Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Following Michele's stirring post about leaving her daughter in New York with just Moroni for company, and Val's thought-provoking quotes on writing, my post will be completely pointless and frivolous. Sorry about that. My pathetic excuse is that the temperature here just hit 86 degrees, and that's about as hot as I have ever been. I can't switch the fan on because it makes the computer screen flicker, British houses don't have air conditioning. So whilst those of you who live in Arizona, Florida or anywhere else really hot may think I'm a wimp, the truth is that I am too hot to think of anything more inspiring or meaningful than Teeth.

I have finally discovered what the deal is with teeth. Since my last post I have had a visit to both the dentist and the hygenist, and some serious discussion with them has helped me to understand why the Americans (and I'm guessing that most of my readers are from the USA) think we Brits have bad teeth. We don't, by the way.

At the dentist I had a filling and a wisdom tooth extracted. This involved four injections into the gum (ouch) and for an hour afterwards I wasn't able to move my right eyelid. I had to drive home one-handed (not easy in a manual car) with the other hand holding my sore eye closed. The following week I saw the hygenist for a scale and polish and some advice on interdental brushing (apparently floss is now so last year).

The cost of these two visits was £80 ($120) and I was scandalised. Dental treatment has been free here for as long as I can remember but apparently because I am over 16 and under 60, not pregnant and in employment, I have to make a contribution to the cost of my treatment. At least my daughter's braces will be free.

In the last General Conference, Elder Richard G. Scott (I think it was) commented that when a Temple is built in a particular location, Saints living near the Temple actually attend less than they did when they had to travel further. Those living far from the Temple sacrifice and plan and make the effort to go as often as possible; those living nearby seem to hardly bother to go at all.

What does this have to do with teeth? It made me think that if we don't have to sacrifice for something, we subconsciously think it isn't worth much. So when dental treatment is free, we don't bother going to the dentist until the toothache sets in. If we actually have to fork out £20 ($30) to have a tooth filled, we are darn well going to make sure we don't get a cavity! And perhaps that's why Americans all have such perfect, dazzling teeth. They have to pay and sacrifice for them, so they know they are worth having.

Actually, that's not the only reason. I asked the hygenist how much tooth whitening costs. As a cosmetic procedure, it's not available on the National Health Service, and would cost up to £600 ($900). BUT, the hygenist told me, it is better to fly to America to get it done. Not only is it considerably cheaper, but the bleaching agents used there are far stronger than those permitted here. So that explains why British teeth look so much duller than American teeth. I'm flying to Florida in April! Anyone know a good dentist there?


Valerie said...

Anna, I can relate to teeth. I did nothing when I had insurance and then when I was about to lose it, tried to get to see a dentist and he couldn't see me till the day after my insurance ran out. And I could probably tie that into my experience with my temple since moving farther away, but my brain is still a bit foggy (JK Rowling used the word "fuggy" once--is that a commonly used word in England?). Anyway, you deserve much more praise for your blog than me since mine was far less original. And also since you managed to drive home with one hand (and one eye) in a manual transmission car. That's talent!

Michele Ashman Bell said...

Anna, your post wasn't frivolous at all. You always safe something that completely fascinates me, usually because it's profound, but also because I get to learn more about your culture and life. And listen, if you want I can send some Crest white strips. They aren't expensive and work superbly!

Jeri Gilchrist said...

Great post! I'm with Michele, the Crest strips work great! As for the dentist... hate the dentist. Maybe I should reword that since our dentist is in our ward (out of obligation we're in his office regularly.) It's more like I hate the profession. Seems I can never leave the office without him inflicting some sort of pain on me.
Even cleanings are painful. I've never left an office without both eyes working properly though. YIKES!

Gale Sears said...

So fascinating to compare cultures, and to do it via teeth...brilliant! Yikes! $900 for teeth whitening? By all means, come stay with me and get it done in the land of dazzling teeth.

Kelsi Rose said...

Um, I am going to comment on your weather. I think you are a brave soul to live with humidity. I am from Arizona where there is absolutely none (I thought Utah was humid). 81 is pretty warm with no a/c. I feel for you. I lived in Illinois and had the sam problem.

I did like your teeth comments. They were great.