit like Dracula fangs! So 2 upper molars were taken out for overcrowding, and I was given a horrible plate to wear, to straighten my teeth.
I hated it so much, I only wore it for about 2 days and my teeth straightened themselves perfectly well anyway.

In later life it turned out that my lower teeth were also overcrowded, so I had to have two impacted wisdom teeth extracted in my mid 20s. Earlier extraction of a couple of lower teeth would have avoided that - I had to have a week off work each time, since I was in a public facing role and my face was black and blue.
I dare say that a few decades later, that would have been picked up and acted on much sooner.

Mollygo Sat 23-Jan-21 12:55:35

Another drill and fill experience here, with the added nightmare of his appalling breath.
Hearing the surname Kinsey whisks me straight back into the nightmare.
We brushed our teeth regularly with toothpaste in a tin! Brushing was even more enthusiastic after the first visit to the dentist.

Rainwashed Sat 23-Jan-21 12:56:04

Yes I had lots of fillings, and baby teeth out, don’t know how necessary it was. Other children I knew went to the local authority clinic dentist, don’t know if that was any better!I also went on my own from about the age of 10, and had to take a form home for my Mum to sign and post back to them!

Puzzler61 Sat 23-Jan-21 12:56:37

I remember horrid gritty toothpaste in a round tin (at least I had toothpaste. Well, I think it was toothpaste 🤔)

Puzzler61 Sat 23-Jan-21 12:58:08

X posts Mollygo . It was toothpaste as you remember it too.

Kim19 Sat 23-Jan-21 12:58:22

Scared stiff. Still am but I go. I was before fillings. First sign of trouble and 'out with it'. Horrible. Advantage was I took great care of my teeeth to avoid visits. Unhappy memories indeed.

silverlining48 Sat 23-Jan-21 12:59:57

I remember our school dentist with fear which has never really left me. She was rough and impatient and had filled all my teeth bar one by the time I was 11.
I still go regularly but always feel nervous whereas my children and grandchildren never had a problem which I am glad about.
I used to think of the school dentist as a witch. Scary!

Chewbacca Sat 23-Jan-21 13:03:53

The trauma of having teeth extracted when I was 8 years old remains with me to this day - as Dave the Dentist will testify. I can remember that big black gas mask being put over my face and waking up to find blood and teeth fragments all over my school jumper. He then pushed cotton wool swabs, wrapped in gauze into my mouth and told me to chew on them to stop the bleeding. I can remember staggering down the corridor, bouncing off the walls, to go straight back into class. M

Kalu Sat 23-Jan-21 13:04:56

We had a lovely old gentleman as our dentist. I remember the gas mask being put over my mouth, for an extraction and dreaming of horses and feeling like a rag doll once the treatment was over. Took the rest of the day for the effects to wear off. 1960, I was ten. As I had a protruding eye tooth, our dentist feared my tripping and the tooth going through my lip so I had a brace made. I felt like a freak as it wasn’t a common sight then.
DH had a very different experience, still wary of dentists due to the ‘butcher’ he had to suffer in childhood.

Maggiemaybe Sat 23-Jan-21 13:26:30

We certainly had toothbrushes, and pink tooth powder in a tin (we used salt when it ran out). I remember one trip to the dentist, when I had a tooth out. It was traumatic. The smell of that awful mask and the gas, and I woke with a mouth full of blood to find I’d been strapped down (I’d fought the anaesthetic, apparently). I felt completely out of it, was crying and sobbing, and they sat me on the wall outside to wait for my mother, who was shopping up the road.

But a much worse experience was in Germany, when DH and I went for a check up with a dentist who “cleaned” our teeth by scraping the surfaces and in between our teeth violently and painfully with a knife. Again, mouths full of blood. That man damaged the surface of my front teeth so badly I’d to have laminates fitted when I got home.

We both had flashbacks a few years later when Marathon Man was released at the cinema!

Urmstongran Sat 23-Jan-21 13:36:19

I went to the dentist (NHS patient) yesterday. £23.80 for a thorough check up and as I’d not been for a year owing to the virus, 2 x-rays taken to check thoroughly for any hidden dental decay. Excellent service.

And this was on their website I noticed:


“Everyone hates a trip to the dentist, generally, it is not enjoyable. The dentist pokes around your mouth with sharp objects, tells you off for smoking, eating sweets and chocolates.

Historically the dentist has caused you some pain. The dentist with the knee on the chest, the painful experiences and the demon school dentist have certainly put a lot of people off the dentist for life! Some of the worst experiences we have as a child are at the dentist.”

Seems the message has gotten through nowadays!

Casdon Sat 23-Jan-21 13:38:02

I hated going to the dentist, it was a bus ride, then a long walk away, and he never used any type of pain relief. Even just a check up was an ordeal because he clamped children’s’ mouths open, and afterwards you felt like the sides of your lips were splitting. We cleaned our teeth twice daily, but still had loads of fillings, so there was definitely some opportunistic money making going on I would say. On the other hand, I’ve still got all my teeth, albeit a couple with root canal fillings - and my dentist now is excellent.