‘I work in a very confined environment,’ I said while explaining my stress to a non-dental friend. ‘Have they given you the smallest room?’ she asked. ‘Well, yes they have, but I was actually referring to the mouth.’

We all know that working in the mouth has its difficulties, but some patients make it unnecessarily so, don’t they? One day a lady came to see me immediately after having her hair ‘done’ by a hairdresser. It was all bouffant and sprayed. ‘I can’t possibly lie back on that,’ she said, pointing at the headrest.

I groaned inwardly, but wasn’t very assertive in those days and, after a few unsuccessful attempts to work while she had no head support, I gave up and had to reappoint her. She was totally baffled, but as she had never been to a dental hygienist before I wondered what she thought I was going to do.

You’ve got to laugh

Then there was the young man with spiky prongs of heavily gelled hair sticking out all over his head. I felt something digging into my ribs after a while and discovered it was his hair! I certainly had to treat him from a distance.

There was also a chap with an unclipped moustache which looked perfectly innocuous when he was standing up, but after lying down and retracting his upper lip you were left with a curtain of facial hair covering his upper teeth. How do you deal with that when you’ve only got two hands? I recall it was that very area which needed attention, so he evidently had trouble with access too.

As I’ve said before, I don’t have all the answers, but a sense of humour does help, doesn’t it?