Getting to the root of it

To say that I’m annoyed, would be putting it mildly. To say that I’m furious would be a tad too strong. But somewhere between annoyed and furious you’ll find me as I vent my frustration at the pace of modern society and the ensuing damage this does to our health.

For the best part of two years, I’ve been attracting every bug known to man and a few that have not yet been catalogued. I’ve had MRIs, injections, antibiotics, steroids, tablets, and tonics. I’ve seen doctors, neurologists, nutritionists, psychotherapists, ophthalmologists and all sorts of alternative practitioners. And not one of them could explain what was going on with me.

Last month, I changed dentist. Since I’ve been to Budapest, I’ve had three. This is my fourth. My first was clearly in it for the money. Never trust a dentist whose greeting is: ‘do you have insurance’? I got fillings I didn’t need and a bill that left me reeling. Obviously my nem was lost in translation somewhere as dental insurance is something I’m singularly lacking.

The second came highly recommended. Clean surgery, pristine reputation, reasonably priced. I went twice a year – two cleanings and an annual check-up. But the waiting drove me mad. I was never seen on time and never, ever had his undivided attention. The third was by far the most personable but I lost faith when he tried to convince me to invest in my mouth by replacing my porcelain fillings with gold.

Tomorrow will do

Before Budapest, in the UK, I made my bi-annual visits. I’m quite religious when comes to my teeth. Back in the early 1990s, I’d had all my amalgam fillings replaced with porcelain and was told I’d need them redone in about ten years. Every dentist I’ve been to since has commented that I’d need them done ‘at some stage’. Yet not one of them ever took the time to make that ‘some stage’ a reality.

Yes, they took x-rays. Yes, they took photographs. Yes, they poked and prodded before pronouncing me fit to munch again. And idiot that I am, not having spent seven years in dental college, I took them at their word. All was well and would be well as long as I flossed some more.

Calling time

So, this fourth guy, checked me out, took some photos, and called time. I had to have those fillings replaced. Now. And, I needed my crown replaced as well. The figures totted up to quite a healthy sum but I knew I couldn’t escape forever. All went well until he removed my crown. When I saw the state of it, I nearly threw up. As for my tooth – it looked as if it would have been more at home in the mouth of one of Macbeth’s witches.

Not satisfied, he insisted on x-raying the root. And lo and behold, the root canal filling stopped 3mm short of the root itself. And in this 3-mm gap festered a pool of bacteria that had been seeping into my blood for God only knows how long. A little reading about the theories of one Dr Weston Price, a dentist from the 1900s, and his thoughts on root canal treatment, and hey presto, all the pieces suddenly fell into place.

Every last symptom I had presented with in the last two years could have been a result of this infection. Every last one. Without exception.

Making money

My gripe? Until now, not one dentist has had time for me. Like so many others, I’ve been slotted into place between patients and as I waited for my injection to take effect, they’d be off working on someone else’s mouth. As for the doctors:  Try this. Try that. We don’t know. We have no clue. It could be this, it might be that. Let’s see. Let’s wait and see some more. And in the meantime, I’m having trouble keeping my life on track and am beginning to doubt my sanity.

I’m not naïve enough to think that efficiencies and economies of scale are unimportant. I know that people have to make a living and the more patients in the chair, the more hours that can be billed. I know that Dr House is just a TV character and doesn’t exist in real life. I know that doctors are underpaid and overworked and like dentists are often harried and hassled. I know all this. I do.

But when did quantity win its fight with quality? When did more become less? When did the treatment become more important than the cure? When did we lose sight of the basics? Did you know that football coaches won’t take on a player without a full dental check-up? I didn’t. But now, I’m left wondering why no doctor or dentist thought to check my teeth.

Do yourself a favour. If you’re not feeling well, and despite their best efforts, if no one can give you answers, have your teeth x-rayed. I know just the chap who can do it for you, too. You’ll have his undivided attention as he sees only one patient at a time. Dr Imre Mohos

First publishing in the Budapest Times 8 March 2013