Isolation diary: Going to the dentist

I had a real adventure today – unlikely as it may seem, it was a visit to the dentist.

Back in April a crown dislodged itself, leaving me with a rather poor bite on one side of my mouth. I knew that dental treatment under lockdown was strictly limited to emergencies, so I kept the crown safe and waited. I didn’t attempt a repair myself, as some people have done.

At the time, local dentists were, I think, able to prescribe painkillers and antibiotics remotely but, for understandable reasons, were unable to work on teeth directly. Regional Urgent Dental Care hubs were set up but they could only do extractions. Drilling was considered too dangerous.

My biggest fear over the past few months has been that I would develop the kind of toothache that takes over every thought in my head. The last time it happened was about a year ago when a tooth became infected. I sat up for the whole night, moving from one painful minute to the next, just waiting for the 9am appointment. I had never been so pleased to see my dentist.

I thought it was happening again to me three weeks ago when I developed toothache in a molar on the other side of my mouth. It only hurt after eating, and then only for a few minutes, but it was pretty painful. With both sides of my mouth compromised I found it quite difficult to eat, and the steak I had bought had to be stored in the freezer. Paracetemol before each meal did the trick.

Then we heard – oh joy – that dentists would be re-opening on 8th June. I phoned my dental practice, explaining that it wasn’t an emergency but that I would appreciate an appointment at some point. By this week, somewhat to my embarrassment, the molar had calmed down, but the crown was still, of course, not in place.

Yesterday the dentist phoned in person to ask how I was! That has never happened before. I explained that the molar was OK, but he still offered me an appointment for today to reinsert the crown.

It was a strange experience for someone who hasn’t been out in the Covid-19 world. I had to wear a facemask (luckily the ones I had ordered from Boots arrived earlier in the week), and bring a pen and credit card. 30 minutes before the appointment the receptionist phoned to ask me a long list of questions about my current state of health. I followed their instructions and parked outside where the receptionist phoned me again 5 minutes before my appointment to check I had everything I needed. She then called me in, the dental nurse took my temperature and I was finally taken to meet a charming dentist I hadn’t seen before. It seems the dentist I had been seeing for maybe 30 years had quietly retired during lockdown.

The quite large practice can now have only three staff on the premises at any one time – a dentist, a nurse and a receptionist. The dentist told me that he had spent most of the week replacing crowns. Mine is now back in and maybe I can tackle that steak – but not today.

I didn’t think you would appreciate a photo of my teeth, so instead I give you a picture of the place I go to in my head when I want to blank out unpleasant experiences, such as having teeth filled.





Please note

We have been in full self-isolation since 16th March to protect my husband whose immune system is compromised.

If you are in self-isolation then join the Lib Dems in self-isolation Facebook group.

You can find my previous Isolation diaries here.


* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • At least it wasn’t an abcess… oil of cloves from chemists rubbed on the tooth/gum works remarkably well. I do oil pulling twice a day with different oils, google it for details but basically swishing oil around your mouth for 20 min and then spitting it out, good for gums. If everyone did it religiously it would put dentists out of business!

  • 20 minutes????

  • Why do I keep thinking Sharm El Sheikh?

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