When I had my teeth whitened in New York, I was given the option of watching an overhead television, or wearing a headset which piped music of my choice.
I lie on a comfortable padded chair – which reclined – and I was covered with a floral cotton comforter.
Amiable staff appeared at regular intervals to nod agreeably at me and see that I was tolerating the intrusive whitening paraphernalia in my mouth.
So, I wonder why we, in this country, so sadly lack imagination and as I lie back in my NHS dentist’s chair, the only thing I get to focus on is the 1970s Artex ceiling and a few cobwebs?
You may say, how trivial, and that the purpose of the visit is to benefit from the skill of the dentist and not to be entertained.
I say that going to the dentist is, for a lot of people, a stressful event and, if anything can be done to alleviate the tensions that go with the treatment, why not?
I admit I don’t need to be blanketed for a quick check up – although I guess that here in the UK I would be offered one of the itchy wool variety – but I would appreciate something distracting to look at as sharp objects poke and prod in my mouth.
I want to see something that will take my mind off having to keep my mouth open at an over wide angle that makes my jaw ache, that will perhaps drown out the horrible sound of oral power tools.
I would like to see, at the very least, a mural of sea creatures or fluffy zoo animals, chubby babies or a garden full of flowers. Something interactive would be innovative – maybe a thought-operated overhead crossword or virtual Scrabble?
But for now, in my ideal world, there would be a large ceiling mounted television and I would choose some suitably distracting movie – Jaws, perhaps?
Merry Christmas to dentists everywhere… and here’s to a 2010 full of innovative patient care, fluffy animals and chubby babies!