The last bite (August)

04 August 2021
2 min read

Mixed messages

One of the most distressing, emerging effects of the pandemic is the confusion around mixed messages. Masks or no masks, self-isolation or out and about, quarantine or do as you please? But I can’t help feeling that it extends to media reports of dental care too.

On the one hand every day sees stories on lack of NHS access, long wating lists and even longer patient journeys, not to mention practices closing and early retirement. Whilst on the other there has been a stream of articles detailing how dentists have been busily buying up properties including former nightclubs, grade II listed buildings, banks and other intriguing locations to convert into new practices or extend existing ones.

The effects of the pandemic on retail premises are already very noticeable, with sad empty shop windows punctuating the rows of remaining businesses, but will this new wave of dental entrepreneurs help rejuvenate the high street? Perhaps there is room for the ultimate flip – department store franchises inside dental practices?

What’s new

A judge in the 1960s, famously being portrayed as out of touch with the real world, was quoted as saying ‘and who are the Beatles?’ I hope I am not quite as adrift from reality, but I have to confess that I have not used TikTok – although I have seen clips and read copious amounts about the misinformation and bizarre content that users and ‘influencers’ post.

One recent example was the recommendation to help whiten teeth using use magic erasers. Apparently, these are small sponges made from melamine and designed for cleaning home surfaces and stains. Such properties are easily misinterpreted, and it is not a new problem. I remember as a dental student seeing the look of horror and disbelief on a colleague’s face when one of his prosthodontic patients returned a week after having a spanking brand-new set of full acrylic dentures fitted. Scratched and scored by lines, cuts and groves all over the polished surfaces he asked what on earth the patient had been using on them. ‘Ajax’ was the answer. And why pray? Because she had read that the product was ‘good for cleaning enamel’, and after all, that’s what teeth are made from, right?

Carry-On up the dentist

Classic British summer holidays, now dubbed staycations, are rightly connected with saucy seaside postcards, although I suppose saucy seaside texts would now be the norm. Coupled with this traditional inuendo comedy are the Carry On series of films involving all manner of ridiculous situations and double entendres, many of which involved laughing gas, better known to us as nitrous oxide.

Well, it seems that the comedy gas may now have come into its own as a treatment for depression as well as for sedation. A clinical trial has suggested that patients whose depression had not been alleviated by other drugs reported improvements after monthly hour-long sessions spent inhaling nitrous oxide. Oooh matron!