I was a teenage dental tragic …
Suddenly, the noisy vibrations echoing through my skull stopped. Flat on my back, I opened my eyes. Two masked faces loomed above me.
‘Bite down on this please,’ a male voice asked. I closed my aching jaw over something soft. ‘We’re just taking a break until the bleeding stops,’ he continued.
No, I hadn’t been hit by a bus, in a car crash, or even lying on a gurney in the ER!
None of these. Sadly, I was just at the dentist. Again. Of course this is no reflection on my current dentist Michael – it would be difficult to find a nicer person to inflict so much pain (Torquemada eat your heart out!). His staff went the extra kilometre recently – as a frequent ‘plier’ customer, I got to christen the massage chair while having my dental ‘treatment’ (a euphemism for undignified torture). Scarily, this was almost fun!
I can’t tell you from which parent I inherited my appallingly bad teeth as they both have dentures. But between my virgin experience at the Fijian Indian dentist training school (it was worse than what you’re imagining) and now, I’ve experienced almost the full dental monty. ‘Procedures’ (yes, another euphemism) include fillings (aka excavations), scalings, adhesive restorations, root canals (yes, multiple), extraction, crowns, bridges, repairs, X-rays, photos (ugly!), injections, anaesthesia, experimental procedures etc etc etc. Yeah, I SO deserve that massage chair!!
Countless thousands of dollars (possibly converted into private school education – for an extended family or a luxury beach house – in the south of France) have gone in funding my dental treatment habit. And weirdly, my annual private health fund contributions exceed my annual dental work rebate limit (even with a ‘loyalty bonus’), with returns only a small percentage of the actual item cost. And unless I’ve been sadly misinformed, there is no medicare rebate on dental work. Now the Rudd/Swan ‘can we buy you a plasma TV’ juggernaut has upped the out of pocket medical expenses limit over which a tax offset can be claimed from $1500 to $2000.
Not that I have any worries about exceeding either limit in any given financial year, but as this is the only way to recoup post-health fund dental costs, I can only assume that ‘dental’ pain and suffering is somehow less valid than ‘medical’ pain and suffering! Why? As a lifelong dental tragic, I don’t get why I do get a medicare rebate for visiting a GP, gynaecologist or ophthalmologist but not for the dentist. I also don’t get why other non-life threatening but equally debilitating conditions (such as fibroids or glaucoma) have less out of pocket costs than my dental work.
Maybe if I travel back to 1950, rip out all my teeth and get dentures, I could get ‘BER’ scheme funding for a ‘nation building’ time machine. After all, that would be FAR more sexy (AND historic!) than actually solving a national bad teeth dilemma! BUT … I’ll bet there are thousands of dental tragics out there – if you are one, what would you vote for?
Clack clack! See you next time!!