Yet another problem to get my teeth into - Steve Canavan gets to the root of the problem

Steves teeth are not quite as odd as these
Steves teeth are not quite as odd as these

Apparently I’ve got ‘very odd teeth’ (direct quote from my dentist), though I’ve only just found this out at the age of 42.

It is upsetting, bombshell news which has been hard to cope with and I’ve sought professional help (I visit a counsellor weekly who gives me confidence-boosting exercises which involve me repeating 100 times ‘I have got good teeth, I have got good teeth’).

The reason I’ve only just discovered this is because I have a new dentist.

It is the third dentist I have had during my lifetime.

The first was based yards from our house in Manchester, though I fear my mother - who took me there - didn’t do as much research and due diligence as she might have.

The third time he saw me, he removed seven of my milk teeth and charged a small fortune for it.

Shortly afterwards he was struck off for unnecessarily removing teeth for financial gain.

My mother’s reaction wasn’t one of guilt or concern for me, instead she remarked, ‘I wondered how he could afford to drive a gold Ferrari’ (this is true, he parked it directly outside the surgery; it had the registration plate ‘T33TH’. He was clearly a man of few morals).

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My mum then took me to a new dentist, Mr Wellsby, and he and his wife – who acted as receptionist – treated me wonderfully for the next three decades.

They lived for their patients. If you rang them at 3.30am complaining of slight toothache, for example, they’d drive 45 miles to see you, refuse payment, and bring a small cake with them to boot as a gift.

They ran the practice from their house. The dentist chair was set up in the lounge and Mr Wellsby often watched Antiques Roadshow as he worked on your teeth, breaking off regularly to shake his head, sigh wistfully, and say ‘who’d have thought a vase would be worth that much?’

They had a pet dog, which ran around the room at breakneck speed and jumped on your lap as you lay on the chair.

It was terrific, though I don’t recall them winning any awards for hygiene.

Such was his love of dentistry that Mr Wellsby declined to retire at the age of 65 and was still working until last year when he finally called it a day at the age of 83.

It was probably the right time; a couple of years earlier as he was giving me a filling, inches from my mouth he suddenly stopped and stared in quizzical fashion for a long while at his drill before exclaiming, ‘oops, wrong way round’.

His retirement meant I needed a new dentist, so I sought one out locally and had my first appointment earlier this year.

When I arrived I could barely believe my eyes. For 30-odd years I had been having my teeth treated in someone’s living room while watching tele and chucking a ball for a dog.

This new place was all white walls and slick polished surfaces, like the set of Star Trek. It was clinical and professional and clean. There wasn’t even any dog hair.

When I saw the dentist – and after getting over the shock that not only was he not an octogenarian but actually younger than me – he asked me to open my mouth and stuck his instrument in.

A moment or two after doing this, he recoiled in horror. “Those teeth - I’ve never seen anything like that in my life!” he exclaimed, pale and breathing heavily, as though he’d just woken from a deep sleep to find an intruder lurking in his bedroom.

He explained the teeth in the bottom left corner of my mouth were, to paraphrase, a bit weird and expressed surprise that I had managed to clean them as well as I had all these years because of the angle they were at.

This was all news to me and later that night, in a paranoid state of mind, I spent a full 45 minutes standing in front of the mirror with my jaw open wide trying to gauge just how much of a freak I really was.

I’d forgotten about all this until Tuesday when I had my second appointment with my new dentist.

On sitting in his chair and opening my mouth, he immediately went ashen and said, ‘ah, I’d recognise those teeth anywhere’, in the manner of someone who has just spotted someone they know on a Crimewatch reconstruction.

I’ve looked on Amazon to see if I can buy new teeth but to no avail. Looks like I’m stuck with them, as my dentist seems to takes great pleasure in reminding me.

Giving birth to a right barny

I have to take my hat off to the woman who gave birth in a helicopter this week 1,400 feet above Penzance.

As you may have read, emergency crews received a call on Saturday night to urgently assist a lady who had gone into labour while visiting the Isles of Scilly.

As she was being transported back to the mainland, her waters broke and the baby (named Torran; shame they didn’t go for Chopper) was delivered on board.

I casually mentioned this to Mrs Canavan and told her that it put into perspective all her moaning and groaning when she gave birth to our Mary 18 months ago – and that was while lay in a nice comfortable hospital bed with all the latest hi-tec medical equipment and pain relief products directly to hand.

I thought this comment Ok but there was a long, icy silence during which Mrs Canavan appeared to be weighing up whether to stab me in the arm or the leg before she quietly got up and left the room.

I’ve not seen her since – it’s been four days now - but am hoping she returns soon for there’s nothing in the fridge and the kitchen floor really needs mopping.